Griffs Under 40: Alana M. (Keppler) Welker '12
Alana M. (Keppler) Welker ’12 is the modern-day face of the American farmer. She has grit, gumption and grace, all of which she uses to manage SK Herefords, a 1,200-acre cattle farm in Medina, NY.
Being a female farmer may go against the grain in this male-dominated industry, but Welker knew what she was getting into. She is the fifth generation in her family to manage the farm, which calves nearly 300 females every spring and breeds more than 300 head every summer. In addition, SK Herefords grows 100 percent of its feed.
Aside from some seasonal part-time help, it’s just Welker, her father and a close family friend working long days – nearly every day – “calving, feeding, planting, plowing and bailing hay.”
Welker is accustomed to the physical labor that accompanies farming. Her Canisius degree, she says, helps her navigate the business aspect of the homestead.
Following the 2012 drought, which affected all Western New York farmers, Welker implemented the business plan she wrote for her senior capstone project. The plan sought to capitalize on the growth of the farm-to-table movement by introducing SK Herefords beef at farmers markets.
“That business plan has helped the farm generate additional cash flow and get our name out in the community,” Welker says. “Today’s consumers want to be more connected with where their food comes from, and this can help make the future strong.”
Both for the industry and for the next generation of farmers at SK Herefords.