A personal ag story

January 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Saw a really great post from Jen at Purple Poke today and wanted to share with you!  Be sure to check out her blog to share your ag story!

Her post:

For one of my classes, we were asked to write a “This I Believe” statement about agriculture. A “This I Believe” statement is essentially a testimonial – a declaration of something you truly believe in. In the case of this assignment, it also needed to be focused on my involvement in agriculture. I faced serious writers block as I tried to get started on this assignment. I was frustrated because I couldn’t sum up everything I believed about ag in one simple statement. But when I stopped over-thinking things and just let my thoughts flow, the result was a personal testament to my love for and involvement in agriculture. I know it’s long, but I promise it’s worth it. Here’s a story about what I believe…

I believe that everyone’s story in agriculture is unique…

I have not always considered myself an “ag girl.” I did not grow up an a farm, however I did grow up in a predominantly agriculturally-based community, raising livestock for 4-H projects and riding the horse my brother and I shared whenever I had the chance. I wore dirty boots and wrangler jeans, had a barn behind my house, and even enjoyed feeding bucket-calves in the spring getting ready for the county fair. My whole life I was surrounded by all things ag – but it took a trip overseas to really spark my interest in what I now consider my life’s passion.

At the tender age of 20, I was living in Australia, studying photography and soaking up the joys of being a young adult. Although I was embracing everything life had to offer, I had yet to discover my true purpose in life. Through a series of events, which I believe were crafted by God’s all-knowing hand, I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines to work with a non-profit organization. I went to change lives, and in the process my life was changed as well.

I spent most of my time in the Philippines at an orphanage on the Southern island of Mindanao. I lived and worked with the children and staff and got a taste of what it was like to live without the basic luxuries of life (things like a running shower, air conditioning, and a washing machine). On the weekends, I would travel to off-site projects, overseeing feeding programs, school development initiatives for children, and various other livelihood projects led by the organization. What really began to capture my interest during the weeks and months I lived in the Philippines was their rudimentary agricultural system. They still used oxen to plow the dirt, getting it prepped for planting. Crops were planted and harvested by hand, and scattered on the ground to dry in the sun. There were no fancy tractors, no GPS guidance systems, and certainly no big steel grain bins to store the surplus crop. Also, animals were raised and slaughtered on an as-needed basis. At the orphanage, when the cottages started to run low on meat, then men would head out back and butcher the next hog that would serve as the main source of protein in the children’s diet, a much needed nutritional supplement to the staple of rice and vegetables.

This system of agriculture was remarkable to me. I took a wholehearted interest in the ag system, and became acutely aware of its importance in this poverty-stricken country. I remember the day I called home and said, “Dad, I want to study international ag business.” I’m certain I heard him fall off his chair in disbelief. But when I got back to that States, that is exactly what I did.

From my first day of class in the College of Agriculture at K-State, I was hooked on ag. I soaked up everything I learned, which just gave me a passion to learn more. Ag economics, agricultural trade, and animal science – you name it, I loved it!

Today, as I work toward my Master’s degree in agricultural communications at Oklahoma State, I realize more than ever the impact that ag has on each and every person. I also realize the tremendous challenges that face the ag industry with an escalating population, decreasing availability of land, and a mounting number of critics regarding the current agricultural production system. I have also come to the realization that ag is not perfect. I view it as a personal responsibility not only to communicate the importance of agriculture to the world, but also to be a leader in the necessary changes facing the industry as we move forward.

My story of how agriculture became an integral part of my life is unique, as is yours. Every life is touched in some way by agriculture, but each person’s story is different. This, I believe.

~Jen

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