By Chloe Campbell
High Point Elementary School 5th Grader and 4th Generation Egg Farmer
Dutt & Wagner Family Farm, Abingdon, VA
My name is Chloe Campbell and I’m a fourth-generation egg farmer. I’m 11 years-old and live in Abingdon, Virginia with my stepmom, dad, and my pet bunny, Trickle. I come from a long line of farmers. My cousin, Lake Wagner, is also a fourth-generation farmer at our family farm, Dutt & Wagner.
When I think of Easter, I think of eggs. Hunting for them. Eating lots of them. And of course, decorating them. It’s one of my favorite things to do leading up to the holiday. That’s why I got SO excited this year when I heard I had the opportunity to share my own design for a super special Easter egg…the Commemorative Egg for the First Lady!
You might be surprised to know that every year a beautifully designed Commemorative Egg is presented to the First Lady of the United States. It’s an annual tradition by America’s egg farmers that goes as far back as the Carter Administration.
But, this year’s 42nd Commemorative Egg presented to First Lady Melania Trump will be particularly special because the design was inspired by egg farmers’ children, like me. Children across the country submitted suggestions and designs to the artist.
I’m sure lots of other farmer’s kids had fun creating cool design ideas in their submissions too. My design was inspired by Trickle, my pet bunny, and used a quilling design technique. Don’t know what quilling is? You can see my full submission letter explaining it below. When I heard my design was among those that inspired the final 2019 First Lady’s Commemorative Egg, I was thrilled! I can’t wait for Easter and to see Mrs. Trump holding the egg. It’s very special and something I’ll always remember.
By Trey Braswell
4th Generation Egg Farmer
Braswell Family Farms, Nashville, N.C.
One of my vivid childhood memories is on the South Lawn of the White House. It was a surprisingly warm spring day and I was pushing a brightly colored egg with a wooden spoon through meticulously manicured green grass.
It was exciting for our family and hundreds of others to participate in an American Easter tradition dating back to 1878 — the White House Easter Egg Roll! There was certainly a sense of connection and comradery. I remember also feeling proud; my father told me that all the eggs for the event had been donated by egg farmers. The eggs came from farms like ours in Nashville, N.C.
That was years ago, but I often find myself recalling that day on the White House lawn. And I still do so with pride, as I’m now the fourth generation on Braswell Family Farms, continuing our tradition of honoring relationships as we feed Americans across the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic.
The importance of relationships is close to my heart. Growing up, there really was no separation of “family” and “farm.” We considered employees as family (and still do). Some actually were family, of course, but everyone, related or not, was “Aunt” or “Uncle” to me. I suspect this was always the case, when my great-great-uncle J.M. and great-grandad E.G. purchased the water-powered grist mill that started our business. I believe a family atmosphere transcends job titles and responsibilities. And I believe the relationships we’ve forged over the years are what will keep our farm going for future generations. Ours is a people business. Our goal is to continue to provide the highest quality eggs every day and to make a positive impact on lives.
Someday when our young daughters are a bit older, my wife and I hope to take them to a White House Easter Egg Roll. For now, however, we are more than content to enjoy Easter in our North Carolina backyard at Braswell Family Farms. After all, the joy that comes from decorating or hunting for eggs further connects us as Americans, no matter if these take place on the White House lawn or lawns across the country.
By Vanessa Brey
4th Generation Egg Farmer
Brey’s Egg Farm, Jeffersonville, NY
I’m a fourth-generation farmer, working with my dad, Daniel and my mom, Nancy, on the upstate New York farm my great-grandfather, Harold, founded in 1932. I think he would be proud to see how we have grown and evolved over the years from the 10 cows and 200 chickens they started with. We’re the last egg farm left in Sullivan County, in fact.
We provide for the hens in our care who, in turn, provide fresh and nutritious eggs that Americans love. We raise cattle, too.
One of my earliest memories as a little girl is standing on a milk crate in our egg room. I did this a lot, helping package eggs for shipment to stores and homes here in Sullivan County, as well as New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. It’s hard work, but more than that, it’s satisfying and rewarding, because we know we are doing our part to feed people!
