It was through the I AM HERe project that I met Kimberlee and immediately felt close to her. Me, city slicker, her, educated farm girl. Yet we had far more in common than not. I sat with Kim at her home and we talked about what it was like for her to grow up in rural Nevada County as a woman.

 

Where did you grow up and how far back does your family go in Nevada County?

I was born in Anchorage Alaska, my dad was stationed there during Vietnam. I grew up in Nevada County from the time I was 7 and am the fourth generation to live in Nevada County dating back to the 1910-1920s.

Would you call yourself a Rural Woman?


Without a doubt! I grew up on a dirt road where we worked and played through the weekend. I had no idea what it was like to have an assigned parking space and shared walls until I went to Chico State.

What defines a rural woman in your opinion?

My roots run deep, but my wings have allowed me to become my unique self.

That we have bloomed where we were planted. We understand what we have, how to make it work for our lives and how to thrive. I think that there is a misconception that a rural woman is the one who stays home and cooks and cleans, for me, a rural woman is someone who can see where she comes from and develop into what she was meant to be without forgetting her roots. I am so much like the women in my life who came before me.

So tell me, what is a day in the life of Kimberlee like?


There is never a typical day, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My off hour’s job is taking care of my 10-acre ranch that was built out of love for family. This is something I am proud to own and make better to one day hand off to my daughter. Currently, we have a handful of farm animals that keep us busy and happy.

Initially, the ranch belonged to my Grandparents. Currently, we have a handful of farm animals that keep us busy and happy.

For 13 years I have taught Middle School and youth sports at Lyman Gilmore Middle School. It truly feeds my soul to work with this age group. Since I was a graduate of Lyman Gilmore myself, it’s fun to be able to bring it full circle and give back to the community that gave to me growing up. 

I am always challenged to be better for every student, I am a mom, sister, teacher, nurse….

What’s it like to have a daughter?


I am a mom to a beautiful soul, with a kind heart and a lot of my strength and sass. McKinlee! She is the light in every day and challenges me to think differently, love harder and be the best version I can be daily. She is a strong little lady, who wants to save the world one animal and one wrongdoing at a time. Being her mom is by far the greatest joy and honor I have ever been given. I look at her in awe every day!

Kimberlee

Would you say there are any barriers to being a woman in this rural county? 

This is a tough question. I was raised in this community, so there are many things that I accepted as it was just the way it was. I am part of the agriculture and 4H community in Nevada County, working outside and raising our food and animals.
 The barriers for me have come from the “community” I associated with and the old ways of thinking.

My grandparents believed women shouldn’t work or waste time playing sports. Instead, I should be at home helping on the “homestead”
.

This was not the opinion of my parents, but it was absolutely that of my grandparents. It was only when I moved away to college where I noticed that this wasn’t the same everywhere. Do those barriers still exist, no, not in the same way?

There are two very different cultures in this community. The Agriculture community, and a more modern culture where diverse views are accepted, where the arts and a broader view of crafts are encouraged, and new ways of dealing with the environment and the land.

In order for me to not feel the barriers of years past, I have to be open, accepting, and a part of both communities.

Thank you, Laura Peterson, for editing help
Photos by ARB

About the Author Ruth Chase

My work documents the human spirit and the powerful insights that allow people to find a sense of belonging within their community. The public plays a vital role in the outcome of my work, taking a journey with me that can last up to two years. I produce multi-media installations that include paintings, audio, social media, slideshows, video, and social engagement. Self-aware subjects with strong belief systems fascinate me and draw me in.