Meet Marji


September 7, 2016

RFD-TV’s new show, “FarmHer” premieres on Friday, September 9 at 9:30 PM ET. Before it was a show, FarmHer was an idea crafted by Marji Guyler-Alaniz of Urbandale, Iowa. Committed to change the image of agriculture, Marji is a gifted photographer and passionate story teller. And while she is more comfortable behind the lens, Marji has her own story to tell.

What inspired you to start FarmHer?

I had just left a career of over a decade in corporate agriculture and was getting ready to start some soul searching about what I wanted to do with my professional life, while taking more time to spend with my very young kids – 1 and 3 at the time. The weekend after the end of that corporate chapter of my life, I - along with millions of others, watched the RAM “God Made a Farmer” commercial during the 2013 Super Bowl. The commercial was beautifully done and I really was just in awe of the beauty it depicted when I first watched it. I read an article about a month later pointing out that there were very few women in it. That stuck with me – I had spent my career working in agriculture and had never thought about how women were (or rather, weren’t) portrayed. I woke up in the middle of the next night with the realization that instead of being frustrated, I have the ability to start changing the perception with my camera and decided to start showing the world that women farm, too.

How did your passion for photography begin?

My passion for photography began when I was just a kid. I had a few different little 110 film cameras that I would take pictures with all of the time. There was something magical to me about capturing a moment in time. I then went on to do some photography projects in 4-H and from there took a few classes in high school. Later on, I went on to Grand View University in Des Moines where I majored in graphic design and journalism, but really was there for the minor in photography – I would have majored in that if I could have! After college I started climbing that corporate ladder and really didn’t do much with my camera for years, until I started having kids and wanted to photograph and document their lives. Quite honestly, my photography has never looked so good or so real as it does with FarmHer and I think that is a direct result of really loving the subject matter.

Did you grow up in agriculture?

Not directly. My maternal grandparents were farmers. I would say my grandpa was more of the farmer and my grandma would have called herself the farmer’s wife or farm mom – both of which were true, but she had a role in keeping the farm running whether it was warming baby pigs, raising a big garden or keeping the books. My parents were not directly involved in agriculture – my dad was a pharmacist before starting his own business and my mother is an artist. Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I did grow up mostly in the country in Iowa. Growing up where I did, you are never too far from a farm field or pasture full of cattle. My real involvement with agriculture came through my 11-year career in corporate agriculture, prior to starting FarmHer.

What do you love most about FarmHer?

Hands down the thing I love most about FarmHer is the absolutely amazing women I meet. I love learning about them, visiting their farms or ranches and getting to be a small part of their day. I love learning why they do what they do, and I love seeing the beauty they bring to agriculture. Though each woman I meet is very different, they are all very much the same. Strong in their sense of pride about who they are and what they do, a love for the land or for the animals or both, a deep care about their community and a desire to feed people. Shining a light on women in agriculture and helping the rest of the world understand that women are an active and important part of agriculture is a complete blessing!

Do you have a favorite photo?

No! The funny thing is I have a new favorite photo almost every week, after I edit a new set of pictures. They all include a memory of when I was at that farm and met that woman, and seeing her image come to life through my camera makes me change favorites all of the time!

What excites you the most about growing FarmHer and expanding the imagery to now include television?

The thing that excites me the most about expanding FarmHer is that together with RFD-TV we can take the image of these women – images that really represent and stand for millions of women all over the world – and take them to the next level. By incorporating video, we can now really show these women at work, and shine a much bigger light on who they are, what they do, and the beauty that each of them brings to agriculture. I hope by sharing these with a larger audience that we can inspire women both within and outside of agriculture to go after their dreams, do what they want and find a way to succeed at it!

“FarmHer” premieres Friday, September 9th at 9:30 PM EST (encore Saturday 11 AM. and Sunday at 9:30 PM EST) and continues each Friday night through the fall season.