Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – People growing up in urban centers often have little exposure to rural living. Just ask Ashley Perepelkin.

You wouldn’t know that the co-owner of Perepelkin Farms grew up a city girl with little familiarity with farm life outside of learning to ride horses when she was younger.

“I started riding when I was about 12 years old. That was about as country as I got.”

A blind date in 2010 changed all that when she met the man who would become her husband. At that time, he was seeding a couple of hundred acres, giving Perepelkin her first glimpse into the farming lifestyle. As the two grew together, fell in love, and started a family, she sold her horses and replaced them with cows, fulfilling a desire to get into the cattle industry. 

“That was a huge, huge learning curve. But it was exciting!”

READ MORE:AWC West 2024: Leadership, Conflict, and Better Mental Health in Agriculture

Perepelkin Farms has become a successful operation under the steady hand of Perepelkin and her husband. But her journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Having grown up in the city, her fast track into the farming life made her doubt if she could call herself a farmer or rancher. Imposter syndrome hit hard. 

“I still struggle with the self-recognition that I am a farmer or a rancher and identifying as that. For a long time, I didn’t believe I was those things. I was married to a farmer, and I did cows, but I wasn’t that myself.”

Courtesy: Advancing Women Conference

The doubt lingered until her husband played her a snippet of a radio interview where the person was speaking about someone who inspired them. It took a few moments, but she realized they were talking about her. That moment helped her understand her true identity and the extent of her accomplishments.

It also got her thinking: how many more people believe they are not achieving the level that everybody else is seeing them achieve? 

At the upcoming AWC West 2024 conference, Perepelkin will be a featured speaker reflecting on her journey and emphasizing the importance of working to overcome imposter syndrome. For her, she says her dedication to the farm and a desire to learn as much as possible about the industry helped erase her fears and doubts. 

“A lot of how I needed to be comfortable doing what I was doing was through continuing education and learning by the book,” says Perepelkin. “And because I did it that way and did the research and read the papers and I did the continuing education, it allowed me to take multiple different options, analyze which was the best on paper, and put it into motion.” 

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It also helped that she was forging her own path, one that no one in her family had ever tread before. That knowledge and understanding made her more open to change, which served her well as a herdsman. 

“It wasn’t like, oh, we do this because this is how we’ve always done it. I’m open to the idea of change. I’m constantly making modifications to the operation, and I’m curating it so it fits best for me.”

For Perepelkin, the conference represents an opportunity to further her own education while inspiring others to embrace their achievement and pursue their goals in agriculture. 

Learn more about her presentation by visiting the AWC West 2024 website.

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