Agriculture… “It has led me here to this”

These past few weeks, I have had several moments where I have thought about how I have gotten to the point I am at today. How has my decisions affected the person I am, the person I want to be and the person I will be in the future? How exactly have I ended up where I am? Besides the fact that God has blessed me beyond measure and the support I have received from my family, I can only think of one other answer to this question. The answer is agriculture.

To back this story up some, I should begin by discussing my upbringing and background. I grew up on a dairy farm. I was put on a horse (and even Brown Swiss cows) before I could walk, I started helping in the milk barn before I even started kindergarten and can remember getting into some trouble doing things that typical farm kids do. So yes, agriculture has been with me from day one. I was always active in 4-H and FFA by showing cows and horses and participating in contests. However, looking back to my senior year in high school, pursuing a career in agriculture did not even cross my mind.

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Many people can’t believe this because they’ve always known me to be the ag kid of my class and even of all my sisters. I actually thought I wanted to become a physical therapist (all I saw were dollar signs) and eventually work at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. In my head this sounded like the perfect plan, but when it came right down to it, my heart was leading me in a completely opposite direction. When I attended freshman orientation at Missouri State University, the realization hit that physical therapy was not my fit. I had a small meltdown when I got home from the first day of orientation because I felt like my future was blurred. What was I going to do with my life? How would I figure out what I wanted to do? Luckily, my dad agreed to go to the second day of orientation with me so I would not have a complete anxiety attack. I am so glad he did!!! He was the one who took me to see the head of the William H. Darr School of Agriculture which ended up being one of the most influential days of my life.

Within 30 seconds of being in the school of agriculture, I knew I had found my “home.” There was no doubt that agriculture was my future and that it was where I belonged. The four years I spent working on my undergraduate degree were some of the most memorable times of my life. I surpassed the expectations I had of myself—I went from a shy, unconfident girl to a woman who has utmost belief in herself to make a difference in this crazy world we live in and to keep agriculture a strong industry. Everything I learned from growing up on a farm- including hard work ethic, determination, teamwork and leadership- pushed me to be a strong student and leader. I also overcame the fear of stepping up out of my comfort zone and experiencing as much as possible. Internships, joining the Missouri State Equestrian Team, becoming an officer in student organizations on campus and becoming more involved in my community were just a few that happened because of this. I quickly learned that hard work and taking risks really does pay off, and also that I should always have faith. When I reflect on my entire undergraduate experience, it does not seem real. (I also do not know how I was able to do so many things in four short years!) These years developed me into the person I am today and have made me fully understand how important it is to stand up, protect and fight for our agriculture industry.

As many know, I am now in graduate school at Missouri State working on my master’s degree in agricultural communications. Has it been stressful? Most definitely, but I know it is going to be well worth it. I feel like I am just being primed to be an influential “agvocate” and promoter of the agricultural industry. Whether it be public relaitons, promotion, marketing, writing, broadcasting or whatever else, I believe that I will be well prepared for whatever my future career has in store. I do know that I want to do whatever I can to help our farmers because it is them who keeps us all alive. I want to do my part in educating the public about where their foods comes from so that they will not be influenced by extreme animal/environmental activists and so that they will learn to have a greater respect for farmers/ranchers. I also want to do my part in ensuring that future generations will not go hungry. And above all, I want to do all I can to keep agriculture thriving in the United States.

So when asked how or what has been a major impact of my life, I can safely say this. God, my family and agriculture has! My journey has been a pretty crazy one; however I feel so humbled and blessed. I am so fortunate to have be part of a great agriculture school and also to have a strong agriculture background.

Next time you find yourself pondering about how you have gotten where you are in your life, tell us about it. Share your story!

As I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to say this-

The world of agriculture has led me here to this!

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“So God Made a Farmer…”

481501_10200455320567593_712146636_nThis is a post dedicated to everyone out there who is a farmer. You do not get the credit you deserve. Before I begin this post, I want to say thank you!

I know I have not posted a blog in a very long time. Why the sudden urge to begin blogging again? As crazy as it sounds, a commercial inspired me to do so. For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you probably already know what commercial I am referring to.

