When you meet Erin Huntimer, it’s easy to notice her wit, her passion for her community and her tenacity for seeing things through.

Erin is relatively new to North Dakota Farmers Union. She became involved when her daughter participated in the Oliver County EPIC events a few years ago.

“I quickly found North Dakota Farmers Union to be progressive in rural issues that are important to me, like women’s leadership, community sustainability, and the cooperative business model,” she said. “It’s a natural fit, as I’m a 15-year employee of Basin Electric Power Cooperative serving in community relations, and I raise Black Angus, Corrientes and longhorn cattle with my husband and two children in central Oliver County near Hannover.”

Erin serves as the board president for Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care in Hazen and a board member for the North Dakota Women’s Network. She is the past president of the International Association of Business Communicators-Great Plains chapter and volunteers her time with MC Dance Company in Hazen, Manley Mixers 4-H in Center, and as a Skywarn weather spotter for the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office.

As part of Erin’s work for Basin Electric, she led the formation of a new child care organization in Hazen, Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care, which opened its New Bethel Center in May of this year. The creation of this was inspired by the cooperative business model and sought other employers to partner with Basin Electric. Together, they built a new entity, purchased and renovated a church building, hired a highly qualified director, and opened their doors to families in the community — all within a little over a year.

“I’m excited to share our business model with other rural communities that are struggling to attract quality, sustainable child care,” she said.

Erin recently attended the National Farmers Union Women’s Conference in San Diego where she says two messages stood out clearly:  Thoughtful succession planning is critical for the survival of family farms and ranches; and women must lift each other up into leadership roles. On succession planning, only 30 percent of family farms and businesses survive being passed from one generation to the next.

“We’re failing to financially and educationally prepare the next generation,” she said. “Regarding women in leadership, women tend to underestimate their abilities, so ask them to step up for leadership roles. We make better decisions when everyone is at the table. Diversity wins.”

— Molly McLain, NDFU