One of the great things about my job is that I’m getting paid to do something I love. I don’t mind the manual labor; it’s like I’m getting paid to work out and it’s better than sitting behind a desk all day (although I do have to do my share of paperwork). This is an around-the-clock, 365-days-per-year job because our hens depend on us, just like we depend on them.
We blend their feed mixture right here on the farm, and we use grains and minerals to ensure they get the freshest and healthiest ingredients during each stage of their development. We do this not only because it’s the responsible and right thing to do, but also because the result will be enjoyed by someone like you and me.
My job is one that many people aren’t that familiar with. Many haven’t had the opportunity to get to know a farmer. That’s one of the reasons it is important to share my story. I want people to know that I work hard not just during this busy Easter season, but every day to provide eggs. And, I’m not alone. I’m one of countless farmers across the country who do their best every day.
By Jason and Tracy Ramsdell
2nd Generation Egg Farmer
Dakota Layers Family Farm, Flandreau, SD
We are a pretty tough breed here in eastern South Dakota. With record heat in the summer and blizzards in the winter, we have to be. Life doesn’t stop during harsh weather. Particularly when you are part of the agriculture community like we are.
But, as general manager of Dakota Layers, a family-owned egg farm in Flandreau, I couldn’t be more “prairie proud” to be a member of this community! Even during our frigid winters and blistering-hot summers, we check each of the hens in our care daily, making sure the water lines are delivering the right amount of water and the feed troughs are filled. I love this work and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I’m a second-generation egg farmer, and sixth-generation farmer. But this way of life was new to my wife Tracy when I joined Dakota Layers full-time in 2012. Tracy, a journalist by training (and a foodie by birth), is our marketing director and learned this business from the ground up. To say she’s passionate about this work would be putting it lightly. I’m also starting to see the agriculture spark in the eyes of my children, too. Jett and Nora love being around the birds. The fact that Tracy and I can involve our children in our work makes us feel blessed beyond belief.
As egg farmers, Easter means a lot to us. It’s not only because, for so many families, Easter equals eggs, but it’s also due to the sense of community during the Easter season. We love the idea of Americans coming together to celebrate family, a new season, and the new life that comes with spring.
Knowing families are enjoying our eggs means so much to us. It makes us “prairie proud” not only at Easter but every day to be South Dakotans, members of the agriculture community, and Americans.
By Mindy Truex
3rd Generation Egg Farmer
Creighton Brothers Family Farm, Warsaw, IN
Four feet, 10 inches. I remember when I couldn’t wait to be four feet, 10 inches.
That’s how tall you needed to be to stand over a table in order to count chicks in our hatchery. Or at least that’s what my dad told me. It’s one of my earliest memories, as I imagine I was too young to help around our farm.
My name is Mindy Creighton Truex and I’m a third-generation egg farmer in Warsaw, Indiana. I’m a little older (and a little taller) now. My grandfather, Hobart, and his brother, Russell, transformed 38 acres on the old Creighton homestead into what is now our family farm, Creighton Brothers, LLC. Staking their future on 1,200 young hens, they established themselves as a major part of the “Egg Basket of the Midwest.”
Growing up, I always knew that this farm would be my life. My dad believed strongly in education — both hands-on experience and the academic variety — so I went to Purdue to study agribusiness management and I’ve also done just about every job around the farm. A lot of what I do here now is in the office, but being out in the fields or in the henhouse are still my favorite things. I love being out there getting my hands dirty when I can, and I love this way of life.
It is so rewarding to share our farm’s eggs with families who will enjoy them. That’s one of the reasons I love Easter. I think of Easter and I think of community and of sharing what you have with others. In a way, it is Easter every day at Creighton Brothers. Years ago, we began organizing farm tours for local schools and community organizations. We had so many great conversations during these tours, often talking for hours, that I realized we needed to add a lunch to the tour agenda. That omelet lunch evolved into the idea for a café. Today, we still love to engage in tableside talks with guests to educate people about our farm and also provide a farm-to-table experience — at our Crazy Egg Café.
At the Crazy Egg Café, visitors enjoy the freshest eggs (because they’ve never left our farm) and other ingredients from local farms across the Midwest. And, we have fun with our menu! For example, our Crazy Egg Waffich features our farm fresh eggs sandwiched between delicious Belgian waffles.
