Associate National Director
Laura Herrera was born and raised in Tipton County, Indiana. Historically, the economy of Tipton County was agriculturally based. In 1914, Tipton County had 2,067 working farms and 166,400 acres of farm land. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Tipton County, Indiana had 377 farms and 145,181 acres of farm land . Laura’s ancestry can be traced back to farming. Her great-grandparents, Roma and Lula Cage farmed in Sharpsville, Indiana. Her grandparents, Gene and Janet Cage raised Laura’s father, Butch, on the farm. The family farmed corn, beans and wheat. Laura’s grandparents also had hogs and cattle. Butch worked for a farm implement company for several years as a mechanic.
Laura’s parents, Butch and Linda Richards, built their home on Butch’s family farm ground and later, Laura’s grandparents then built a home next door. Growing up in the country, with her sister, Stacey, was a happy existence. Laura loved the outdoor activities of growing up: smelling the crops, hearing the rooster crow down the road, riding mopeds and go carts in the yard, planting gardens, going on hayrides, swimming in the pool, and snow mobiles in the winter. Until a few years ago, Butch & Linda still owned farm ground in Tipton County, but eventually sold it to the farmer who had always farmed it. Laura has a fond childhood memory was hooking up the wagon to the tractor and going over to her Great Uncle Mont’s farm to have a picnic. While quite elderly, Uncle Mont would come out to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the picnic.
Laura recalls that in high school, Agriculture was a required course. She also recalls, “drive your tractor to school day”, it was certainly not an experience that every high school student would have. Laura learned, after a summer of de-tasseling corn, that perhaps farming was not for her. Laura believes, that summer was the hardest work she has ever done.
After college, Laura moved to Hamilton County to civilization (meaning living somewhere that a pizza could be delivered). With the children grown and gone, Butch & Linda sold the home on the family farm ground and moved to the Lake. They enjoy lake life with less yard to mow and more time to boat.
Laura’s daughter, Brookelynne, was involved in showing horses through 4-H with her horse, Nike, for a couple of years. Brookelynne loves to ride and has volunteered from time to time with Agape Therapeutic Riding in Cicero, Indiana. Brookelynne also found fun in the summers with horse camps where she could improve her skills. While Brookelynne loved to ride, she also learned the responsibilities that come with it by mucking stalls, trailering the horses, feeding, bathing, cleaning, and preparing her horse for show.
Laura also rode horses for a period of time, deciding in her 30’s it was time to cease an opportunity for learning. Having rode western, she decided to take up English riding for pleasure. While her instructor urged her to compete, she found joy in learning the form and mechanics of a new skill set. She also found that the Morgan she was riding was a lovely horse. Laura also volunteered with Agape Therapeutic Riding and served as a horse handler for a few years. Horse handlers, not only clean and tack the horse for riding, but also teach the riders those skills as well. At Agape, horse handlers are responsible for the safe leading of the therapy horse during a lesson. Laura has not been able to volunteer as much as she would like these days with other obligations, however, Laura, through Miss Celebrations USA, is holding a pageant to benefit Agape Therapeutic Riding in July, 2018.
Laura believes Agribusiness is a vital part of the American Culture. While many who think of Indiana, think corn, Indiana actually produces approximately 1.5 million pounds of fish per year. Aquaculture equates to $15 million dollars of the State’s economy annually Indiana ranks 5th in the United States in swine production, 3rd for poultry and ranks 10th in the United States for total agriculture production . Indiana’s agriculture industry employs more than 107,500 direct workers and the total annual impact on agricultural sales was approximately $44.1 Billion dollars .
America’s Miss Agribusiness also salutes our military. Laura’s family has a vast array of those who served in the United States Military. Laura’s father, Butch, served in the United States Army, as well as her grandfathers who served in WWII. Laura also had several great uncles who served in the military. Laura’s grandfather, Hubert, served during the China Burma conflict and could speak certain words in Chinese until he was very elderly. Laura’s Husband, Ponce, proudly served in the United States Air Force. During Ponce’s time in the Air Force, he was honored with a privilege only a select few receive as he was part of an elite competition team. Ponce and his team members traveled extensively in the United States. Ponce was later stationed in the Country of Panama, in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Just Cause. During Ponce’s service, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and several other awards.
Laura is proud of her heritage. As an Associate National Director of America’s Miss Agribusiness, she salutes those who have served in the United States Military and those who make America the greatest Country in the world through Agribusiness. Our next generation of leaders begin with our Queens and their passion for growing America’s Future through Agribusiness. Laura looks forward to working with all of America’s Miss Agribusiness Queens in the years to come.