Meet Iowa’s TikTok farmer
Carolyn Hetzel, a Mills County farmer and agronomist, started posting videos to her account about a year ago.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to reach other people in agriculture that I don’t interact with on a daily basis,” she says. “There’s a lot of people in the world who are looking to learn more about ag, and there’s a lot of bad information out there. I want to try and provide accurate info.”
While she does goof around in some of the videos, Hetzel especially enjoys making videos that share knowledge about crop protection products used in fields to control weeds, keep crops healthy and support on-farm conservation efforts.
Hetzel says she feels the world is confused about crop protection in general and that fear settles in the unknown. Hetzel says if she can help break down products and talk about them in an easy-to-digest, scientific way, then maybe more people will gain an understanding of how they work and the impact they have.
“I do think it’s really easy to educate both on the positive and on how to protect yourself from potential negatives of those products,” she says.
In Hetzel’s opinion, the average American farmer and those who apply crop protection products in their fields work their best to ensure safety, and she hopes others will come to know and appreciate that as well.
Overall, Hetzel has garnered mostly positive feedback on her TikTok videos, although negative comments are sometimes posted from people, as is unfortunately all-too-common in social media. But it’s always important to ask why, she says, so she’s had a lot of great interactions on the platform, too.
Hetzel’s knowledge of agriculture comes in part from a childhood spent on her family farm in northwest Iowa, where her father was a farmer. Her mother also worked in the agronomy business, so she learned a lot from her.
“I've seen both sides of the industry, both from a farmer’s perspective and also from the commercial side,” Hetzel says. “I think that was really beneficial to be raised in a house with both of those dynamics coinciding.”
After high school, Hetzel attended Iowa State University for nutritional science and biology. She initially thought she would go the medical route, but after taking some agriculture courses, she decided the ag industry might be a better fit for her. As a student, Hetzel worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a biological science aide doing research.
Once she received her bachelor’s degree, Hetzel worked as a Pioneer seed sales representative before becoming a regional seed adviser for a co-op covering western Iowa. This role led her to a job as a district sales manager with Wyffels Hybrids and, more recently, as a seed and soil health strategic account manager for UPL, a company that provides sustainable agricultural solutions.
“In one way or another, I’ve always been involved in seed,” Hetzel says.
In addition to her and her husband’s jobs, the couple farms corn and beans.
Last year, the Hetzels welcomed their infant son, Fenwick, to the family.
They don’t have many acres, and they’ve gradually had to buy equipment, but the title of “farmer” is one both Hetzels love.
“Our lives have really been built around the farm,” Hetzel says. “It’s humbled us a lot.”
Being directly on the farm also helps Hetzel come up with content for her TikTok page (@carhartth), and she looks forward to continuing to share her extensive knowledge in a fun, lighthearted way.
Giardino is a freelance writer from Polk City.