Growing Up on a Farm: 25 Facts About Being a Farm Kid!

This post is dedicated to all you past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be very many of us, but we truly are  one-of-a-kind. In all honesty, I don’t know of a better way to grow up. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we can tell stories all day long about our experiences both good and bad. Most importantly, yes we are proud to be farmers’ sons and farmers’ daughters. We are proud to be born and raised farm kids.  We are proud to be future farmers.

There is no doubt….WE REALLY ARE LUCKY!

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There have been several blog posts containing lists being shared on Facebook and Twitter right now. These lists, which deal with topics from growing up in a small town to reasons why you should date a teacher, inspired me to write about the farm kid life. For all you farm kids out there, you know we had a very special upbringing that many do not understand. With this in mind, I decided to come up with 25 truths that most farm kids could relate to in some way.

To me (and I think many will agree), being raised on a farm is a gift and something we should definitely treasure. We learn things that will be with us the rest of our lives. I could literally go on and on about how lucky farm kids really are. Whether you were raised on a farm or are just simply curious about the farm kid life, I hope you enjoy this list I have come up with. Don’t be afraid to smile, laugh and take a trip down memory lane! I know I did 🙂

20131122-121759.jpg25 Farm Kid Truths….here we go!

1. When you were first asked what you want to be when you grow up, you could not think of anything other than a farmer. Duh! 

2. Yeah, those Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls, Nintendo’s were all oh so cool. BUT nothing compared to your farm toys and figurines. Those John Deere tractors, plastic hay bales, plastic cows, horses, trucks, etc. They were your favorites that you played with ALL the time.

3. No Christmas list was complete without those farming toys. Ertl farm sets, more toy tractors, more farm animals…you needed to make your “farm” bigger.

4. No matter how hard your mom tried for you to have “good clothes” and “chore clothes,” and/or “good shoes” and “chore shoes,” everything you had turned into clothes you got dirty outside. Your excuse? “Sorry mom, I forgot…”

5. You learned some of the most random things…most of the time, the hard way. Examples?? You learned that if you got stuck in the mud while wearing your muck boots, you better just stay put and wait for help. You learned that your parents weren’t kidding when they said the fence was “hot.” You learned to avoid crawling through or over barbed wire fences. You learned that no matter how “cute” little mice looked or how tempting it was to pick one up to tease your sibling(s) with, those suckers would bite if you messed with them. You learned where not to hold a bottle when bottle feeding a baby calf. This list could go on and on. 20131122-121739.jpg

6. Here are some of the rules you were given when you went and played outside. Don’t go to the road, don’t go near the bull, if you open a gate then you better shut it, do not turn on/operate any piece of equipment, DON”T GO TOO FAR,, don’t hurt your brother/sister, blah blah blah. We all heard it.

7. You learned at a very young age that you needed to pray every day. Granted, yes we need to do that every single day. However, you prayed for things most kids would not even think about. You prayed for rain during a drought. You prayed for a good harvest. You prayed for sunshine when hay needed to be made. You prayed for your animals. You understood just how important faith in farming is.

8. The worse forms of punishments in fact were not getting spanked. The worse forms of punishment included picking rocks out of dirt lots and walking through fields with a feed sack and scissors cutting thistles. Even worse than that? Being told to stay in the house. Ughhhh!!!!!

9. You have been chased by a chicken, bucked off a horse, cut by a barb-wire fence, kicked by a cow, fallen face first in mud, fell out of a tree and/or have fallen off a tractor/truck/trailer (just to name a few) on a few occasions. Funny thing is, it did not slow you down one bit. 1016244_10201392292111296_1643819930_n

10. You did not open your Christmas gifts on Christmas morning or go trick-or-treating on Halloween until all the chores were done. And you did not complain about it.

11.  The best bonding time with your daddy came from sitting on his lap in the tractor. You seriously felt like the luckiest kid alive. What made you feel even luckier? Riding with your daddy in the combine! Also, let’s face it. Whatever your daddy’s favorite kind of tractor was, well it was yours too.