Last night, a large portion of my mom’s side of the family decided to get together to watch the Super Bowl. I personally am not a huge fan of football; however I am always wanting to see good commercials, as well as spend time with my family. We were watching the game, talking about what commercials we were looking forward to seeing (the Clydesdale one was at the top of most of our lists), talking, eating unhealthy snack foods and just having a good time. Then the house went silent…

A commercial began to play and the name Paul Harvey appeared on the screen. An agriculturelike scene began to unfold which quickly grabbed all of our attention. The talking stopped, the kids stopped playing and all eyes were glued to the screen. These were the words that were shared on the commercial:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk… cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the township board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to cradle his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse, who can fix a harness with hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, up in another 72 hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to help a newborn calf begin to suckle and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower in an instant to avoid the nest of meadowlarks.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, brake, disk, plow, plant, strain the milk, replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with an eight mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his family says that they are proud of what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”See More

As these words were spoken, scenes of different agricultural/farming sectors flashed on the screen. Fields being plowed, farmers of all generations, horses, farming equipment, just to name a few. Of course, a really, really nice Dodge truck appeared at the end of the commercial to support the commercials founder Dodge Ram. After the commercial was over, I took a second to look around the room. Everyone sitting there had some sort of farming background. All of us were involved in the dairy industry in some way; most of everyone there is current dairy farmers. They all had the same reaction I did – a feeling of pride, reassurance, thankfulness and awe that the American farmer finally got some recognition on national television during one of the biggest TV events of the year. It was a very emotional moment, and I want to give a HUGE thank you to Dodge for airing such a great commercial.

This commercial got me to thinking….a lot. First of all, it is possible for our (farmers/agriculturists) voices to be heard. We can spread the word to the general public about agriculture’s importance and impact on our lives. We can show how hard farmers work and what they have to endure to provide food for people. It is a possibility and it is up to us to continue pushing forward to spread the word about agriculture.

Even though the commercial has created a lot of positive feedback from many, there are still some out there who view it as something completely different. I was researching reviews this morning and found people who had commented or posted on social media sites what they believe is meant by “so God made a farmer…” There were several references to tobacco chewers, factory farmers, tobacco farmers, hillbillies, etc. (You can find these reviews after searching the commercial on Google. Several sites come up that show them.) If that is what people truly think farmers are, then we need to work harder to change that image. Present these questions to those people:

  • Where does your food come from?
  • What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Do you know where that came from?
  • Who provides food to your grocery store?
  • How are you able to go to the store any time of the week and always have a large variety of food to choose from at a reasonable price?
  • Tell me what you know about agriculture. Do you truly believe that?
  • How would we survive if it wasn’t for our farmers?
  • How long will you survive if there were no farmers?

Once again, it just proves how uneducated the public is about what agriculture is all about. Obviously, we cannot survive without a strong agriculture industry. Our farmers are this nation’s backbone and always will be no matter who is leading this country, the technologies we have, etc.

After this commercial, I asked myself this question. How many people watched the commercial last night and did not understand it? There were probably several. Needless to say, Dodge’s “So God Made a Farmer” commercial has inspired me to make a difference. It has inspired me to keep pushing to educate the general public about American agriculture.

I apologize for the wordiness of this post. It has been so long since I have shared my thoughts, and the commercial from last night just got me thinking. I also want to make a special shout out to Budweiser for airing, in my opinion, one of their best Clydesdale commercials. The Doritos’ goat was good too. What were your favorites?

In conclusion, I hope that “So God Made a Farmer” has inspired you to agvocate even more. I hope it has inspired you to learn more about agriculture and comprehend its importance. Most of all, I hope it has instilled an utmost respect for our American farmers. They do not get the credit they so deserve for their hard work and dedication to providing safe and quality food on all of our tables. They endure every hardship – intense weather, working 24/7, working straight through holidays, sickness, the list goes on and on. Farmers deserve so much more than what most Americans give them credit for. Without them, we would not survive. Without them, we would have nothing. That is why, “God made a farmer.”

