Agriculture February 01, 2023
Then and Now: Lynn Dargis
From Tragedy to Triumph
Brier, Piper, and Phoenix Schappert had quite enough of getting family pictures taken for The Furrow. They took off like a shot to go play on the tractor the moment their parents, Lynn Dargis and Ryan Schappert indicated they could go. It was a moment of sheer joy and a sign that life goes on even after the darkest tragedy.
Lynn Dargis's parents and grandmother were killed in a small airplane crash in 2007. "Continuing the Legacy," the story of how Lynn and her four sisters—Leona, Sarah, Suzanne and Jeanelle, aged 15 to 22 at the time—worked to keep the family farm at St. Vincent, Alberta, going after their loss, appeared in the March 2011 edition of The Furrow. By then the immediate crisis had passed and the sisters were moving on with their lives.
Jumping forward. Today Lynn and her husband Ryan Schappert operate the family farm. Leona and her husband Mack Watson have an outfitting business and a farm near Whitehorse, Yukon. Sarah is a veterinarian and practices in Bonnyville, Alberta. She's married to Dean Hanson, a medical doctor in the community. Jeanelle is a dietitian and farms with her husband, Nick Richard, in Flat Lake, Alberta. Suzanne has a wedding planning business in Edmonton, Alberta. She and her common-law husband, Mike Krywiak, are Lynn and Ryan's main helpers during the farm's busy seeding and harvest seasons.
"I think the biggest change since you were here in 2010 is that everyone's having babies," laughed Lynn. "We've got (pausing) 10 kids between us now, my sisters will kill me if I get this wrong."
Lynn never doubted that she would follow her father's footsteps and take over the family farm. She was determined to risk everything to keep it.
"Had farming been awful to me in those first five years, I probably wouldn't be where I am today," Lynn says. "So, in a sense it was good timing, but it was good management too. I lowered our risk by downsizing to what I knew I was capable of and then going from there. But there was a lot of risk on the line. I'm not going to lie; it could have gone totally different."
Having her husband Ryan in her life has been a huge help, Lynn says. He set aside his career in the oil industry and joined her on the farm full-time. She says they have a modern relationship. Each has their own area of expertise; Ryan oversees farm operations while Lynn handles all the farm's accounting and grain marketing.
She has also become an app developer. The frustrations she experienced trying to find the best prices for their crops led her to found Farmbucks in 2018. She describes it as an Expedia-type app where its 5000 subscribers can see and compare what price 70% of the grain companies are offering for Western Canadian crops on any given day. Between farming, family, and her new venture, she's a very busy woman.
"It's funny how things work out, and you manifest your thoughts into reality," Lynn says. "I always had in mind that I'd be married by age 25 and done having kids by 30, and lo and behold, that's what happened. It's just weird that I found Ryan at the right time and everything kind of turned out."
Being forced to take over the farm under tragic circumstances at a young age has meant that farm succession is always near the top of their minds whenever they're making land purchases or other major business decisions. The couple also makes sure their wills are kept current to ensure their children never have to go through the uncertainty that Lynn and her sisters did.
"At this point in our lives all of us have chosen the path we're going down and are doing well," Lynn says. "My sisters and I are only getting closer as we get older; they're my best friends. We're always watching out for each other and truly want the best for each other. I know our parents would have been very proud of that." ‡
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