Real Work, Real Life

Spanish and ESL Agriculture Educator

April 17, 2024 Emily Sampson Episode 52
Spanish and ESL Agriculture Educator
Real Work, Real Life
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Real Work, Real Life
Spanish and ESL Agriculture Educator
Apr 17, 2024 Episode 52
Emily Sampson

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On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I’m talking with Katie Dotterer, founder of Agvokate Agriculture Education, teaching Spanish and English as a second language, primarily to people working in agriculture. I learned so much in this episode. We get into a lot of the challenges and joys of entrepreneurship, using language to improve life for everyone working in agriculture, and that A.I. means something completely different in the dairy industry. You’ll have to listen to the end for that one. 

If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like my interview with Caite Palmer, cohost of the Barnyard Language podcast:

You can find out more about Katie here: 


Instagram: @the_agvokate

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at



Transcripts are now available here:

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I’m talking with Katie Dotterer, founder of Agvokate Agriculture Education, teaching Spanish and English as a second language, primarily to people working in agriculture. I learned so much in this episode. We get into a lot of the challenges and joys of entrepreneurship, using language to improve life for everyone working in agriculture, and that A.I. means something completely different in the dairy industry. You’ll have to listen to the end for that one. 

If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like my interview with Caite Palmer, cohost of the Barnyard Language podcast:

You can find out more about Katie here: 


Instagram: @the_agvokate

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at



Transcripts are now available here:


[00:00:00] Welcome to real work real life, where I talked to real people about what they do for work and what that means for their lives. Today, I'm talking with Katie Dotterer, sounder of ag vacate, agriculture education, teaching Spanish and English as a second language. Primarily to people working in agriculture. I learned so much in this episode, we get into a lot of the challenges and the joys of entrepreneurship. Using practical, common language skills to improve life for everyone working in agriculture. And that AI means something completely different in the dairy industry. 

You'll have to listen to the end for that one. If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like my interview with Katie Palmer co-host of the Barnard language podcast, which you can find linked in the show notes. So let's get into it. 

Emily: Thank you so much for being here, Katie.

Katie: Thank you for having me.

Emily: So what do you do for work?

Katie: I'm a teacher. So most people, it's funny when they're like, Oh, what do you do for a living? And I'm like, Oh, I'm an educator. And they're like, where at? Like expecting me to, Give them a school.

[00:01:00] And then I say through my own business and they're like, what? And so, yeah, I created a business. I was a dairy farmer all my life up until about three years ago. so what I do now is I teach Spanish and English as a second language to adults. That's a lot of people miss that adults.

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: I've had my fair share.

I used to teach in the middle and high school. Levels, which I miss the, the students, but I don't miss anything else that comes with public education. I just don't but I started this as a side hustle. Gosh, I was trying to think, I think, six years ago. It's actually going on seven years. again, being a dairy farmer, we always focused on this gap between consumers and farmers.

But I was like, is nobody like picking up the gap we have within agriculture, which is between English speakers and Spanish speakers. A lot of people are shocked to find out that 80 percent of our workforce in agriculture speak Spanish.

Emily: Wow, and doesn't speak English or speak some English?

Katie: It really depends on the generation and their education level when they come here. And, and I don't, [00:02:00] I run into people that are like, oh, you know, they're taking our jobs, blah, blah, blah. And I, as being on the employer end of that, it's a huge challenge for really the U. S. agriculture as, as a whole, as an industry to find qualified people or people really that just want to do the work. And so I have done my fair share of advocating and I still will advocate any chance I get for, you know, about 98 percent of the population that don't understand agriculture or have been removed from agriculture, but I was noticing the disconnect within the industry.

Thank you

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: So with, you know, the 80 percent and I'm talking again, the industry as a whole, my little bubble of the world was always dairy farming and it bothered me because I just, and this is my opinion, and this is what I witnessed that the Spanish speakers that were here from whatever country they came from were being discriminated against.

They were just really being treated as like second class citizens. And what really bothered me was. A lot [00:03:00] of them do want to learn English, but there's just not really great avenues for them to do so. And so one of the things that I always say to people is, you know, we've been employing immigrant labor for decades.

And the best that we've been able to do for them is offer a community college course at like four o'clock in the afternoon, which nobody's going to make by the And let's teach them touristy stuff when they need to learn. The language that's applicable to their line of work, but also the basics of like, you know, how to live in another country.

And I think a lot of times, and I know America, right? We're so big. And so there's a lot of people that maybe haven't experienced traveling abroad. It's one of my favorite things to do. And it's not just for the travel part. It's to, you get a completely different perspective when you go to other countries.

And I've been to Mexico, I've been Honduras. I've been to countries that You know, are beautiful in the touristy areas and they're beautiful really on, on the non touristy areas. But what people don't understand is why the, why behind the immigrant [00:04:00] labor in the U S why are they coming here? And most of them do want to learn English because they want to be able to live here.

Like I tell people, imagine going to a country where you don't know the language.