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Until next time, be sure to thank a farmer. If you are a farmer, then I want to say a special THANK YOU!!!!

Let’s all strive to make 2013 the year of the farmer!!!!

Alison

What Do the Neighbors Think?

So, this week has been a very eventful week adding to the never-ending story of my “AG”ventures. While I was driving home last night thinking about this past week’s events, a sudden thought hit me. “I wonder what my neighbors think of some of the things we do on our farm?” All of the events that I am getting ready to tell you about occurred where my neighbors could easily see me. You see, a few years ago when we sold all of our dairy cows, we sold some land to a developer. Now, land that our Brown Swiss and Holstein cattle grazed on and our green tractors mowed is now providing people with homes. (That’s a fancy way of saying it is now a subdivision.) Even though we don’t milk anymore, we still have a few cows left and have horses. Technically we are not an actual full-functioning farm, but our neighbors tend to think otherwise. So, this leads me to my original question. “I wonder what my neighbors think?” As I get ready to write this, I just want to let you know that it is okay to laugh. I really won’t be offended. 😛

I had to do an equine demonstration for a local 4-H club, so my mom (who’s birthday is today…Happy Birthday!)  and I loaded up our horses and headed to the saddle club. We’ve got an old Brown Swiss cow that we could not sell last year because of her bad legs. She was due to calve that day and appeared she could pop at any time, but showed no signs of calving before we left. We were only gone 3 hours and guess what?  As my mom was parking our trailer and unloading horses, I went to check on her and seen her behind the barn (which is in plain sight of every single one of our neighbors) obviously in labor.

"Kokomo" is now doing great!

From a distance, I couldn’t tell if everything was normal. Like luck always runs, the calf was coming backwards which is a major, major uh-oh. My mom went and grabbed two baling strings and tied it to the calf’s legs. (The cow had gotten up at this point so you can only imagine what the scene looked like.) We began to pull, my mom pulling the strings and I had a hold of the calf’s legs. We were able to deliver the calf, and it was barely alive. We sprang into action. I was on my hands and knees by the calf’s face trying to clear the fluids out of her nose and mouth. My mom was doing whatever she could to help the calf breathe. It was apparent that we would need to lift the calf from its back legs to let gravity pull the fluids from her mouth, nose and lungs. Mind you, this calf is pretty good size. I’m 6′ foot and pretty stout (and somewhat injured from getting bucked off a horse earlier that week. Different story for another time) My mom is only about 5’7″ but for those of you who know her, she is a strong lady! We were able to lift the calf from her back legs to allow fluid to drain. She than began breathing normally, and we knew she was going to be all right. My mom and I at this point were completely tuckered out. Not only did we pull the calf by ourselves, we also were able to hold her in the air from her back legs. Yeah, you can call us awesome. (I just viewed it as good mother-daughter bonding time!)

It took me a few days to realize that some of our neighbors may have seen that entire event unfold. Two women pulling a calf, shoving their hands in its mouth, sticking their fingers in its nose, hanging it from its hind legs. Are they crazy?!?! I could only imagine what the scene would look like to those who are unfamiliar with delivering calves. This was definitely an extreme calving case; however that still doesn’t mask the fact that our neighbors still could have saw it. Lucky for us, the sheriff wasn’t called or PETA wasn’t notified. Hopefully our neighbors understood that we were only doing the best for the cow and calf.

On a more serious note, the morale of this story is this. A lot of times, people see us farmers do things that they think are absolutely cruel and inhumane. It is up to us to educate them about why we do the things we do. You never know who is watching. It all boils down to this main fact. It is up to us farmers to educate the public about agriuclture and farming!

In case you were wondering, the calf, now named “Kokomo” and her momma are doing great. They are alive because we helped them. We cared, just like farmers do.

“I’ve Never Been to a Farm Before”

 

You never know when you are going to be presented with the opportunity to allow someone to interact with animals for the first time. This opportunity found me this past weekend, which has led me to write this post. Friday morning, I get a phone call from my oldest sister who was babysitting for one of her friends. She was babysitting a 6-year old boy named Landon who has not had much experience with farm animals. My immediate response was, “Well bring him on over!”

