As I stare down the 31 days left in my undergraduate career, I have to sit back and reflect on the last four years, and the last 22 years that have led me to this moment. (I apologize in advance for the sappy reminiscing you are about to endure.)
I spent the first 7 years of my life being a “city kid” (if living in a town of 3,000 people could qualify as being a city-anything), splitting my time between riding bikes with the kids in the neighborhood and helping (or maybe just getting in the way of) my big brother with his pigs we kept at the sewage treatment plant farm my dad had rented for my brother to farm and raise his couple of pigs on.
Then we moved. All the way to the edge of town. My 7-year-old self was heartbroken to leave behind my friends in the neighborhood and the big mesquite tree I loved to climb in the back yard, for a house in the middle of a big field. There weren’t even any trees to climb! This is where my farm life began.
Fast forward a few years to high school. My high school years were my least and most favorite years of my life. I was by no means a “cool kid”. In fact I was the band nerd, the ag nerd, and the UIL nerd all rolled into one. But when your class has a total of 31 kids in it,everyone is a nerd of some kind because we all did everything. Those were the days. Thanks to an amazing UIL coach, I excelled in events like Current Events and Extemporaneous Speaking.
I also had a superb FFA chapter and two of the best ag science teachers in the state, so excelled in all things ag- and FFA-related too.
However, as I applied to colleges (ok, just Texas A&M. I knew where I wanted to go!), I may have been applying for majors in the ag college but I had no intention of doing anything related to ag. I seem to recall me saying things like “I want to do something BIG with my life! Not just something with FARMING!” I was going to be a journalist. Or professor. Or president. Or something like that. But it sure as heck wasn’t going to be anything ag-related. That just wasn’t BIG enough.
Then I get to college. I was involved in agriculture organizations, loved my ag communications classes (and learned ag business wasn’t for me, although I did manage to hang on to a minor in Ag Eco), but I still was determined. I was going to be a journalist. Or something.
The summer after my freshman year, I spent in my hometown working at the local newspaper. I had worked for the newspaper all through high school which had actually inspired my love of writing, the reason I was an Ag Comm and Journalism major, and the reason I wanted to be a journalist, but all of a sudden it just wasn’t as interesting. Actually, I was bored out of my mind. My sophmore year I was at a loss. I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore. Then: the good Lord set me up. I found an internship in Montana with the cattle raisers organization there that I wanted to apply for. So I went home and talked to a local rancher who had worked on some ranches in that area to see what he thought. I remember his words exactly: “That would probably be a good internship, but if you want to learn something, I have a lady you need to go work for.” A few months later, I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, working with the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. Job position: Intern, Fighter of Hippies, Protector of Agriculture. Never before had I even had a clue about the challenges that agriculture faced from environmentalists, the government, and the public in general. My eyes were opened, there was no going back.
My junior year at A&M, the good Lord set me up again (He has a way of doing that), and I was hired by the government relations office for AgriLife for an internship during the Texas Legislative Session. In my 6 months in Austin, I saw all the challenges faced by agriculturists in Texas. While not fighting the government for the right to farm your own land, like in New Mexico, Texan ag producers were facing a different problem. They were simply being overrun. With all the population being focused in urban areas, there were many, many more urban representatives and senators and fewer rural ones. While the urban reps didn’t go out of their way to hurt agriculture, it just wasn’t in their goals to help protect it. They had plenty to deal with to help their own urban districts. This really set me to thinking. If all those representatives were protecting their urban districts, how could the few rural districts let their voices be heard?
And now back to the present. 4 years ago, I wanted to have nothing to do with agriculture, I was ready to be done with school, and ready to move on with my life to do something big and grand. Now, I want to dedicate my life to telling the stories of agriculturists, and helping producers be heard in a state and country that is more urban than rural. And, after 2 months of applications, studying for the GRE, and franticly trying to change my post-graduation plans (You can read about how that all came about here) , I am now attending Oklahoma State University in the fall.
I’m very excited about the new chapter opening in my life, even if it does involve moving to Oklahoma for a few years, but I can’t help but wonder, with everything that has changed in the past 4 years, how much will life have changed in 4 years from now? I hope I can say that 4 years from now I am still involved in agriculture, and being the best agvocate I can be.
What do you think will change in your life over the next 4 years?