You'd be scared to death. Right? So anyway, I saw this big disconnect and this big, you know, gap and. It didn't sit well with me. And so after talking to, and I've worked with Spanish speakers now for 15 plus years, and I know we're going to get into, I guess, my credentials later.

I did go back to school for Spanish. I actually started learning in the third grade. I just thought it was so cool. I have built my business around one. So it's two prongs. It's a two prong approach and the mission of what I do. And you can always go to my website and check out my mission statement and whatnot, but to paraphrase it and to pare it down quite simply is to meet in the middle, there is nothing wrong with Americans learning some Spanish and.

Spanish speakers learning some English, meaning I'm not asking either side to be fluent. I'm just asking you to to come to the table right to learn [00:05:00] each other's culture to learn a bit of the language so that we can communicate. I mean, if you think about it, and it's so cliche to say, but communication is everything.

I don't care what you're doing. If you're an introvert, if you're an extrovert communication is the basis of everything that we do. And it's really the respect too, right? Like respect goes both ways. So I teach Spanish online and. My students are from California to Delaware to Canada. They are dairy farmers.

They are veterinarians. They are hoof trimmers, nutritionists, people that work within the industry and realizing that they're coming into contact with Spanish speakers more frequently. You know, if we keep.

Employing immigrant labor, of course, you're going to be hopefully promoted, you know, up the ranks.

And so a lot of especially veterinarians are finding out that when they go to a farm, it's not the farm owner that they're talking to the first person that they're talking to. It's usually a Spanish speaker that has worked their way up to herdsman status or farm [00:06:00] manager status. So I, and I love what I do.

So all of my students are adults. My age range is about, I'm going to say 20 and my oldest, and I still tutor him on the side after he's taken both of my courses is 74.

Emily: Nice. That was amazing. It's 

never too late. 

Katie: Yes. No, that's what people tell me. Oh, I'm too old to learn a language. I'm like, well, let me introduce you to my buddy, Rich, and he's amazing,

Emily: would you say you mostly teach Spanish or you mostly teach English as a second language?

Katie: but I didn't even get to that part yet.

So right now,

Emily: I jumped ahead.

Katie: no, you're fine. But right now it is mostly Spanish. And it is tailored to agriculture. That's the big thing that's. is different about what I do. It's not touristy. it is the basics, right? Like you have to learn the alphabet and the numbers and whatnot, but I have three very specific courses that I teach right now that I created from scratch.

They are dairy, swine, and poultry. And I've already been approached by other industries to be like, Hey, can we you know, get a curriculum for, for this industry, like the [00:07:00] nursery industry, the construction industry, the hospitality industry. So that is, it's still growing, but the other part of my business is ESL, which stands for English as a second language.

And right now what I'm doing with that is in person and it's just one farm. And I, I kind of, I don't tell too many people about it right now because everybody wants me, which is exciting, but I'm only one person. And I already drive an hour and a half to this farm every Wednesday. And these guys, these guys are also, I just got my first girl, so I can't keep saying guys, but They are all here on TN visas, which I'm learning a lot about the, the visa work programs that we have because we never, we don't have any for dairy because dairy is not seasonal.

It's seasonal. You know, 365 days a year.

Emily: Right. Wow. Yeah, you must be learning a ton about immigration 

Katie: I am. I am. And I actually used to, when I was a dairy farmer and was shipping milk for a co op, one of the things I love to do is when they would call me and say, Hey, [00:08:00] can you help us lobby down in DC? And I would say yes. Every time I knew immigration was at the top of the list because we need a program.

So. Anyway yeah, I teach ESL and I have plans, which it's already in the works, but it's to I want to bring my program to the broader Hispanic community because the work schedules are just a lot harder to work around. But again, I want them to be not only tailored to agriculture, but I want them to.

Learn things that are going to help them be comfortable in this country. So for example, the farmer that reached out to me to teach his crew English. And again, they're all adults and they're actually currently all from Mexico. And I remember my first conversation with him and I said, he has a swine operation.

And I said, okay, do you want me to, you know, go over pig anatomy and this and that, and he, there's this like awkward silence and he's like, I mean, you can, but I just want them to learn what they want to learn so that they're comfortable living here. And I'm like,

Emily: Yeah, [00:09:00] how simple, but it's so critical, you

Katie: Right. And I'm just like, I wish more people had that attitude because I think a lot of times I'm like, I get it.

I've owned multiple businesses and I get the part where you're like, you, you just want your employees to know like what you do or you work, but work is only a part of your life, right? Like you have so many other things to your life. So why not? help them have a better life, I guess. I mean, it's, it's as simple as you can get.

Emily: Yeah. Wow. Oh my gosh. What a beautiful thing to pursue for your work. I would love to go back and talk a little bit more about like how you got there. You know, you said you had the background as a dairy farmer, maybe a little bit about how you found yourself transitioning full time away from that. Any kind of education or certification you have to to do the teaching at this point.