Landon was really wanting to ride a horse. He had only been on a horse a few other times when he was younger, and had never had the opportunity to ride by himself. He was so excited when we told him that he could ride one of our horses…all by himself. Since this was such a big deal for this little boy, I let him do everything. He went into our tack room and chose a halter (he chose the green one because it was his favorite color). He then walked into the pasture with me to catch “his horse.” He was going to ride Hollywood, our 20-year old Paint gelding that my family holds very dear to our hearts. I would trust this horse with any

body, which made him the perfect mount for Landon.

I went back to the barn and got Hollywood all saddled up. During this time, Landon was asking me several questions about horses and the tack. He was so excited to ride a horse that he could barely stand it. I took him to our arena and got him on ole’ Hollywood. The look on that boy’s face was absolutely priceless. He rode for about 20 minutes, smiling and laughing the whole time. This would be something he would never forget…

Landon and Hollywood

After Landon had left, I got to thinking about kids and people who never had the opportunity to ride a horse, touch a cow or even step foot onto a farm. This led me to think about how important it is for us (agvocates, farm owners, livestock owners, etc.) to educate those who are not familiar with “farm life.” Allow them to pet/touch our animals. Allow them to ask questions. This is the most efficient way of spreading the word about agriculture, so don’t waste opportunities to do so! If you are exhibiting animals at a show or parade, allow people to interact with them and you! It is up to us to educate them about agriculture, livestock and farming in general.

If you are like me, you often forget how many are out there who are so uneducated when it comes to agriculture and our animals. It makes me be even more thankful to be a farmer’s daughter and an agvocate!!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and allow people like Landon interact with animals on your farm!

Until next time…

Journey to Delaware

While many spent their spring breaks at the beach or with their families, I spent mine in the tiny state of Delaware. (The nations first official state!) You are probably thinking two things right now. 1) What in the world were you doing there? and 2) What is there to do in that state?

I made the trip to Harrington, Delaware (home of the Delaware State Fairgrounds) to show horses in the IHSA Western Semi-Finals, I had qualified for this event by being the Reserve Regional Champion a few weekends ago. Granted, there was not much to do in the small town of Harrington; however this trip was one I will never forget. I have highlighted my experiences and have put them in a list below. Enjoy!!!!

  • I got to fly on an airplane for the 3rd time in my entire life. We flew out of St. Louis into Philadelphia the first trip. On the trip back home, we flew from Philadelphia, Cincinnati then to St. Louis. It was amazing because a trip that would have taken 16 hours driving only took 2 hours in an airplane. Thank goodness for that!
  • It was amazing to see how many people did not know what a hat can was. I got so many strange looks from people as I carried it through security and on the plan. Once I explained it to them, you would have thought it was the coolest thing they had ever saw.
  • I got to experience firsthand the craziness of Philadelphia drivers. We had to ride in a bus from the airport to the car rental place. The driver’s name was Al and he told us that he was “an express driver.” He wasn’t kidding. That man was flat-out CRAZY!!! We made it there in one piece…suprisingly.
  • The state of Delaware is tiny; however a very interesting state. It has a lot of agriculture, which I thought was very interesting. There were several acres of flat cropland, along with several wooded areas. Even though there was a lot of crops, I did not see a single cow. There were several horses, however.
  • Harrington, Delaware is home of the Delaware State Fairgrounds, where the horse show was held. It is also home of Chick’s Saddlery, which is a famous discount tack store. There were few restaurants and hotels; however it did have a very large casino, which appeared to be the town’s hotspot.
  • We were only an hour away from the ocean. Since I had never been to the ocean before, we spent all of Friday morning at the Rehoboth Beach. Seeing the ocean for the first time was a feeling I will never forget! Even though the Atlantic was freezing cold, I still had to put my feet in the water to say I had been in an ocean. It was definitely worth it.
  • Saturday and Sunday were spent showing horses. I had made it out of the preliminary round on Saturday, which allowed me to show in the final round on Sunday. The final round did not go as I would have liked. I ended up placing 7th out of 16. (I needed 4th to make it to nationals.) Even though I would have liked to have made it to nationals, I still felt very accomplished for even placing. The competition was really tough!