12. Your momma cooked the best home-cooked meals. She was the best at making those daily bumps, scrapes and bruises that we would always get all better. She could get manure and oil stains out of anything. She could then go outside run a tractor, haul cattle to town, tend to a sick calf, haul hay and back a trailer just as good (or sometimes even better) than your daddy and the other farm hands could.

untitled13. Hay season, planting, chopping, etc. were like mini Christmases to you. You could ride in the tractor all day long, your meals were brought out to you, you could even stay up past your bedtime sometimes…

14. Yes, we had our swing sets, trampolines, sand boxes, etc. However, those were not the coolest things to play with. The coolest things were round bales, livestock trailers, piles of seed, skipping rocks at the pond  and stuff like that. Now that was fun!

15. You could operate equipment, drive a tractor, drive the farm truck and run the 4-wheeler at a very young age. (I won’t exactly specify what age this is, but let’s just say it is way before the age of 15.)

16. You could tell if a cow was calving by the age of eight. You got to see more live animal births of any kids in your class. Once again, cool kid status reached! While we are on the subject, you could tell if an animal was sick. You could determine how crops were doing. You could count hay bales during hay season. You knew a great deal about medicines, fertilizers and other farming practices. You were that smart.

17. You have had the opportunity to see more sunrises and more sunsets than most kids your age did. That is pretty cool.sunset

18. You had manners and learned to respect your elders. You learned the importance of listening and following instructions. You quickly learned the value of a dollar. You just learned lesson after lesson day after day.

19. You strongly disliked going to school sometimes because you could not stand to be locked up inside. You’d much rather be outside working on the farm, no matter how it was like outside. It would literally drive you insane. (Sidenote, all of your projects/assignments somehow incorporated farming into them.)

20. You had that one animal: One dog, one cat, one cow, one horse, one something that was your buddy and at the time, your best friend. That special animal is one you will never forget.

21. Your senior pictures, prom pictures, graduation pictures, etc. have a tractor, truck, FFA jacket and/or livestock in them more than once.200592_1002209537548_6788_n

22. You were proud to be a member of 4-H and/or FFA.

23. The older you got, the more responsibilities and chores you were given. No we were not slaves of our parents. No we were not “overworked.” Our parents were teaching us one of the most valuable lessons a person could learn – that is RESPONSIBILITY!

24. You understand the value of hard work, commitment, good character, good business and dedication. Farming is no easy task, and you fully comprehend the fact that these values will benefit you the rest of your life. These values will lead to success and you know it.

25. You realize just how lucky you are to have grown up on a farm. You realize that you want your future kids to grow up on a farm too because there really is not an upbringing that can compare. ❤

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I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. One thing I know for sure is  that I am so proud to be considered one of these kids. If you are, share this! Show the world you’re proud of it too. Better yet, thank your parents for giving you the rare opportunity to grow up as a farm kid.  

Thanks so much for reading this post. As always, God Bless You All!

Until next time…

~Ali~20131122-121833.jpg20131122-121808.jpg20131122-121818.jpg

Agricultural Communications….Working for Farmers, Educating the Public, Sharing Agriculture’s Story

There are two types of questions that I am asked pretty much on a daily basis. 1) The typical hows the family, how old are you now, are you married kinds and 2) where do you go to school, what year are you and what are you studying kinds of questions. So you are probably wondering, “Alison where exactly are you going with this?” Just sit back, read on.

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It is nothing new for people to ask me what I plan on doing with my agricultural communication degrees. My common answer is hopefully something in promotion of agricultural products, marketing, advocating, public relations, writing, public agricultural education, etc. However, one of the most crazy questions I’d been asked after telling someone what I’m studying is this. (I’m NOT making this up either!) “So agricultural communications, huh? So that means you’ll like talk to animals and actually communicate with them?”