Whether farmers are talking to people over a Waffich at the Crazy Egg Café or sharing the story of how eggs go from hen to home at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, our goal is the same. We want you to know we work hard to provide the very best eggs every day.
By Jordan Hertzfeld
4th Generation Egg Farmer
Hertzfeld Poultry Farm, Grand Rapids, OH
Like most kids, I loved rides.
Only my favorites weren’t at any of Ohio’s amusement parks or carnivals. I preferred hopping on one of the tractors right here at Hertzfeld Poultry Farm, in my hometown of Grand Rapids.
I still do. Only now, I’m the operations manager for our fourth-generation family farm, which provides high-quality eggs to the Toledo area and surrounding communities, as well as to markets in the eastern United States and Canada.
To be honest, I wasn’t always sure I would join the family business. The farm had been a central part of my life since birth, so when I went off to Bowling Green University I had time to experience life beyond the farm. And I missed it. Farming is hard work, but it’s fun, too. I like being on my feet when I work and experiencing something different every day.
Every day on the farm is special, and I know how fortunate we are to be able to provide nutritious and delicious eggs that feed so many Americans. But Easter is a particularly special time for our family — and most other egg farmers.
A highlight is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, an American tradition dating back to 1878. Each year, egg farmers across the country donate thousands of eggs for the event. Those eggs – which are rolled, decorated or eaten on the South Lawn of the White House by thousands of children and families — are just a small part of the nearly 3 billion eggs eaten during the Easter season each year!
One of the reasons I’m so fond of the White House Easter Egg Roll is that I’m a traditionalist at heart (that may explain why my favorite way to eat eggs is sunny side up, with toast). Our family — those who work on the farm, and those who don’t — always returns home to celebrate Easter together. And we all run around the lawn searching for colorfully decorated eggs. It doesn’t matter your age.
I feel that sense of family and pride every day on the farm, too. We are fortunate our business has grown over the years. We can keep doing what we love to do, and I treasure every part of the job. Each day is different, but each day I work together with family and friends. Some days we have to overcome challenges, some days are easier than others, but every day we leave proud knowing we’re providing something wholesome that nourishes people.
By Ben Thompson
2nd Generation Egg Farmer
Pearl Valley Farms, Pearl City, IL
My name is Ben Thompson and I’m a second-generation farmer at Pearl Valley Farms of Pearl City, Illinois. I live the American Dream every day on our farm; it gives me a strong work ethic and a life purpose. With my parents, my wife, Tammy, and my children at my side, we have built and grown our business by staying true to our roots and maintaining an unwavering commitment to doing what’s right. I’m so excited about what the future holds, but it also makes me pause and appreciate the years of hard work to get to where we are today.
In the 1970s, my father, Dave Thompson was an elementary school teacher who wanted to teach his students about agriculture, particularly hatching chicks first-hand. Year after year, the flock continued to grow, and in 1987, my father began to turn that flock into Pearl Valley Farms. We ensure our hens receive the highest level of care and the most nutritious diet. This diet not only results in delicious and nutritious eggs, but also calcium-rich manure that we compost to create high-quality fertilizers. Our fertilizer has been so popular that we were able to expand and, in 2015, introduced our organic fertilizer line.
Our commitment to doing what is right for families across the country and for the environment helps us build on our American Dream and continue to grow our farm. We are excited to join other egg farmers who are fulfilling their dreams, as we represent Illinois at the next White House Easter Egg Roll. This annual beloved Easter celebration continues to delight thousands of children and families, creating lifelong memories on the White House South Lawn.
My family and I love what we do, and it’s why we can’t wait to share our passion — and our incredible eggs — with families from across the country. And in turn, we hope as you plan to gather around your table and outside for egg hunts that you know America’s egg farmers send you their very best every day.
By Lake Wagner
4th Generation Egg Farmer
Dutt & Wagner Family Farm, Abingdon, VA
I am a fourth-generation farmer of Dutt & Wagner. I began working on our family farm at the age of 14, and after gaining a Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the University of Richmond, I returned to Dutt & Wagner in 2015 to carry on our family tradition. Americans love eggs, and we work hard every day to provide the best possible food for people!