Katie: So my first degree. So if you would have asked me in high school, Katie, what are you going to do when you grow up? I would have told you I was going to be part of the third generation of my family farm, which I was [00:10:00] for like a couple of years. And it was at that time, well, before I came back that I got my first degree in business management and marketing.

I love marketing. It's my jam. but then I, I left my family dairy and pursued. So I went from being a third generation dairy farmer to a first generation dairy farmer and co owned my own farm for 13 years.

Emily: Cool.

Katie: Yeah. I did. It's not for the faint of heart. I can tell.

Emily: Yes. 

Katie: But quite simply, and it's, I am fine to talk about it.

It's, it was a divorce that brought me to this. So I had started the side hustle. I don't, if anybody's in the dairy industry, it's no secret that most spouses. one or sometimes both have to work off farm to bring in an income because you're not going to get rich or even, you know, there's not a lot of money in farming.

People do it for the lifestyle. People do it for the love of it. But I had already started this just because I, again, I, I saw that gap and I was actually at one time I was Teaching are doing this as a side hustle, teaching [00:11:00] full time in the high school farming. And I had an ice cream business that I started on farm and I was doing public speaking and merchandising on the side.


Emily: Oh my gosh. 

Katie: yeah, I look I look back at that and I'm like, how that I don't even know when I slept. I really don't. So yeah, I was renting a farm when I decided to go back to school. So I legit was taking classes, like going back to school for Spanish and education. Cause you can't, I found out you can't just take, take the language.

You, there wasn't enough credit. So I had to pick something

Emily: Gotcha.

Katie: and yeah, I was taking classes in between milking cows. 

Emily: Whoa. 

Katie: So it was, it was quite a journey because none of my credits, by the way, none of my business credits transferred. So I had to start all over again,

Emily: So was this to get a teaching certificate to teach at the high school or did you do this correct. do the work that Well, 

Katie: No, you know what? I, when I went back to school for Spanish, I didn't even have the side hustle as an idea.

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: I didn't, I just knew that I loved the language and I just [00:12:00] felt like I wasn't going where I wanted to in life with just the business degree. I know that sounds crazy, but I just always had this.

yearning to learn more Spanish. And cause my, I started in third grade, my third grade teacher was non native speaker, but she thought it'd be cool to like teach us numbers and just, you know, the basics. And I remember that Christmas asking Santa for a book and I got it with a cassette. So if that's telling you how old I am,

Emily: Oh my gosh. I love it.

Katie: yeah, it was so excited to get to high school and take, you know, the legit.

Spanish classes and I get there and I was sorely disappointed my teacher was a great person, but wasn't a great teacher. So my passion just died out. So I only took 2 years, but fast forward my senior year. I believe of high school. We, my family's hired their first Spanish speaker to join the team.

His name was Octavio and I milked the night shift with him that, that summer. And I learned it just reignited my passion for it. So so yeah, I went back to school to, to learn more of the language [00:13:00] and I went for secondary education, which is, is high school. And I also, it was so funny because I remember seeing the minor in ESL and I was like, Well, that's a no brainer, right?

Like if you're, you're learning a language, but then maybe something happens in the future where I need this credential. And I was always interested in it. So I have a certificate in English as a second language.

Emily: Oh, my gosh, that's so interesting so you went back to school for secondary education and Spanish so that you could teach. And were you thinking at that time that you were mostly going to teach it at high school or you just weren't quite sure yet exactly what you wanted to do with it?

Katie: Yeah. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, but I knew with having a dairy farm, that teaching was a safe Alternative, I guess. And like, it's funny because so my dad is still a dairy farmer. My family dairy is still in operation and my mom actually was a fifth grade teacher all of her life. And so I've kinda like, and I, you know, I had, I knew what it entailed from what my mom had done.

[00:14:00] And I just think it's cool that I've kind of taken both of them and made it my passion together. So

Emily: Yeah. Absolutely. And I could see how being a public school teacher would have some benefits for a farming spouse, right? Like you have some of the stability and the. The summer's off and the, you know, arguably shorter days, I'm sure it's not in practice shorter days, and the pension and things like that to pay.

I bet you do see that combination from time to time. But I also just wanted to say, I really love that story of your third grade teacher. I mean, it's so amazing when someone's attention is captured at a young age and you can kind of follow that through all the way that.

Yeah. Languages were something that spoke to you at that young an age and you found yourself in it now. 

Katie: Yeah. I just, I remember thinking I was talking in code because nobody in my family spoken language. Right. And yeah, so it's, it was a lot of fun.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. So can you share, you know, if someone was thinking about this kind of work, [00:15:00] could you share a little bit about, you know, maybe what your hourly rate is or kind of a, general salary range, whatever you feel comfortable with of what someone that was looking to teach a second language might 

Katie: Yeah, so to answer that, I have to, I need to go into kind of detail what those classes entail. So my Spanish class, no matter which sector of ag you're in, they are. They're a total of 14 weeks, and for the 1st, 8 weeks, I teach live and so when I teach live, and they're always in the evenings, because I try to accommodate my adult students scheduled best I can, but it's not like, actually, I have a lot of students to take the courses via recordings.