After proceeding to pick my jaw up of the floor and bite my cheek hard enough so I wouldn’t laugh or make a sarcastic comment back (for everyone that knows me, I can be super sarcastic sometimes…). Honestly, the first time this happened, I did not really know what to say for a second. I mean I really wanted to be funny – and yes I know as an agvocate I should never do that, but just go with it – and say something like- “Why yes, just call me the next animal whisperer!” “Yes because I am the female version of Dr. Doolittle” Haha 🙂

While on the topic of some of the “crazy” things I have heard people say, here are some other common questions/statements I have heard/seen. Feel free to laugh (I really hope you do!); however keep in mind that this represents lack of agriculture education.

  • My family and I show Brown Swiss dairy cattle. I have heard this at almost every fair I have shown at. “Oh look at those brown cows. That’s where chocolate milk comes from!!!!!” True story.
  • While talking about the milking process at the Missouri State Fair, I was asked this. “Do those sucky things (referring to milkers) hurt the cows? I cannot believe you put those on the poor cows!” This seriously happened.
  • “Why do we need farmers when I can just go to the grocery store and get all my food?” I can’t make this up.
  • A 60+ year old woman from a large city approached me and my cow at a Branson, Missouri resort where I was talking about dairy. “This is the first time I have ever touched or seen a farm animal.” So crazy!

Do you see why agricultural communications is important now?

In all seriousness, I do explain what I am planning to do with my degrees. I explain why agriculture is so important and I truly hope that I do make them realize this concept! However, as ignorant as this sounds to some of us that people actually think agricultural communications deals with talking to animals, this is actually something quite alarming. It is proof of just how uneducated the public is about the agriculture industry. This also gives me a sense of purpose, as well as a mission to tell agriculture’s story.

These encounters gets the wheels in my head turning and reminds me that I really am where I need to be. Why do I need to tell agriculture’s story? Why do I need to work to promote agriculture products? Why do I need to support farmers?

Here’s a few facts about agriculture that will be better than any explanation I could give.

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  • Twenty two million American workers produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber. But only 4.6 million of those people live on the farms– slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. Population
  • Consumers spend $547 billion for food originating on U.S. farms and ranches. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is approximately 23 cents. The rest are for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.
  • Nearly two million people farm or ranch in the United States. Almost 90 percent of U.S. farms are operated by individuals or family corporations. And American agriculture provides jobs—including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing and marketing, along with retail and wholesale sales–for 15 percent of the U.S. population.
  • According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, 50 percent of the farmers are 55 years of age or older, up only three percent from 1997. Average age of the principal operator is 55.3.
  • A recent survey of America’s young farmers and ranchers revealed that 97.2 percent planned to farm and ranch for life. And 90 percent said they would like their children to follow in their footsteps. This provides strong incentive for today’s farmers and ranchers to protect and preserve he natural resources on their property. Not only is the land and its resources farmer’s lifeblood today, it represents the future for his family and its business.
  • Forty-one percent of U.S. total land area is farmland (938.28 million acres). In 1900, the average farm size was 147 acres, compared to 441 acres today.
  • Experts still project that our population will add more than 2 billion within the next 40 years.
  • The efficiency of U.S. farmers benefits the United States consumer in the pocketbook. Americans spend less on food than any other developed nation in the world. On average in 2004, Americans spent only 2% of their disposable income on meat and poultry, compared to 4.1 percent in 1970.
  • Farmers and ranchers are independent business people who provide for their families by growing and producing food and fiber. They use modern production techniques to increase the quality and quantity of the food they produce. In the 1960s one farmer supplied food for 25.8 persons in the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer supplies food for 144 people in the U.S. and abroad.

More facts can be found here: http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.fastfacts

How do you feel about agriculture now?

