Mar 25, 2014

Agriculture and Farming: My Story

I've always been connected to agriculture in one way shape or another. It's something I took for granted as a mid-west kid growing up in the country outside a rural town. My mom even remembers me dashing out to the pasture as a toddler in my underwear trying to feed the cows grass. I'd ride my bike up and down the road along the corn and soybean fields. Tractors and combines would go by as my brother and I were playing out in the yard as we'd wave frantically. We'd take our toy tractors out to the sandbox and pretend to farm. I'd always grab a hand full of corn and a few eggs from the barn to put in a toy wagon, even though they weren't to scale. I'm sure I am not the only kid that did that.

My Parent's Farm
Growing up, my dad sold equipment at an ag dealership. I'd go in with him on Saturdays sometimes flipping through tractor brochures and chatting with old farmers as they came in to buy parts. I'd help my family bale hay in the summer. I remember food and a hot shower always being the best thing ever after stacking hay in the loft. 

It's a life I took for granted. It's a life that I had no clue would become my life as an adult. When I went off to college, I had every intention of becoming an interior designer and moving into a city somewhere. Once I was settled in at college, I found myself coming home every weekend. I found myself suffocated at school and I wanted to be with my friends and family back home. I didn't fit in with the girls in my interior design classes. I just went through the motions of school every week to get by. Early in college I was even dumped by a couple of boyfriends because they knew we would want different lifestyles down the road. They thought I needed to be with someone more like a farmer. I was confused but they knew me better than I knew myself at the time.



Hauling hay for dad with my first truck

Eventually by my Junior year at college, I started meeting other boys and girls on campus from small towns who grew up on a farm. They began inviting me to some of the agriculture events on campus. I finally started to feel at home at college. I finally learned who I was and what I wanted. I yearned to be an ag major. By that time, my senior year had begun and after several major changes in design and writing, I was still "stuck" in something I didn't want to be doing. I spent many late nights on my computer researching what it would take to become an Agriculture Communications major. It was just. too. late. It was going to take another 3 years of school. I was devastated. My parents and I both knew I was tired of school. So, I settled with a bachelors in General Studies emphasizing in design.

Working ground for a shorthanded friend, 2006
During the end of college and post graduation, I was spending a lot of time back home helping my guy friends farm. We'd all attend tractor pulls, farm shows and watch livestock events for fun. Often, I'd be driving the countryside with my dog in the bed of my pickup, just exploring my beautiful state. I was having the time of my life. I found myself more familiar with tractor makes and models than some of the guys! I once enjoyed these things as a kid but somewhere in the midst of Jr. High and High-school, sports and youth group, agriculture had slipped away from my life for a while. At the the time, our High-school programs were weak and the kids in 4-H never talked about it much at school. I am so happy to see my high-school's FFA program growing and more kids getting on board with promoting agriculture today.

Cubbie, my favorite dog doing what he loved
It took me a while to learn, but you don't have to be an ag major to be connected to agriculture. In fact, you don't have to live on a farm. You didn't have to grow up on a farm. You don't have to be married to a farmer. A passion for agriculture can be found deep inside anyone. If you have a passion for agriculture, you need to share it. It's not something to be hidden because we need you. We need advocates and lots of them. I'm still thankful for my background in design because I have now learned to use it as a tool in my agriculture advocacy. 

A passion for agriculture is more than just driving a tractor and sporting your favorite pair of boots. Having a passion for agriculture means learning, advocating and sharing what you love, live and breathe for. You'll know if you have the passion. You'll feel it. Sometimes I get emotional just thinking about being connected to something as amazing as agriculture. 

Photo Courtesy of Mike Deak, Deak Photography, 2010

Before I met my husband, I have made it a point to learn something new about agriculture everyday. Whether it's a fact, a new method, an article, a policy. Something. Now, he and I get to share what we've recently learned together. Agriculture is the main topic at our dining room table, kitchen island and even falling asleep at night. I am so thankful to have met a man who is just as passionate, if not a million times more, about agriculture as I am. We learn and grow in our agriculture journey together.

I challenge you to do the same. Never stop learning. Never stop supporting. Help us protect our rights and our food supply. Surround yourself with people who share your passion.

It's National Ag Day. What's your story?


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12 comments:

  1. Beautiful story :)
    Sometimes it's amazing what we think we want, and what we really need can be so different. I'm so glad you found your passion and place in the world.

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  2. Love this. Made me tear up a little bit. :) You've had a wonderful journey and it's only beginning.

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  3. What a wonderful journey! Thank you for sharing your story. I did not share mine on the blog today, but I did share the story of a young woman who is destined to do great things in the ag industry. Her story is just beginning, but it is filled with passion and love for this life.

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  4. What a nice story!
    Best to you!

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  5. I love this story :) especially because it sounds very similar to mine! I grew up in a rural community in Virginia, surrounded by expensive horses and some cattle. Even though I grew up driving small tractors and having tons of room to roam, my dad had ceased to farm long before we kids came along. I went to college thinking I wanted to be a Wildlife Management major but found my true home in Animal Science. And by the time I graduated and went off to Grad School I found myself dating (now engaged to) a farm boy who lives for crops and machinery. Our journey is really just beginning from here but it's crazy to imagine what road we might be headed down soon. Thanks for sharing your story!!

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  6. What a great story you have to tell Kelley! Thank you for sharing. I also have a similar story, especially through college, and I ended up right where I came from and right where I belong, right back on the farm!

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  7. Great story, and I'm glad that you were able to stay connected to your roots and stay passionate about agriculture. And you're absolutely right, there needs to be more advocates than just farmers.

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  8. Love this! Such a great story :)

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  9. This is a really beautiful story :) I started tearing up when you encouraged your readers to share their passion, whether they live on a farm, have an ag job, etc. I live and breath agriculture and my passion for farming is my driving force every day. I may not own a house/land/farm yet, but my passion is there and I share it :)

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  10. Love your story! I might just have to share mine now :) You make me wanna blog!

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  11. I enjoyed getting to know you a bit through this post. Thanks for visiting Kim's County Line, too! It's great to "meet" you.

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  12. LOVE this post and sharing it on my blog's FB page. I feel the same as you...I didn't grow up a farm kid, but I feel so passionately for and so connected to agriculture that it does bring tears to my eyes at times!

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