Emily: Uh, uh Huh.

Katie: I teaching them live? Yes. But if you can make it live, cool. If not, you can, you know, I have, I usually have them posted within an hour of the course uh, when it's over. So you are getting 16 total like live lesson lectures. You are getting access to me. I answer all of my students. Questions either via email [00:16:00] or I'm a very big proponent of like, I'm here to help you.

And I always tell my students, I, I teach you Spanish the way I wish I would have been taught. Like I call them Katie isms because there's this like, Hey, I remember this word by, you know, this or certain things like that. And it's just certain things that I wish somebody would have told me. Cause I would have learned the language a lot faster.

And that's the whole purpose of these classes. Like you should see the cumulative assessment. That's my fancy word for final exam at the end. Like students walk in, like they start my class knowing zero, they might know Ola and Gracias, but by the end of the 14 weeks, if they've really devoted themselves to it.

They're putting together these amazing sentences by the end of it. And it, I'm not going to lie. It, I get teary eyed every time they start sending me that cumulative assessment because I see the progress and I'm just like, I am so ridiculously proud of you.

Emily: gosh, that's amazing.

Katie: So I tell you that, and then I'll tell you.

So I had to, I struggle [00:17:00] a lot with pricing because again, a lot of my. Students are farmers and I get it. I've been there, but I also have to remind myself, this is my business and I have bills to pay too. And I'm not an extravagant person. So my rate right now is 698 a person, 698 per student.

And again, you get the 14 total weeks.

So I wanted to clarify the first eight weeks or the live, but recorded lesson lectures, but then you get the additional six weeks to either go back and revisit things, or maybe you're just getting started. Maybe something happened in those first eight weeks, but you're going back and you're pacing yourself on your time schedule.

Emily: Mm hmm.

Katie: You know, some people do better with a pace of the live course, but some students are like, Nope, I'm going to cram all this in at the end and that's okay too. But they all they have access to me. And so if I have a student to that gives me a laundry list of, Hey, Katie, I don't understand X, Y, and Z. I will try everything that I can to schedule a one on one zoom with apps with that student.

You [00:18:00] also get to keep everything from my class. So I give you digital flashcards from the get go. They're already made for you. All you have to do is bookmark them and you'll have them forever.

You can download all of my PDFs. Everything's copyrighted, so you can't sell them. But everything is downloadable and you can keep except for the video lessons.

That's the only thing that you can't download. So, for 6. 98 a student, and the other portion of this is I always research. What a, and I'm using air quotes here, a comparative of what I'm doing, which there really isn't like, yeah, there's college courses and that's actually what I compare it to. But you also have to remember too, this is a very, very specific curriculum.

And I have taught, I've been an adjunct professor for a college before teaching their Spanish for ag. And I'm sorry, not sorry. It's got nothing on what I, because I literally wrote mine from scratch from my experience, boots on the ground experience as a farmer.

Emily: Yeah. Wow. Yeah. That's amazing. And I mean, I, I think that makes a lot of sense. one thing [00:19:00] I'm wondering, and the only, if you're comfortable kind of talking about this, but so you are, is your business like, are you a sole proprietor? You have your own business, you employ yourself.

Katie: Correct. I'm an LLC and I actually, I just submitted paperwork for an escort because taxes kill me.

Emily: Oh, okay. How did you learn about making that change from an LLC to an S corp? You're actually the second person I've spoken to recently who mentioned that. Did you kind of learn that on the fly or do you work with an accountant?

Katie: Well, I learned it on the fly. I like to say the hard way because I, I wish I would have named from the get go. Cause I, my tax bills last year were just insane, but I am on my third accountant. I fired my last two.

Emily: Oh,

Katie: Because I don't like to be talked down to. I don't like to be it's, it's a whole other thing, 

but I finally I finally found one that not only like when I first talked to an accountant, I always said, look, I understand you have boxes to check for what you do, but I need you to be team Katie and not TMI IRS, like,

Emily: Right.

Katie: you know, like, if you want me to [00:20:00] continue to be a client of yours, I need to stay in business.

So help me make better decisions. money decisions. Like I've got the marketing, I've got this, I've got that numbers. And I, I just, this is why I teach Spanish and not math.

Emily: Right, right. Yeah, you're, you're, you know, you're employing someone who is the expert in that situation. So they need to be a good partner for you. That's actually, I think that's a good adult life lesson in any time that if you are running into someone who is an expert that's supposed to help you and you don't feel like they're supporting you the way they should just move on.