F481501_10200455320567593_712146636_nor you farmers and fellow agriculturists feel INSPIRED! feel PRIDE! You are responsible for feeding the nation and the world. You are responsible for life as we know it here in the United States! I know you do not get the credit you so deserve. (That “So God Made a Farmer” video…just think about that!) That is why I am in agriculture communications. I want to change that so you can keep on doing what you’re doing and so that you can get some appreciation. I have your backs!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE

For those who have never considered agriculture to be such a major part of your life- feel EDUCATED! feel THANKFUL! Considering only less than 2% of the population is responsible for providing you with food and fiber on 41% of the land here in the U.S; you spend less on food compared to any other country in the world; the population grows everyday meaning more mouths to feed on the same amount of land used for production practices today; many farmers are older than 50 meaning fewer young people are entering the production agriculture sector; and agriculture is a huge part of our economy and our daily lives! I want to be a reason that the public becomes more educated about agriculture.

For those who are disrespectful to farmers and criticize them for production practices feel the need to CHANGE your views. feel GRATEFUL instead of hateful. After reading the facts above, seriously reconsider your accusations and the perceptions you have of what agriculture should be. Here’s the deal. If all producers went to non-confinement farming, did not use vaccines, did not use pesticides, etc.? ask yourself these questions. How would we have enough land? How would we control disease to ensure enough of a safe product for consumption? How could we produce enough product to meet growing demand of food products? Our current methods of productions are efficient. Yes, there are ways which to improve so let’s focus on improvements instead of working to enforce more strict regulations, shutting farms down, etc. I want to be the reason you change your mind about agriculture!

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As you can see, agriculture is important. Sometimes, farmers forget just how important they are. Sometimes, the general public forgets just how lucky we all are to have a strong agriculture industry. Sometimes people forget about reality and focus just on how they want farms to be like. (You know, rolling green pastures, big red barns, happy animals, etc.) As an agricultural communicator, these are some of the challenges I know I will face. It is an almost impossible task of educating every single person about agriculture. I truly believe that through efforts such as advocating agriculture at community events, direct contact with the public talking about agriculture, working for farmers, using social media, writing newspaper articles, designing material to tell agriculture’s story, making videos, developing agricultural advocacy websites, etc., I can be a big part of this difficult task.

To wrap this post up, I just want to say this. There is no doubt in my mind that agriculture is in my blood. I was born a dairy farmers daughter, so it is safe to say I have been involved in the industry since the day I was born. My dad’s parents were dairy farmers. My mom’s parents are still dairy farmers. Two of my aunts are still dairy farmers. My dad is an agriculture education teacher. My cousin is an agriculture education teacher. Another of my cousins works in 20131020-204752.jpgagriculture engineering. My little sister is majoring in agriculture at Missouri State. I have a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and have a semester to go before I get a Master’s degree in agricultural communications. Agriculture is a huge influence in my entire family’s lives and is something I have been around my entire life. To be able to work in a field where I can work to help my family is a blessing in itself. 🙂

I truly hope that you now have a better knowledge of agricultural communications. It is a diverse field with so much opportunity that I am blessed to be a part of! Remember farmers, pat yourselves on the back. Everyone else, thank a farmer because without them, you would not be here.

God Bless You All!!!!! Until next time,

~Ali

P.S.- GO ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!!!!! LETS GET THAT 12 IN ’13!!!! 🙂

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Life is Tough…But I’m Tougher

“I choose to be unstoppable. I am bigger than my concerns and worries. The strength of others inspire me daily. I focus on my goal. I trust my intuition and live a courageous life.”

I think I can speak for a majority of people when I say that life sure has a way of knocking us down sometimes. I can be one that can attest for that statement, especially after the events that have unfolded these past few weeks. I will be straight up and honest when I say I always try to put on a “tough girl” front. I strive to make a goal to try to be a positive light in others people lives even when I am facing struggles of my own. Sincere optimism, sassy sense of humor and simply smiling are three traits I want to exhibit to others no matter what…at least that is my goal. But as we all know, none of us are perfect. We can only be strong for so long before we break, crumble, fall away from our normal self and become distant from others for a while until we can pick the pieces up and put ourselves back together.My horse, Cherry Bomb, and I

“Sometimes, the prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets. The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain.”

