Successful YouTuber shows how he’s advancing his family’s legacy.
What happens when a sixth-generation farmer combines his family’s legacy with personal drive and a video game hobby?
For Andy Dole, that combination birthed aTrippyFarmer, his YouTube channel where he now has more than 40,000 subscribers. Dole shares his everyday life raising a few thousand acres of corn and soybeans on his family farm in southwest Illinois near Mattoon.
“Our farm was founded in 1847 and passed down to my dad and his brothers,” Dole says. “My mom’s father is in his 80s and continues farming nearby. I am tremendously proud of that legacy.”
Dole graduated from the University of Illinois in 2017 with a degree in crop science. After graduation, his father, Marty, and his uncles, Chris and Jeff, extended him an offer to join the farm full time. His sister Katie is also involved in the operation, and she and her husband are raising their three children on the farm.
“Returning to the farm was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Dole says. “I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with family and maintain the farm for the next generation.”
Dole and his wife, Ali, moved into the house that belonged to his paternal grandparents during the summer of 2023, allowing them to raise their sons, Lennon and Graham, on the farm.
Getting a Personal Gig
As the newest member of the farm, Dole was excited to contribute. He hoped to grow the farm’s acreage, but it’s rare to find an expansion opportunity in his area. So, he sought other ways to grow the family business.
“I enjoy the process of tweaking aspects of farm management and seeing how small adjustments impact the operation,” he says. “But it is frustrating that we only get one shot every year to try something, and the outcome depends heavily on the weather. I wanted to own something I could more fully control.”
He describes his personal hobbies as nontraditional for a farmer, yet they represent his generation. He enjoys playing video games and watching YouTube channels on topics like fitness and gaming.
“I hadn’t watched farm-focused YouTubers, and I would be the last person I would pick to do a YouTube channel,” Dole says. “But when I recognized my desire to do my own thing within the farm, I thought, ‘Why not me?’”
Like any farmer considering a new practice, he did his research and taught himself key skills. In this case, he learned to capture video on his phone, edit it and promote his work. He studied how other YouTubers named their channels, and then decided to take his own path.
“My gaming buddies noticed that I often said ‘trippy,’ and eventually my gamer tag became aTrippyFarmer,” he explains. “When it was time to name my YouTube channel, I went with who I have been for years.”
Dole launched his first YouTube video in February 2020. When COVID-19 shut the world down the following month, he had already established his channel. With a knack for capturing the search algorithm and a little bit of luck, he was able to capture between 10,000 and 15,000 views with one of his early videos.
“Since then, I have failed my way forward,” he says. “And, I have kept the commitment I made to my dad: Whatever I do, I will not slow us down.”
My goal is to maintain a consistent schedule of posting videos that generate conversations. My ability to share my perspective and talk farming with commenters reminds me to be grateful for what I do.
Highlighting Challenges and Solutions
Managing his YouTube channel parallels farming. Dole is focused on growing a solid crop each year with continuous improvement, and he approaches his videos with the same tenacity. He welcomes help from his family, especially his wife, who has become a video editor for the channel. Dole is proud of his ability to organically grow his audience over time.
His videos speak to farmers and anyone interested in the dynamics of Midwest row crop production. Yet, Dole noticed the general public is also watching his channel, and he’s developed a deep appreciation for the curiosity of people outside the farming community.
During the 2023 growing season, he covered a variety of topics about the good and the bad of farming:
Becoming aTrippyFarmer has also helped Dole stay grounded in his own work. He shares his point of view without comparing his family’s operation to other farms or imposing his will on fellow farmers.
“My goal is to maintain a consistent schedule of posting videos that generate conversations,” he says. “My ability to share my perspective and talk farming with commenters reminds me to be grateful for what I do.”