There's more. Realtors, there's more accountants, there's more attorneys, there's more bankers, there's more all of those things. And don't look back because you can waste a lot of time in

Katie: Exactly. It's like, it's like doctors. I just went through that to find one that would listen to me was it was frustrating, but it, the accountant situation was the same thing because I'm like, I'm here asking you for your help and I'm paying you for your help. So if you're not willing to help me, then I'm going to move on

Emily: [00:21:00] Yeah. Yeah. What about things like, and again, this is only if you're comfortable talking about it, but what do you do for things like healthcare, retirement savings, things like that?

Katie: healthcare. I, you just opened a can of worms.

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: Um, I will, I will not get on a soapbox. I just think it is the biggest racket in the U S I have been dealing with a lot of issues with healthcare this past year. And it's not easy for, I mean, I know it's not easy for anybody, but especially for entrepreneurs.

So if somebody is out there listening to me and like knows a secret that I don't, please let me know. Like I, it's, it's insane because like, I have to pay for all of this myself and I, I'm not complaining. Like, I absolutely love what I do. One of the biggest benefits of doing what I do for me is the flexibility.

I don't want to ever give that up again, but on the other side of it, it's like, I don't have employer paid health insurance. It's one of my biggest expenses. And I'm [00:22:00] one person.

So when I even think about like, I would love to hire people because I have so much work. That it's hard. Like I have to turn gigs down it's funny.

Cause I actually, my dad told me about a year ago, he was like, you should probably hire somebody. I'm like, yeah, well, I can't afford me sometimes. So um, yeah, healthcare is, is awful. I pay for it out of pocket. and 

Emily: about how much you pay for it? 

Katie: yeah. Yep. So I go through a broker, so I don't and I'm so glad I have a broker. So if somebody is out there thinking about going into business go through a broker because they will help you shop for the plan that it's because it's not all about money, right?

It's about what you need personally. So my health insurance right now is 540 a month just for me, and it's, it's a pretty high deductible, but it was. There was some things I needed covered this year that I didn't have a choice to get cheaper health insurance.

So that yeah, it's. pretty.

Emily: Yeah. It's, I mean, it's a tough thing to [00:23:00] ask about, but I, I've been asking more small business owners because it does seem like, you know, as a, as a, country. We want plenty of small business owners who are making their own way and pursuing their, passions or interests or dreams.

But this one particular aspect is really challenging. And I'll say, I've talked to quite a few small business owners at this point. And most of them, if they seem to have figured it out, it's because they have a partner who provides their health insurance that works in like a, Corporation or works for the government or something else with kind of stable employer provided healthcare, which, you know, that, that can work great, but it also makes a choice for one of you that you have to stay in that situation.

And if their employment changes or your, you know, your marriage changes, any of those things, it can put people in a really hard position. So thank you for sharing that. And I'm, I'm sorry, you're managing it, but I don't think you are missing some special A special trick. I think you're doing it as well as it [00:24:00] can be done.

Katie: Yeah. Well, and so as far as the retirement question, I do have, so when I left public school teaching, I had a 401k and I rolled that over. So I have, I have an investment portfolio. I have a Roth. I should know this. It's either a traditional or a Roth. It's one of the two. I have an IRA. We'll just put it that way.

And then I have a high yield savings account, which I know everybody is complaining about the high interest rates, which there's a reason I don't have a house right now. But on the flip side of that, it is doing amazingly well for my high yield

savings account. 

Emily: Those savings accounts are doing great right 

Katie: Yeah. Yes they are. And then I think the biggest benefit for me as being self-employed is my sep IRA.

So that is a special specific IRA for self-employed people. And the cap on that is like $66,000,

which I don't have that much, but , yeah. So it's, I was actually just talking, I had a appointment with my accountant today for my 2023 taxes. [00:25:00] And we were, I set that up last year and that saved me some money.

And so she was super excited to hear that I had a set, she said, because it just helps tremendously when you're self employed. So, yes, I do have retirement. I have to pay quarterly, which takes care of Social Security and Medicare and all that stuff. So it's a lot of money going out,

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about what your hours are like? You know, what, do you feel like you have good work life balance? Do you feel like you kind of have some control over your schedule or is it somewhat determined by the students that you're teaching?

Katie: It depends on the week.

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: I am always, I think working on boundaries, right? So when you do what you love, I don't consider it work. Like I absolutely love what I get to do for a living. My hours. I mean, my goodness, most weeks I'm putting 60 to 80 hours in, but. On the flip side of that, I make sure that I carve out [00:26:00] time for the things that I like to do, like dancing.

I love line dancing. So

Emily: Nice.

Katie: even if I'm super tired, it's actually a really good way for me to get stress out. I am a big fitness person. I, I lift three days a week. It's all my own home gym. I live on a battlefield, so I'm walking at least I try to walk about three miles a day. So that's really important to me.

And that's something I really had to work through because I could sit at my computer all day and do work. But that's not I'm going to burn myself out real quick. And actually, I did that last year and I don't want to go back there

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: classes in session. That is a lot of work because I'm averaging about 70 students per session.

And I do a fall, winter and spring session.

Emily: Mm hmm.