So I think I made it obvious that I unfortunately have experienced some tough times here recently. Extreme stress from graduate school, uncertainties of what my future holds, losing a dear family member and other things have really gotten to this sassy lady. Yes I will admit, there has been times that I have almost completely broke down. Yes, there has been times that I wanted to just give up. However, it did not take me long to realize that is not who I am. That is not how I want to live my life. It took some conversations with the big man upstairs, some flipping of Bible pages, advice from some of my closest friends/family and constant reminder from myself that I am strong enough to handle anything.

“Life…has knocked me down a few times, it showed me things I never wanted to see, I experienced many sadness and failures…But one thing for sure- I ALWAYS GET UP”

Thankfully, I’ve been able to regroup and get to feeling normal again. I have taken a step back, remembered what is truly important in life and have made these bad events into learning experiences. (And of course, I had to incorporate optimism into them all!) Stress from graduate school? I have to deal with it. Stressing about it will not make it any better. Uncertain about the future? Quit worrying about it! Have faith in God that He will direct my paths and will provide like always. Losing a family member? Never easy and downright depressing. (My cousin passed away after fighting breast cancer and it was super hard on my entire family, but I know she is in a much better place where she is feeling no pain). And one of those other things – I’ll be honest about it – is getting poison ivy all over my face and arms which led to a trip to the doctor, who then put me on meds that literally made me crazy. I know this doesn’t seem like a major deal, but when you are horribly moody, unable to fall asleep at night and retaining water making you feel like a hippo, all while having a nasty rash on your face then you kind of lose it. Haha, you can go ahead and laugh but it was just the straw that broke the camels back if that makes sense.1373928_10201913058490130_1771588366_n

“Next time you’re stressed: take a step back, inhale and laugh. Remember who you are and why you’re here. You’re never given anything in this world that you can’t handle. Be strong, be flexible, love yourself and love others. Always remember just keep moving forward.”

In lieu of all of these situations, I have learned a great deal about myself and life in general. First of all, tough situations lead you to discover who your true friends are and who really does belong in your life. Secondly, simply stated life is going to suck sometimes. That is just how it is. You just have to rely on God and rely on your faith to remain strong to overcome these not-so-good times. Also, another lesson learned is that life is too short to be anything but happy. Seriously, make the most and best out of each day and never take anything for granted. Most importantly, life is a blessing , so stop stressing!!!! On a more funny note, I did learn that if I ever get poison ivy again, I will not take the medicine that makes me a crazy person. (I think a lot of other people will appreciate that too!) Here is a list of quotes that sums up what I have learned that can also help you 🙂

  • “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”
  • “Life is too short to stress yourself with people who do not even deserve to be an issue in your life.” -Anon
  • “Faith is knowing and believing, not wondering and doubting.”
  • “Use your smile to change this world. Don’t let this world change your smile.”
  • “Don’t stress the could haves. If it should have, it would have.”
  • “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than what you’ve ever imagined.”
  • “The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of everyday!”
  • “Never let a bad situation bring out the worst in you. Choose to stay positive and be strong.”
  • A woman’s strength isn’t just about how much she can handle before she breaks. It is also about how much she must handle after she’s broken.” 1384977_10201948418534109_452540958_n

My “AG” ventures definitely have not been the most positive situations lately that is for sure. However, I do know that I will be an even stronger person now that I have been able to endure what I have so far. I know that as people, we all go through times when you cannot help but feel a little down. I must say that if it was not for my family, friends, my horse, my dogs and my faith, I know I would not even be where I am today. It is these things that truly matter because they are the ones who are always by my side and they are the ones that always puts a smile on my face. I hope this post serves as an inspiration/motivation for others who are going through struggles and trials of their own. There are always brighter days ahead. Just keep your head up, keep smiling and let your light shine!

“I believe everything happens for a reason. People change so you can learn to let go. You believe lies so that you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself. Things go wrong so that you can appreciate them when they’re right. And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

 

This blog is dedicated to my cousin Deana who recently lost her battle to breast cancer. She was one of my biggest inspirations and is a true hero! Please remember that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Think Pink!!!!!