As you can see, I had a very eventful Spring Break. Delaware ended up being quite an interesting little state. It was a very fun experience being able to participate in the 2012 IHSA Semi-Final competition. If it was not for this horse show, I would not have been able to visit a beach or visit Delaware itself. It is crazy to think that myAGventures have made it to this state; however I am so grateful that it did.

What did you do over Spring Break? Hopefully you have a story to tell, along with memories that will last a lifetime!!

10 Things to Know About Blogging

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Last week, Judi Graff from the Springfield, Illinois area, came to visit the Missouri State Public Relations in Agriculture course to discuss the essence of blogging. I learned so much and am truly grateful that I had the opportunity to hear what she had to say about blogs. She gave us very beneficial information about how we can make our blogs better, and how blogs can be used to tell our stories. I especially appreciated her looking over my blog and giving me advice about what I can do to make it even better. Thank you Judi!

During her presentation, Mrs. Graff discussed several key elements in developing and maintaining a good blog page. Items such as the blog title, the page layout, colors and photos all play a huge part in how successful a blog is. I am going to list ten points that Judi Graf made about blogging that you may have not considered. This list is of things I learned, and I hope it is beneficial to you as well.

Top 10 List About Blogging-

  1. Blog Design: I learned that it is very important to maintain a blog page that is designed effectively. Judy Graff gave the class a simple phrase to remember. Simple, Obvious, Repeat. The page must be kept simple, yet obvious so that it will not distract readers. Posts and other valuable information must be easy to find; therefore it is important to keep it simple and obvious.
  2. You have approximately 7 seconds to catch  readers’ attention. Your page must be attractive and informative to really catch readers attention. This means having a catchy title and tag line, as well as having a page that readers want to investigate. The page must be eye-catching in order to grab readers’ attention.
  3. Have a contact page. It is important to have a page that readers can access your contact information. This page should include your e-mail address and other ways readers can directly contact you.
  4. The importance of a tag line. A tag line is a phrase that is usually located underneath a blog’s title. It gives readers a quick glimpse of what the page is about. It also can give readers a general idea of what kind of blogger you are, which is very important.
  5. Know and understand your target audience. As an effective blogger, you must know exactly who your target audience is. You must ask yourself this question- Who am I wanting to reach? This will determine the type of posts you publish and the type of page you maintain.
  6. Purpose. You must also ask yourself, what is the purpose of this blog website? You must understand why you are creating a blog, and what you want to accomplish with it. Whether it be for business purposes or personal purposes, you must be sure of what you want to achieve with your blog.
  7. The importance of “about” areas. Having a page or other area explaining who you are and why you are blogging is very important. Readers want to know more about you the author and why you are inspired to publish blogs and maintain your website. It also gives readers an opportunity to get to know you better. Judi explained that about pages are the second most viewed pages.
  8. Fast load time. It is very important to make sure your page loads quickly. If you have several large pictures, videos and other graphics, it may take a while for your page to load. If it loads slowly, readers may not want to wait for the information to appear.
  9. Utilize open space. The use of all available space is key, especially above the fold. (Above the fold means the content you see whenever you first visit a page without scrolling.) Saying this, you want as much valuable information to be in sight so that readers will not have to be inclined to visit all aspects of your page. It also makes it easier for them to find what they may be looking for.
  10. Post Titles. Post titles are very important. We learned that titles are what attracts readers to our post. They also give readers an indication of what posts are going to be about. These titles are also what allows our posts to show up in search engines.

These are just the top ten things that I have learned from Judi Graff’s visit to our class. There were several other items that I learned about that I will be more than willing to share with you. I encourage you to use what I have listed and apply it to your blog. Always look for ways to make your blog better. Change your layout, add more pages, provide contact information, and the list goes on. You can make your blog great if you put forth the effort to do so.

