Kathy Hornsby: Ag Woman of the YearPublished 9:49am Monday, November 4, 2013
Some doubt what role women can play in the agricultural industry, but there is one thing a woman can do in any field of work or just a field in general — and that is hold a family together.
Kathy Hornsby, secretary and office manager for Rentz Family Farms is not related to its owners and namesake, but they all say she might as well be. To those she works with, and has worked with, she is family.
Hornsby has worked in the industry for more than 40 years, not counting the days as a child she spent hoeing peanuts and picking cotton. She has devoted more than 20 years to Rentz Family Farms.
Hornsby was selected as the 2013 Ag Woman of the Year by the Decatur County Chamber of Commerce for her experience in the industry and devotion to her work.
Kevin Rentz of Rentz Family Farms told Hornsby he nominated her for the award the day it was announced she was selected as the winner.
Hornsby was in disbelief.
“I said, ‘You did what?’ and then I asked if I was the only person nominated,” Hornsby said, laughing about her conversation with Kevin Rentz.
Her industry experience began as a child, when times were different and children were helping hands to farming parents as many from Decatur County and South Georgia recall.
Because of working in the fields with her family at their very own farm she attributes this upbringing for her passion of the industry and the joy she gets from watching a crop yield.
“When I was young, you didn’t go to the beach and get a tan,” Hornsby said. “You got whatever tan you got in the peanut fields, pulling weeds and hoeing peanuts.”
And like anyone in the business today, Hornsby will tell you how the game has changed in every single aspect from technology to the way office paperwork is processed. The computers, she said, speed up the paperwork processes a lot and it is more precise and accurate using software rather than calculators like it was done when she started in the ag world.
But she adds that the most magical part about working with farmers and handling agricultural business is seeing the finished product, watching the peanuts be harvested after all of the work is done.
“I think the fact that I was born and raised on a farm — I enjoy seeing the crops and the fields when they are getting ready to be planted,” she said. “And once you see them planted, you want to see them grow and it just makes you have a good feeling.”
Today Hornsby works in the industry but isn’t out pulling weeds in the field. She works processing paperwork, keeping up with what chemicals and fertilizers and used and how much, all while managing the bills and books for the Rentz businesses which includes farms, farm supply and a trucking outfit.
“I feel like I am really doing something to help the industry,” Hornsby said. “I like to be a part of something; I like to work with people and I like being a part of something bigger than myself.
“Kevin (Rentz) was not even born when I started here and Dennis (Rentz) was just a little boy. So it’s sort of like a family I feel like I am a part of it.”
She worked for Martin Rentz, founder of the farm for nearly 29 years. She left, went to work for Birdsong Peanut for seven years and later worked as a secretary for Greg Calhoun at Circle C. Farms for three years. After some time living away and another several years being retired, Hornsby was asked to rejoin with Rentz in early 2013.
“I stayed at home for a while and thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to go to work,’ and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back or not,” Hornsby said. “But I came back out here and the rest is history.”
Hornsby was recently remarried to Butch Hornsby and together the two of them have five children and 11 grandkids.
Kevin Rentz said he wanted to nominate his coworker Kathy Hornsby for her experience in the agricultural industry and her devotion to farming.
“Mrs. Kathy returned to work for us earlier this year, which has been a blessing,” Rentz said in his letter of nomination. “She really deserves this. Her life has been devoted to agriculture and the many farmers she has helped through her years at Rentz Family Farm Supply. She loves a challenge and so far there is nothing she hasn’t been able to do or learn.”