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Changes Made, Transformation Happened

Change. We all endure it whether it be by choice or by just simply growing up. Transformation. We all have the choice to transform into the person we want to be. You put change and transformation together and chances are you will accomplish anything you set your mind to. You may be thinking, “How does a 23-year old college student know this???” Well the answer to that question is that I am living proof that when you make the decision to change and transform into the person you are striving to be, you will achieve your goal.

This is not my typical post of something that I have recently went through involving agriculture. I decided to change it up just a tad and share my story of how I have transformed into a stronger person in the last few months. I will share with you a list of quotes, song lyrics, Facebook posts, tweets and personal experiences that have helped me in my journey in becoming a young woman who loves herself, her life and who is not afraid to admit to herself when she is not getting what she deserves. It is my hope that maybe this post can serve as an inspiration to others who are looking to become stronger, more self-confident and someone who sets a good example

Obviously, throughout life, change happens.1187242_10201768235829654_1437411353_n(See picture to the right. Yep that’s me as a little girl and then a picture of me today.) In the words I like to use, it truly is complete craziness how much we change on the outside over the years. Obviously there’s about 20 years missing; however the point I am trying to make is that change happens sometimes that is out of our control. With that being said, the main point I am wanting to discuss is the change we can control. We can, in most cases, control how we think, how we look and how we view ourselves. I am the first to admit I have been simply horrible in all three of these areas. I have not had the confidence and self-worth that I should have. I let myself think I was never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. I basically hit rock-bottom in regards to how I viewed myself from the inside and out. To this day I do not know what caused me to switch out of the “poor,pitiful, loser me” funk I was in this spring. Over a duration of a few weeks, I was able to completely turn my thinking around. I realized I deserved better. I realized that I was in control of my own happiness. I was in control of me. I made the decision of turning my life around because I have been blessed in more ways than I can mention to be thinking the way I was. So I constantly prayed to God for guidance, strength and support that I can make a change to transform into the young woman I wanted to be.

The first change I began to work on was getting back into shape. Let’s face it as humans we want to feel like we are attractive. I hate this natural trait, but it 20130903-181418.jpgi20130903-192225.jpgs there and from what I have learned, it will never go away. So I was not happy with the way I looked and decided to begin running to get my body looking the way I envisioned. There were some roadblocks along the way- going weeks at a time without being able to tell a difference, getting sick, etc.- however the competitive side of me kicked in and I never quit. I kept running on a daily basis. I am proud to say that today, I look like a completely different person. In a span of two months, I have achieved my goal in looking in a way where I feel beautiful and more self-confident. You can see for yourself in the photo to the left…the pic on the left is me the first of June. The pic on the right is me as of two days ago. The other photo on the right is just to show the progress that has been made.

The biggest challenge I faced was making the change to revise my thinking. I was the type that tended to “settle” and always feared I was never good enough. (This goes for everything) I constantly worried about if I was “cool” enough of if people thought I was a complete weirdo. Don’t get me wrong I do still face this challenge today; however I am already 100 times better than what I was. Anyways, once again, the lightbulb came on and I realized the way I was thinking was completely stu-pidddd as Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty would say. First of all, I realized that I should never settle for something because I felt like I did not deserve something better. Secondly, I should not worry so much what people thought about me. Like the saying goes, “haters gonna hate.” I knew that I had to get off the kick of trying to please everyone and start making sure I was looking out for myself some. The bottom line was instead of worrying what others thought, I needed to concentrate solely on the being the Christian I needed to be and loving myself.

I think the one of the biggest influences in changing my way of thinking came from a quote I saw on good ole’ Facebook. It said, “Always remember that somewhere in the world, there is a little girl who wants to be just like you.” This really hit home because if the people who looked to me as a role model really knew how low I was on my own self, they definitely would not be calling me a person they wanted their daughter to be like. I’ve got a younger sister, younger cousins and very close friends who really did think I was someone they could look to as an example. With this in mind, I knew that a change needed to be made. It has been difficult because there are days I want to revert back into my old ways of thinking; however the difference it has made in my happiness has been incredible. Since I am giving myself more credit, happy with the way I was living life and happy with myself, I have become even more personable and have even let that sense of humor I often keep bottled inside out. I now feel I have fully came out of my shell and seriously do not let the thoughts of others affect the way I act. It is definitely a work in progress, but I know I can continue to improve.