Katie: And it's a lot of students and I don't think I mentioned this. They do submit homework. I don't grade it. There's a method to my madness, but we do go over it. I do open all their homework because as an educator, I need to know, you know, are they, are they understanding the concepts?

Is there something that I need to reteach next [00:27:00] week?

And always there for my students, you know, like, I'm still answering your, I will not answer emails on Sundays, but I will still be answering your emails. You know, after class. Saturdays. And that's another thing too. When I teach Tuesday and Thursday evenings, my last class is over by 8 45, nine o'clock.

Well, I still have to download that recording and then upload it to my teaching platform. So by the time I'm doing all that, like I'm still not getting to bed till, you know, 11, 12 o'clock on Tuesday and Thursday nights. So, and if I'm not careful, because most people, you know, if we look at the typical workday, People work a nine to five or an eight to four, whatever.

I'm just starting to get into my workday at like 5 PM. Because again, I'm trying to accommodate my students, my adult students that have a busy life of their own. So if I'm not careful and I start working, you know, eight o'clock in the morning, I, and I've done it. I'll put a 14 hour day in and I'm like, why am I so tired?

Emily: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. That's so interesting. [00:28:00] And I'm glad that you found that, balance. I think that can be so hard as an entrepreneur is knowing when to, you, you like sort of have the ultimate flexibility, but then you also in some ways have even

less. So, 

Katie: of people when they find out I'm self employed, they're like, oh, you have it so easy. You can do this. You can do that. And I'm like, you have no idea how hard I work. Like this laptop that I'm talking on right now, this thing is my best friend. Like, I take this laptop everywhere because my life is on it, you know, and like, so further to my ESL students, which I didn't even get into the numbers on that.

They were on a group chat and there's sometimes we're like, Hey, Katie, can you translate this real quick? Or, you know, things like that. And I'm all to help people, but I've also had to set boundaries that way too, because I also have a life and I, I enjoy being with my family and I enjoy being with my friends and it can be really hard and I actually have a business coach right now and I'm, she's one of the best things I ever did for myself because she keeps me [00:29:00] accountable.

And she will ask, you know, when's the last time you did this for yourself? And I'm like, oh my gosh, you know, I, I didn't, or the boundaries is, it's big. I have had to learn too, that I don't have to get back to your email right when you send it 

Emily: Right. 

Katie: take me a day or two.

Emily: Right. Right. Yes. That's, I mean, that's a huge boundaries. That's a huge important thing. It's so true. And how did you about go about finding the business coach? was a good fit for you.

Katie: You know, I wasn't even looking for one, but she started popping up on my, my Instagram feed and she's also specific to agriculture and I started looking into her and then I just sent her a message and explained to her what I did. And we had this, like, it was supposed to be a 30 minute, you know, zoom introductory call and it ended up being an hour and a half because.

We just had so much in common. One is business owners, but two, like how we could help each other and it took me a while because you know, she has her own crisis and I'm like, oh, do I really need this? You know, can I afford this? But I'm so glad I took I'm doing it [00:30:00] because there are there. I've had to make some really hard decisions.

That I don't know that I, one, could have made without her or two, if I had made, I wouldn't be at peace with. I am at peace with that because I have this person who is in my corner who says, Katie, you've got this or maybe, you know, it's something that, okay, let's talk through this. Because, you know, you can talk all you want with your best friend about this or that, but it takes somebody with that.

And she's, certified in coaching, but it's, it takes that, certain person with that certification and then know how to walk you through a certain decision. Like, and you know, as a business owner, I would be afraid to count how many decisions I have to make in a day.

Emily: Right. 

Katie: But yeah, so I found her on social media and she has been a fantastic fit for my business.

Emily: Oh my gosh. That's, I feel like uh, we're getting a little crash run and small business tactics here. So that's really been helpful. And it's good to know that you found someone who's, been so helpful. Okay. So you've mentioned a lot of things that you love about your work, but is there [00:31:00] anything that you would add that you really love about your job?

I think, especially if it's something people seem surprised about when you share with them. Yeah.

Katie: The biggest thing I love about what I do is the impact that it makes, and it might not seem like a big impact to people, but if I can share a little story with you, it just, it'll illustrate this so much better than I could put into words. I had a student couple years ago, she asked me if I could jump on zoom before our class, by the way, she was only halfway through my class a week for.


Emily: Yeah.

Katie: And I always encourage my students. Look, I know that you don't know a lot of language, but use what you're learning so far. So our very first day, we go over greetings, right? So buenos dias, buenas tardes, como estas? That's good morning, good afternoon, how are you? And so she's like, Katie, I have to tell you what happened. I'm thinking something horrible happened. Oh my gosh, you know. So she said she's a milk tester out in Wisconsin, and she said, I went to one of my farms that it's a regular farm on my route. And it's a big farm. It's like a five, that 6, 000 cow [00:32:00] dairy. And she said, I usually go there. I do my job. The Hispanics do their job.