Farming was seeded in my blood when my great-grandfather, Frank Wagner, and his brother-in-law, Paul Dutt, started a successful business in the mid-1920s with a $500 loan. Since then, Dutt & Wagner has seen four generations of farmers and continues to grow.
As a child growing up in Virginia, I had the opportunity to participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll and have fond memories of this event, which has become a staple in my life. In my earlier years, the White House Easter Egg Roll was an opportunity to meet Presidents who served as role models and to fulfill dreams of playing on the South Lawn. Today, the White House Easter Egg Roll is an opportunity for our Dutt & Wagner family to reflect on our heritage as egg farmers doing our best to provide for American families.
The White House Easter Egg Roll dates back to 1878. Today it is one of the largest annual gatherings hosted by the White House. Since 1977, America’s egg farmers have provided the eggs used for egg rolling and other traditions on the lawn. That same year, America’s egg farmers also presented the First Lady and First Daughter with the first-ever Commemorative Egg, a tradition that continues today, with a focus on the next generation.
We love what we do. We love the tradition we are continuing each day. And we are proud of our farming heritage and excited about what the future will bring.
By Chris Pierce
2nd Generation Egg Farmer
Heritage Poultry Management Services, Annville, PA
I can remember my two kids hunting for colorful Easter eggs, carefully picking them up and putting them into baskets. Being an egg farmer has a lot of perks. I mean, how many other fathers can say they spend each day creating something that kids chase after with such excitement?
I hold Easter memories near and dear to my heart. Even though my kids are now in college, Easter hasn’t stopped being a tradition in my family and in our rural Pennsylvania community. In fact, it’s our busiest time of year. You see, being an egg farmer isn’t a weekday job. It’s not nine-to-five. It’s seven days a week. The concept of “working hours” doesn’t apply. Even days off can be few and far between, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Feeding people and nourishing families is incredibly gratifying. And that’s exactly why we work so hard.
As the president of Heritage Poultry Management Services in Annville, Pennsylvania, not only do I have hens in my personal care, but I also continue our family business, which my father-in-law started in 1980, into the next generation to provide support to egg farmers across our state. Our goal is to ensure the Pennsylvania egg community continues to provide the highest-quality eggs to Americans. We do that through a daily commitment to animal care, which guides every decision we make. For example, we have a full-time nutritionist on staff to ensure all hens receive the right nutrients in their diet. This is crucial because every flock is different — even the weather can impact their needs. This is one way we deliver the best product possible for people.
We hope that as you enjoy your Easter traditions — from dying eggs, watching children run across backyards hunting for eggs, or coming together over a Sunday brunch — you’ll know that America’s egg farmers work hard to send you their very best every day.
By Brent Nelson
4th Generation Egg Farmer
Nelson Poultry Farms, Manhattan, KS
As a parent, an American and a fourth-generation egg farmer, there’s nothing quite like the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Last April, my wife and I were delighted to take our three children from the Little Apple (Manhattan, Kansas) to the annual event on the South Lawn of the White House. While this marked the first time we were honored to attend this monumental experience, our family ties to the egg industry run deep.
Nearly a century ago, my great grandmother began selling and trading eggs to help put food on the table for her family. It was a humble beginning with chicks hatched in the garage behind the family home in Morganville, Kansas. What started as a personal passion has evolved into both a professional passion as well. Today our family keeps this spirit alive running Nelson Poultry Farms.
It’s a non-stop, challenging and rewarding job. There were times when, like at age 8, helping my dad around the farm, I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be an egg farmer. But coming back to the farm after exploring other unfulfilling industries post-college is a decision I’ve never regretted. And the thought that, one day, my kids could choose to be the fifth generation and continue our family heritage makes me even more excited for the future of agriculture.
We are thrilled to return to the White House Easter Egg Roll, which is a fun, exciting event, especially for my children. But it’s more than that; it’s a celebration of our way of life as egg farmers. And it gives me an immense amount of pride to be included in this beloved annual gathering on the most famous lawn in the country.
We can’t wait to go back, and bring the best of Kansas to Washington, D.C., Just as we do, on Easter and every other day of the year, as dedicated American egg farmers!