The last topic I really wanted to discuss was knowing what I deserve. No more of this thinking that I can never be good enough. I’m just going to be blunt and say that I am always going to be good enough. I’ve accomplished more in my life that I could have ever imagined. Winning outstanding freshman in the school of agriculture my sophomore year of college, winning the senior excellence in agriculture award my senior year in college, winning the Citizen Scholar Award which is awarded to the top six students of the entire Missouri State University student body, getting my entire graduate school paid for because of the character and hard work I displayed in my undergrad career, the list goes on and on. I am definitely not trying to be boastful by any means; however I just want to remind myself of these things to prove that I do deserve the best. These are things I should never be ashamed of because people may call me a nerd or whatever. This is something I believe everyone always sells themselves short. I have learned to realize that you should never settle with anything less of what you deserve. We all deserve the best. Please, please remember that!

I definitely do not want to come across that I’ve turned into a selfish, too-good for anyone, miss goodie two shoes type of girl. No, no and no. I have just learned to accept and be proud of my accomplishments, as well as be confident in myself to always know what I deserve. I’m always going to be the laid back, easy-going (well most of the time) type of girl who can get along with just about anybody. I’m still the same person, I’m just now more vocal and quicker to realize when I should step up and say what I feel. I’m not afraid to admit that I am different and that there are not a lot people like me. (Which honestly, is totally cool!) I now don’t try to be someone I’m not just to impress. Now, I am striving to by myself and realizing that the people who accept me for who I am are the ones who will have a spot in my life. Once again, we all need to remember this.

I also couldn’t leave out this. I am so, so, so blessed to have an amazing family. My parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. are truly the best. They have influenced and inspired me in so many ways. I also have the best circle of friends everrr! I also cannot forget to mention those I work with at Missouri State as well as all my other employers. There are no words to describe how lucky I really am!

This has honestly been one of my harder blogs to write. It is never easy telling the world about some of the major problems I’ve faced. However, I do want to remind that the entire point of this post was to serve as an inspiration for others who may be facing the same battles.

In closing, I want to leave a list of quotes I have turned to and have learned to incorporate into my life. Some I have just come across, some have been sent to me by some of my closest friends, some came from songs I heard on the radio and the last one is something I posted on Facebook (imagine that…I post on there ALL the time lol). So if you ever need some inspirational quotes, remember you can visit my blog to find them. I hope they influence you like they have influenced me.

  • “Don’t chase people. Be Yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people -the ones who really belong in your life- will come to you. And stay.” -Will Smith
  • “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think. Not wonder. Not imagine. Not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.” -Unknown
  • “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips speak only words of kindness; and for poise walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
  • “If you ever feel like giving up, just remember there is a little girl watching who wants to be just like you. So don’t disappoint her.”
  • “You may never be good enough for some people, but you will always be the best for those who deserve you.”
  • “Always know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve.”
  • “What is meant to be will always find its way.” Everything happens for a reason
  • “Life is too short to be anything but happy.”
  • Just have faith!
  • “There’s nothing you face today that you and God cannot handle together.”
  • I may not wear a size zero, drive a fancy car, own a bunch of “cool” things or be a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and lets her feelings show. However, I will say I’m a unique individual and even though sometimes I march to the beat of a different drum, I am so happy and proud of who I am no matter what anyone says or does to me. I’ve got a loving God above me who has blessed me beyond measure, the best family and friends a girl can ask for, a future that is looking brighter every day, the chance to have been born and raised on a farm and the opportunity of pursuing a career/education in an industry I am very passionate about. Sorry for the lengthy post, but this has really come to mind these past few days. (If you’re ever feeling down, remember this!) I am so lucky and so, so blessed!!!!! -Yours Truly 🙂

And the most important quote of all that has helped me on a daily basis-

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13

This is just a very short list of some quotes that have made my “Quotes to Live By” list. I hope you also find them helpful! Yes this blog has been lengthy, but I feel so accomplished after writing it. I truly hope it can serve as an inspiration for others.