And that's it. She said, but I took your advice. And the first thing I did when I went in there and set up all my milk sampling bottles was I said, Buenos dias. And she said, you should have seen their faces. Like they lit up and they're like, Oh my gosh, you know, Spanish. And it's so funny because I know what happens as soon as a Spanish speaker hears, you just utter a phrase.

They're like, blah, blah, blah. And so, but I also teach my, the very first phrase that you learn in my class day one is a stoic append the endo, which means I am learning. So right there, you communicate, Hey man, I just say good morning, but I'm learning, you know, so like slow the train. And she said, so again, on a, on a dairy this big, that shift is about seven, eight hours long.

And she said, it went so fast and it was so much fun. I was, they were teaching me more Spanish. I was teaching them English. She said, we had a blast. Now the kicker to this story [00:33:00] is there was a, I mean, we're talking Wisconsin here in the winter, and a blizzard had come through and dumped a ton of snow. She said, not only was The, the shift fun.

She said, I went out to load all of these samples into my car and I had found that the crew had cleaned my car off. And I'm just like, like, I'm, I was trying to like 

choke back here. 

Emily: dusty in here. I

Katie: Like, right. 

And I said to her, I said, do you realize how much respect that you garnered in just a matter of hours because you tried. You know, and that's just one of many stories, Emily, like I, I do ask my students to take a survey at the end of my class to like, you know, I'm always trying to improve things like, hey, what did you like about the class? What did you not like? What can I do better? But before they even get to the survey, because it's not even visible until they get to the last week of class. I lapsed and I don't ask them to do this. It comes unsolicited and I love it. They'll send me their homework and they'll be like, oh, hey, by the way. And I screenshot this stuff and I put it in a Word document because there are days where I'm just like, what am I [00:34:00] doing is what I'm doing worth it. And all I have to do is go back to that Word document.

And just an example, one of my current students. He's like, Hey Katie, here's week five homework. And by the way, I was out sorting cows with Juan and he was so impressed that I could rattle off ear tag numbers in Spanish. Like just, you know, it's the little things. So when people ask me, what do you love about what you do?

That is what I love about what I do, because we're changing. mindset one person at a time. And that's all I set out to do.

Emily: Yeah. And you know, it's, it's kind of like you said at the beginning, it's just acknowledging someone's humanity. It's mutual respect. It's, it's really meaningful, you 

Katie: It is, you know, 

Emily: life better.

Katie: yes. And I just redid my mission statement. And one of my favorite parts in it is really treating each other as a human, like quit treating people differently just because they speak differently or they look differently or they do a different custom differently. Like we're all human.

We all laugh in the same language and we all cry in the same [00:35:00] language.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. 

Not to pivot negative too quickly, but is there, is there anything that is tough about it that either you didn't expect or you just didn't anticipate how challenging it would be?

Katie: Yes. Two things. People don't want to pay for services, which I get, like I said, to a point, but you, at some point you have to ask yourself, are you willing to invest in yourself? Are you willing to invest in your team? Whether that's again at a farm or wherever you're working with Spanish speakers. I get really tired of like, oh, I can't afford you.

I'm like, well, then I'm sorry. I'm not, I'm not for you right now in this season of your life. But I've done my homework. I know that I'm, my prices are where they need to be. That's, that's one thing. Another one that I've had to really learn to deal with grace. It does not matter when I promote my Spanish courses online.

I always get somebody that has the attitude of, well, they're here. They need to learn English.

Emily: Cool. Yep. Yep. [00:36:00] Yep. And usually that person. Has never employed a Spanish speaker. They've never had the workforce challenges. Or if they did, they just still have this really poor attitude and. I'm kind of known to be a little sassy because I'm also sugar coat stuff for you.

Katie: But 1, 1 thing that I'd like to tell people, and I, this actually happened at a really big meeting. I was moderating a panel. And these 2 farmers got into it about. About this topic. And I shut him down at the end because. It was getting pretty derogatory and I really also hate when people say, well, those damn Mexicans or whatever.

And I'm like, first off,

Emily: Yikes.

Katie: you know, and I do a cultural presentation. You also learn about culture in my class, but there's a presentation that I give too. I also do public speaking. I don't know if I mentioned 

that. Yeah, 

but in the speech that I give, it's, I have this one slide and it's my favorite because it, it kind of pisses people off, but for good reason, because it generates conversations that we need to have.

And so the [00:37:00] title of the slide is don't be an arrogant jerk. And we talk about the difference between ignorance and arrogance.

Emily: Mm hmm.

Katie: And I have on the slide, all of these different phrases that I have heard firsthand. In the ag industry. And one of those is we have Mexicans I remember a farmer saying this to me once and I said, Oh, are they all from Mexico?

And he said, well, no, I don't think so. And I said, well, then you can't say that. Like, that's Like,

Oh, no. And you're actually, you have no idea, but you're actually offending people because people it's just like us. It's if you're most people from America are very proud to be Americans. People from Honduras are proud to be Honduran.

