Northampton County farmer & veteran - Jethro Branch
Most people have a number of different roles in life. Murfreesboro’s Jethro Branch is an educator, veteran, farmer, businessman, family man, and faith-filled leader. The list could go on and on, but let’s focus in on a few of these roles.
Jethro spent nearly 20 years at Conway Middle School where he served a role as a life coach of sorts for students. He also worked in the prison system for 17 years. “My mission in the school was to guide young people to understand their choices had consequences. Those consequences could be positive or negative,” said Branch. “It was my job to be there when the students got off the path to help them understand things would work a lot better for them if they practiced better behavior. I would often use my experience in the prison system to try and bridge the information gaps to show young people their life didn’t have to go the route of ending up incarcerated.”
The Northampton County man is also a retired veteran after serving in the Army and with the National Guard. Mr. Branch retired as a captain and is quick to point out his love for his military service. “It meant so much to me to serve in our country’s armed forces. The camaraderie with the soldiers on what is truly America’s team is something I will never forget.”
These days you can find Mr. Branch growing wheat, cotton, corn, and soybeans on 200 acres in Northampton and Hertford Counties. “I remember purchasing my Massey Ferguson 3545 when I started farming and tending the first 22 acres I had of family land. Our farm has grown over the years but I still strive each day to give it an honest day’s work.” When asked about the biggest changes in farming over the years, there was little doubt about his answer. “Technology. Plain and simple. I’m work with precision agriculture equipment now. I can get real specific as far as row spacing, depth I’m planting my seeds, and the varieties of the different crops. The technology is mind blowing at times.”
While technology is ever-changing in and around the farm, you will always see Mr. Branch with his reliable spiral bound notepad in his shirt pocket. “I’ve kept a notepad for 20 years. Each one of them is kept there in my office, and I find myself referring back to notes made from years ago all the time. I keep a record of what I do each day from weather conditions to field notes and what needs to happen next to make sure the crops get what they need.”
When asked what the key to success has been Jethro responds in a matter of fact manner. “Listening,” he says. “Whether you are in education, the armed forces, or working a field, there are people who can help you get better. I’ve always tried to pay attention when folks share their insights with me and I want whoever I am working with to know that I am going to give them everything I have to try and help them be successful. That’s what I want my legacy to be.”
This northeastern North Carolina farmer has a wealth of life experiences to share and believes hard work and perseverance are the keys to success for anybody. He also make sure to note the blessings in his life and his mission to aim to be a blessing to others each and every day.
At AgCarolina Farm Credit, we couldn’t be more thankful for the leadership and life lessons people like Jethro Branch bring to the agriculture industry each and every day. It is through champions like him that our industry will continue to lead the way for NC now and into the future.