When Julie Kenney and Pam Johnson left their farms after high school, they set out to do something different. Something other than agriculture.

"I left and told my parents I was going to do something more sophisticated," Johnson said.

After college, Johnson moved to Minneapolis and became a nurse. She eventually found her way back to the Floyd County farm, married and raised children. Later, she became the president of the National Corn Growers Association.

After graduating from college, Kenney worked for Pioneer. She married, had children, and made...