People from Guatemala are proud to be Guatemalan. Don't you dare call a Guatemalan a Mexican. That does not go over well.

Emily: right.


Katie: people just like to, to group, you know, all Spanish speakers together. And if people only knew how diverse the culture was within the different countries, even in my gosh, [00:38:00] in Mexico alone, there's like over 300 different dialects.

It's ridiculous.

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: So anyway. I go over that because I think sometimes we don't realize what we're saying can be hurtful to other people.

Emily: Mm hmm

Katie: So anyway, that's, that's the, one of the bigger things that I deal with, with people's, I call it the antiquated attitude. Like we are still in 1930 and nobody taught you the, nobody taught you how to be nice to others.

Emily: No time like the present to start being nicer.

Katie: Right,

Emily: Yeah, I imagine that is really, really challenging. But, I mean, it sounds like you're really doing the work within the course to try to, try to change that. And you never know when you're going to catch someone at the right time to change their mind on that.

Katie: right. Yeah, and I actually the last time I gave that I gave it at the keynote at a conference recently, and I had a farmer come up to me at the end and said, you know, I really didn't like your, your one slide. But it got me thinking and I have said some of those things and now I feel pretty awful that I [00:39:00] have and I was like, well, the good thing is is you recognize that and now you can make changes going forward.

Emily: Yeah, I think that sometimes what's missed in those, you know, learning and changing is that I don't think anyone expects people to be perfect from day one forever and make no slip ups. It's just about learning and trying to do better all the time. You know?

Katie: Yep. And then one of one of the things I actually added to that presentation was a quote that says Normalize changing your behavior or changing your mindset when presented with new information.

Emily: Yeah. There it is. 

That's it right there. You know? Yeah. So what do you hope to be doing more of or less of in the next five to 10 years? 

Katie: Oh man. I would love to continue to do what I do. Like, I love what I'm doing and I have big plans to expand both the Spanish and the ESL aspects of my business. But I also don't wanna get burnt out, so I am always keeping an open mind to other opportunities. I have a lot [00:40:00] of things that I love to do.

I traveling is one of them. And you know, I, I, I don't, that's a really hard question to answer because I never thought I would be doing this full-time. And I am, and I've actually been approached by some people to jump ship into the ai. Artificial intelligence, not artificial insemination is part of

that, but 

Emily: go for artificial insemination at first, so I'm glad you clarified for the people who would have 

Katie: yeah, I still do it because I'm used to being that,

but Yeah.

I love technology and it's in agriculture. I won't go too much into it, but yeah, like I'm always up for new things, but I don't think I will ever abandon my mission of bridging cultures together because I think it's so important. And again, if we're going to continue to employ this number of.

Immigrant labor in agriculture, we need to start being able to communicate and work better together.

Emily: Yeah. A thousand percent. Yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense. It's a big [00:41:00] question. So thanks for being game. So this is the last question I have for you. What is one piece of advice generally about work that you would give your younger self? 

Katie: So I'm going to, I'm going to steal something from my business coach that she actually just posted yesterday. Cause it just spoke to me and it was money is a tool, not a goal. when you are self employed and I've been through some, some really hard stuff in my life financially.

And so I'm always. Making sure that I'm stable, making sure that I, you know, not only can pay my bills, but. Again, I don't live an extravagant lifestyle, but I want to be able to live this life to the fullest at the same token,

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: but I think I worry too much about that. And I need to constantly remind myself that money is a tool, not a goal.

And my goal has never been to make a million dollars. I really don't care if I die penniless because with what I've been through in the last, just gosh, five years.

I have learned that what's really [00:42:00] important is relationships, whether that's family, friends, the, the relationships that I build with my students, both, you know, ESL and Spanish, that's what life's about.

So, the advice would be, don't worry too much about it. And, you know, money will come and it'll come in seasons and it might not come as much as you want it to, or whatever, but what you don't get back. Is your time

Emily: Yeah.

Katie: and time is more valuable than money. In my opinion,

Emily: Wow. Yep. That, that is a good piece of advice. So where can people find out more about the work that you do if they're interested?

Katie: the biggest place you can go check out is my website and make sure you spell it right. Cause some people don't and they're like, wait, what? So advocate. So it's a play in my name, right? So advocate for agriculture, but it's a G V O. So like agriculture, ag vocate, K a T E. com. Honestly, yeah, if you just type that in Google, it should come up.

and if you want to get a hold of me, my email's in there under the abouts. [00:43:00] That's the best way to get a hold of me. I'm also on Instagram and Facebook. Facebook is agvocate and Instagram is the underscore agvocate.

Emily: Great. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for your time, Katie. This was a really fun discussion.

Katie: Well, good. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me.


Katie: Thanks for joining me. If you liked the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify. And please share with a friend. You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or ticktock. And if you'd like to be interviewed here or there's a particular job you'd like to learn about, please reach