Thank you Judi Graff for everything you did for our Public Relations in Agriculture Class at Missouri State University. Your knowledge of blogs is  incredible, and I hope to one day be an exceptional blogger like you!

I encourage you to check out Judi’s blog, as well as follow her on Twitter @farmnwife.

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Living the Life

Being that my birthday is tomorrow, I decided to sit down and think about my life for a while. I think about everything I have and think to myself, “Wow, I am one lucky woman.” Even though I tend to take many things for granted, I cannot help but realize how blessed I truly am. No, I am no rich movie star who has everything; however in my own world, I’ve got more than what I feel like I deserve.

God has been so good to me in so many ways. I have an amazing family, great friends, a roof over my head, a car that gets me where I need to go, food on the table, clothes on my back, horses and dogs that put a smile on my face, and an agriculture foundation that has truly made me into the person I am today. Sure, I do not drive a fancy vehicle nor live in a mansion, but the way I see it now, I really am living the life.

My viewpoint on life has definitely changed over the years. When I was little, I remember being the green-eyed, blonde haired girl who wanted nothing but to have fields full of paint horses and Brown Swiss cows. In elementary, all I wanted was to play basketball all the time so I could be the next Jackie Stiles. When I was a teenager, all I wanted was a cool car, sweet kicks and anything else that would put me in the “popular crowd.” In my early college years, I wanted nothing but to have the physical looks that will make me be the cool college kid who rides a flashy horse…

As you can see, I used to be one of those who wanted everything. Never once in that previous paragraph to you see me having the mentality of being satisfied with what I already had. Over the years, I have always had the things I mentioned earlier in this post. However, it has taken me almost 22 years to realize what really is important in life. Those things I have (and still take for granted) are the things I should be most thankful for.

Today, I drive a car that is ten years old and has over 105,000 miles. I still live in an old farmhouse with my family. I ride a plain, sorrel quarter horse that is not necessarily going to get me noticed in a crowd. I do not have a perfect body and could stand to lose a few pounds. I wear clothes that I have been wearing for the past five years. My life now is relatively simple, and to some of you may seem boring. However, for me, I would not have it any other way. I know it is not perfect by any means, but I also know it is what makes me who I am.

I am so very thankful for all these things in my life. The only thing I want now is for others to realize what it has taken me so long to. Be thankful for the things in life that you already have. Don’t spend your life wanting things because you will find that your wants will overcome you and transform you into someone you truly are not.

In closing, I just have to say that I feel like I truly am living the life. I am honestly very happy with my life right now, and I would not change it for anything!

Equestrian Team. What?

Since my blog is dedicated to my “AGventures,” I decided to dedicate this post to something that makes up a large portion of my college life. That something is showing horses in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) with the Missouri State Equestrian Team. Many people have never heard of this, so I thought it would be helpful if I wrote more about it. I want to share my experiences to not only tell my story, but to encourage you to look more into this activity.

My journey with the equestrian team began my freshman year of college. I did not even know it existed until one of my friends told me about it my first week on campus. Eager to learn more, I drove to Missouri State’s Pinegar Arena to see what this equestrian team was all about. As soon as I walked into the arena, I was hooked. I joined that day, and have never looked back.

The equestrian team competes in stock horse (western) and hunt seat (english) shows. Shows are sanctioned by the IHSA and competitions are held throughout the fall and spring semester. I decided to compete in the western shows, since that is what I had done my entire life. Practices are held four days a week, and members are expected to come to at least two. Shows are held at universities across the region. Students do NOT have to have their own horse, and travel expenses are mostly paid for. Riders are placed in divisions based on their horse showing experience. At shows, horses are provided by the university where they are hosted. The horses are placed in the division, and are chosen by drawing numbers from a hat. Riders are given no chance to warm up and are judged based on horsemanship. This allows for a very unique and challenging experience. Riders are awarded points based on their placings. They then are given the opportunity to compete in post-season shows if they meet the point requirements, where they can work to make it to the national competition.