Until next time, God Bless You All!!!

~Ali

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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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FFA: Enjoy It While You Can

Like many other Missouri State Agriculture students, I have spent the past few days helping with the FFA District judging contests. These contests, held during the first of April every year, bring in high school FFA students and advisors from all over southwest Missouri. With this flood of students to the Missouri State Campus and the Darr Agricultural Cener, also brings back so many memories I had during my FFA years.

I helped work the dairy and equine contests. During the equine contest, I helped by riding horses in the performance class, making sure students were not talking and organizing score sheets. In the dairy contest, I helped by organizing showmen, leading cattle for students to judge and taking reasons. It was definitely a long day; however I really did enjoy it. It brought back so many memories, as well as allowed me to see what the future of agriculture looks like. I also had the opportunity to watch my little sister judge horses, which is a very proud moment for a big sister to watch! 🙂

Being able to still be a part of the FFA by helping with contests is something I am grateful for. Seeing students work so hard to represent their chapter well and hoping to make it to state contests is just so humbling for me to watch. Just seeing so many high school students participate in these contests is a great feeling in itself.

With all this being said, I made the decision that I sure do miss the FFA. Early mornings to head to contests, roadtrips to convention, weekend stays in Columbia, long days spent in official dress, wearing my blue jacket, memorizing speeches, FFA camp and the list goes on and on. FFA has done so much for me and has opened so many doors. Looking back, I wish I would have not taken those years for granted…

 Once again my AGventures has led me to an experience that has the wheels in my head turning. The time I dedicated to working contests these past few days has me really thinking about what FFA has done for me. It also has me thinking about how it needs to be stressed to current members about how they will miss FFA one day. If you are one of those current members, I advise you to enjoy every second! If you are like me, I encourage you to reflect, as well as encourage those current members you know.

So I leave you with this: What has FFA done for YOU? Think about it. You never know where your thoughts will end up.

Until next time…  Ali

Valentine’s Day—Sharing my LOVE for Agriculture!

As you all know, today is the holiday for love. I deemed it as the perfect opportunity to express my love for an industry we could not live without. Agriculture is a lot of times taken for granted by so many, and it is only right to take a moment and think about everything this industry gives us. We need to show agriculture some love!

As I think about where I would be without this industry, the picture that comes to mind is downright scary. There would be no dependable sources for food, clothing, shelter, etc. We would not have the caliber of livestock and crops needed to meet our current demands. Scary to think about, right?

So today, as you spend some time with your valentine, take a brief moment to think about agriculture. Even on a holiday like Valentine’s Day, agriculture plays a huge role. Whether it be through the roses you are giving or receiving, or the chocolates you consume, agriculture is the reason those products are available for your enjoyment. Somewhere in the world, a producer developed those products for us to utilize on this holiday, so take a moment to appreciate them!

As for me, I am sitting here writing this blog thinking about the importance agriculture is to me. I love this industry not only for all the great things that comes from it, but also the foundation it lays for all of our futures. It is an industry that we all need to love and respect. We sometimes fail to think about how fortunate we are to have an agriculture industry like we do here in the United States. It is up to us to keep the industry strong so we can continue being so fortunate and blessed.

Thank you agriculture for not only providing me with a chance at a prosperous life, but also providing us all with the basic necessities we need to live. Once again, I urge all of you to take a moment today, and think about agriculture. It is time for all of us to show this industry some love, whether it be thanking a farmer, promoting products or educating others about the importance of this industry. Don’t ever be afraid to LOVE an industry that is so vital for all of us! ❤

Until next time…

The Importance of Agriculture—YouTube Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ozEXloGojE

Here is a video that me and a couple of my classmates put together in our Public Relations in Agriculture class. We were not allowed to make any edits. Feel free to share it!

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