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.
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?