This is a very brief overview of what the IHSA offers, and how the Missouri State Equestrian Team works. I could write several posts about this topic; however I will save that for a later date. As you can see, this is an activity that I am very fond of. I have devoted hours of time over the past few years in order to be successful and to become a better horseman. By being on the Missouri State Equestrian Team, I have developed more as a person and have become a much better rider. I encourage you to look more into this program if you enjoy horseback riding. You will learn so much and be given opportunities to show horses of all kinds at several different places across the country. It has added so many “AGventures” in my life that I will never forget!

www.ihsainc.com

http://missouristate.collegiatelink.net/organization/horsemans-association/

Agriculture is Everywhere!

This past week, I have done a lot of traveling in Missouri and Illinois. Some of the car rides were long; however they gave me the opportunity to really pay attention to what I was going by. Of course, I passed cities, buildings, homes and businesses; however the amount of land that I passed that was being used for agriculture purposes was astonishing. From beef cattle operations, to chicken houses, forests filled with wildlife, dairy farms, and fields of crops, I passed it all. It just reminded me that it did not matter where I was going or what state I was in, agriculture was everywhere.

While making the drive from Springfield to central Missouri, there was a lot of rural land. For miles and miles all I could see was pastures and woodlands. There were an abundance of beef cattle that were grazing on the rolling Missouri pastures. I passed acres of woodlands that you know were full of all sorts of wildlife. There were veterinary clinics, stockyards, banks, farm credit services buildings, tractor dealerships, restaurants and everything else in between that all had one thing in common. They were directly influenced by the agriculture industry.

During the weekend, I traveled to Kewanee, Illinois (which is located in the north central part of the state) for a collegiate horse show with the Missouri State Equestrian Team. It was amazing to once again see all the agriculture that was passed on that 8-hour trip. In Illinois, there were acres upon acres of land that were used for crops. Corn stalks covered many of the fields which provided protection from soil loss. Cattle operations were scattered along the way, as well as a few hog farms. Several farmsteads dotted the horizons which was a surreal sight. It really made me think about how agriculture impacts everyone in all areas, whether it be a small town in southwest Missouri or a town in Northern Illinois.

All of this traveling was tiring; however it was a very insightful experience. Everywhere I went, I noticed something that was agriculture related. This led to me thinking about agriculture in general, and where we would all be without it. So, next time you are on the road, I encourage you to take the opportunity and analyze your surroundings. If you are like me, you will be truly amazed by how much agriculture you see. Not only will it give you something to do, it will also make you realize even more just how important and beautiful agriculture is.

The World From the Back of a Horse

When I have four days off from school, it almost always means me spending as much time as possible riding my horses. This past weekend was no exception. With the fantastic February weather we have been having here in southwest Missouri, I could not help but spend time riding my Quarter Horse gelding around my family’s farm.

As I was riding across our fields, I could not help but take in everything around me. It was very peaceful which gave me the perfect opportunity to do some thinking. I could not help but think about how truly blessed and fortunate I was to be able to soak up the sun while riding a horse. From where I was riding, I could see my family’s farmstead, which made me think how lucky I was to have the opportunity to grow up on a dairy farm. At that particular moment, I made the realization that life is SO good.

It is truly amazing how riding a horse can give me an entire different perspective on life. For a while, I was away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the stress that school puts on me. All I was focused on was my horse and our surroundings. It gave me the chance to really appreciate farm and country life, as well as all the small things we all tend to take for granted.

To some, this post may seem cliche’. However for me, it serves as an eye-opener for a number of reasons. First of all, with all the stress I am under from school, I really need to spend more time riding my horse to get away from it. Secondly, it is truly a blessing to grow up in a rural environment. Not everyone gets to have moments like these, which is really a shame. Lastly, I truly am a lucky woman who is blessed beyond measure.

If you are having a stressful week or just need to get away from the world’s problems, I urge you to go saddle a good horse and just go for a ride. Let your mind wander, relax and leave your worries behind for a while. You will most likely see life in an entirely new perspective all while sitting on the back of a horse.

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