De Vries’ agricultural journey

Aleasha Hintz—Staff Writer 

Within the agriculture department, Holly De Vries is a familiar face. She now stands to become even more of one as Dordt University recently hired her to work full time as a professor. Throughout her life, De Vries has been focused toward one particular calling: working the earth. It’s taken many forms along the way. 

From the very beginning, De Vries was nudged towards a vocation in agriculture. She grew up on a small dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada where she learned the ins and outs of the business. Dairy farming is incredibly involved, and sticks to a consistent schedule. 

“When you grow up on a dairy it gets in your blood,” De Vries said. 

Thus began her deep-seated calling to work the earth. It was on her family farm that De Vries learned to love the outdoors. 

She also found interest in science—specifically, in medicine. By putting these two passions together, De Vries found the second form her calling would take and decided to become a large animal veterinarian by her junior year of high school. That was that. 

She knew exactly what she wanted from a young age: what she wanted to do for work, and who she wanted to marry (not a dairy farmer). So she planned for her life, she pursued her plan, and she got it… sort of.  

 De Vries graduated from Dordt College with an animal science degree in 2000, interned as an assistant herdsman at the old Dordt Dairy, and went on to veterinary schools at Iowa State right after. In 2005, Central Vet Clinic officially hired her on as a large animal veterinarian where she worked for 13 years. 

De Vries was living her dream, but God had more in store for her. On the tail end of her veterinarian career the one thing De Vries knew she did not want to do, happened. She got married to a dairy farmer. Though it wasn’t what she planned, she was happy. A few years later she had her eldest daughter, followed by another, and she quit working as a vet to stay at home with her children. 

“I had to wrestle with this career change calling a bit,” De Vries said, “because, you know, when God calls you to something different, I really feel like you have to, in some ways, shut the door on one dream in order to say yes to another one.” 

In 2018 she decided to begin working again, and picked up an adjunct position at Dordt University. She taught a chemistry class part time, and learned to love teaching as well. Two more years went by and another path opened up. 

This past summer, a full time position became available in the agriculture department at Dordt. De Vries, though slightly hesitant, felt a nudge to pursue work full time at the university. Though teaching was always an alternative in the back of her mind, De Vries did not expect to transition so soon. God had taken over the direction of her calling. 

“I kind of tiptoed into it rather than jumped in,” De Vries said. 

By starting in an adjunct position, De Vries found the change less jarring than if she were to come right from a veterinary job. Her experience as an adjunct prepared her for working full time, but the change still brought a few pleasant surprises. 

“Being able to take what I have done in veterinary medicine and apply that in the classroom to a lot of things that we’re teaching has been, for me, come full circle,” said De Vries. 

De Vries did not expect to enjoy the student factor as much as she does, and she is finding she is able to do much more than just relay information.  

“I’m always learning right along with my students,” said De Vries. 

Agriculture is an ever-changing field, and De Vries is relearning the theories she forgot while practicing, as well as learning from her students’ various agriculture experiences. 

So far, De Vries has served God through multiple avenues. She served as a child on her family’s dairy, through her academic pursuits, her internship on the Dordt dairy, her career as a veterinarian, and her teaching at Dordt.  

She also serves through her role as a wife and mother, and helps on her husband with their trucking business, replacement heifers, and organic farm. She is truly a Jill of all trades and a master of agriculture, but her first priority has always been to serve God. 

“I don’t think it really matters what you’re doing as long as you’re serving Him,” De Vries said. “That’s your calling, is to serve Him.” 

De Vries, as well as the rest of the agriculture department, presses the importance of serving God through agriculture. She truly has a wealth of agricultural knowledge and plans to serve God here at Dordt for many years to come. 

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