A Balancing Act
When most non-farm folks think about life on the farm, they think about a laid back lifestyle. Very little hustle and bustle, a day spent tending chores, and settling in when the sun goes down. Nothing is further from the truth for Dana Martin Stewart of the Steprock Community in northern White County, Ark.
Stewart’s busy lifestyle requires her to implement a balancing act between family, farm and community activities. Even as a child, Stewart has been a busy person, never being satisfied with being still for too long. Growing up in a close-knit farm family in rural White County instilled in Dana the core values of the importance of family, being a good neighbor, and giving back to the community. “It has always been about family and community for me,” Dana said. “That’s one of the neat things about growing up on a farm in a rural community. It’s neighbor helping neighbor, being close, and being involved. I wouldn’t take anything for growing up right here.”
Dana and her husband Jason have two children, Jewel, 6, and Henry, 4. Dana was a stay-at-home mom for a while when the children were smaller. Then, three years ago, she found out the White County Community Foundation was looking for an executive director, so she thought that would be a perfect fit for her to give back to the community.
“I have really enjoyed working with the Foundation,” she said.” It gives me the flexibility of schedule to stay focused on my family, and help other organizations with the tools and dollars to implement community based projects. Not only does the White County Community Foundation provide grants, it also provides tools for direction of those grant dollars. “
The Arkansas Community Foundation not only makes grants, but it shares knowledge.
“Arkansas Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow, and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs.”
As if all this wasn’t enough, Dana recently became Chair of the White County Women’s Committee, another one of those good fits for Stewart. With her life-long involvement in 4-H, working with county 4-H clubs, schools and civic organizations is a natural for Dana. However, it is not just about local community activities for the chairperson.
“With this year’s legislative session for Arkansas, we had some important legislative issues before us,” Dana explained. “As in years past, we had property owner’s rights such as privacy and trespassing, as well as a host of other issues including health care. Farm Bureau is also active in consumer education. We want people to know where their food comes from.”
Stewart’s community involvement doesn’t stop there. She is an active member of the Park Avenue Baptist Church, a 4-H volunteer, assistant supervisor of the White County Fair, and has participated in the Searcy Leadership Council.
As busy as Dana’s life is, she never forgets her roots.
This fifth-generation farm girl has not strayed far from home. She lives on the farm next to her parents and is still involved in the family’s beef cattle business.
The farm operates about 100 momma cows and 30 herd bulls. Dana still lives in the same school district she grew up in. Except for eight years in Colorado, where she worked with the American Gelbvieth Association, Dana has called White County home.
Dana has certainly maximized her bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications in every aspect of her life. But it is not just about communicating. It’s about doing, staying involved in the community to make White County a better place not only for her family, but every family in the county.
Dana Martin Stewart has accomplished a lot in her young life time, but given her dedication and drive, more is yet to come.