For the Love of Horses: 21 Facts about Horses and Horse Lovers

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By: Alison Bos

I once had a professor tell our class that “if you ever have a daughter, you better be ready because you will be purchasing a pony.” Our class laughed because deep down, we all knew it was true. Whether raised in the country or the city, there are so many little girls and even little boys who dream of owning their own horse, riding it through the fields and just having an animal to be their partner. 1546136_10202657633624043_1668778204_n

Unfortunately, a lot of little kids’ dreams about having their own horse never become a reality. However, there are several who do have the opportunity to grow up around horses. There are even those who get their own horse later on in life and get to end up fulfilling their childhood dream. This concept of people and horses does cause a lot of people to scratch their heads and wonder, “What is the deal with you and horses anyways?”  Well hang on because hopefully this blog will answer this question.

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Growing up, I feel like I was one of the lucky ones. I was a farm kid and also had a mom who was just as passionate about horses as I was. At six months old, I was put on a horse and have not looked back since.

Throughout the years, I have owned several horses. Each individual one has taught me something. A few of them even became like a best friend. They were my world and my escape from the stresses life would bring sometimes. Looking back, I really do not know how I would have made it through high school, and even college, if it was not for horses. I am sure there are many of you out there who can agree with that statement. Horses are more than what meets the eye. This is a concept that is often misunderstood because some just do not realize how much of an influence they can have on our lives.

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Every person has their own hobby that they are passionate about. It is that one hobby that they dedicate hours to and enjoy it. (Most of the time) It is that one hobby that ranks high on their priority list. Well for people like me, that one hobby revolves around the horse.

So here is a list of 20 things that many do not realize about us horse people and horses in general. This is 21 things that make us want to keep horses in our lives no matter where life leads us. 1000810_10201220383773695_397817303_n

So hang on to your hat and enjoy these 20 facts about horse lovers and the influence horses have on our lives.

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  1. Your first pony or horse is an animal you will never forget. They put up with you when you had no idea what you were doing. They would let you ride them for endless hours pretending you were a cowboy, rodeo queen, or whatever else your imagination came up with.
  2. Growing up, you did not have posters of the “hottest” celebrities or the “coolest” bands. You had posters of horses everywhere in your room.
  3. Breyer Model Horses were a common request on your Christmas and birthday lists. When you were given money, you would save up to 576184_10200774084856501_2077119822_nbuy a new one.
  4. Your favorite movie, TV show and book list included the following: The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Mr. Ed, Seabiscuit. More current movies: Hidalgo, Secretariat, Flicka and more. (Oh and the buckskin in Dances With Wolves is one that you literally drool over.)
  5. Nobody, and I mean nobody, took the remote from you when there were equestrian events on TV. (This is even true for most of us now!) The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes made you so excited. Olympics were only important when equestrian events were on. The first week of December during the National Finals Rodeo gets you giddy as all get out.
  6. Fun road trips include the following: Rodeos, horse shows, horse clinics, horse races, horse fests. You wanted to learn more and you wanted to build dreams of owning horses like you would see at these places.
  7. Common websites visited on your computer included Dreamhorse.com; Equine.com; Barrelhorsewold.com; horsetrailerworld.com and 935761_10201016928285343_2095876359_nany other websites that deal with horses.
  8. You are constantly planning your dream horse barn. Your dream horse trailer. Your dream horse. Your dream saddle. You have it all in your head even if it may not become a reality. Horses make you a dreamer, there is no doubt.
  9. You love your horse enough that they are in your prom and senior pictures (and for many, engagement pictures too!). Those pictures always turn out to be your favorite too.
  10. As you get older, you appreciate more about the horse. Not only are they beautiful creatures, but they are tremendous athletes and such trusting individuals. They really can do A LOT. They can carry a rider and America1393904_10202301002228481_1085074010_nn 734433_10202297160172432_417491144_nflag; they can jump jumps taller than a lot of people;  they can run around three cans doing a barrel pattern in breathtaking speed; they can run with such stamina and grace; they can work cattle; they can have pistols shot off their backs; they can carry disabled people for therapeutic purposes; they can carry soldiers in wars; they can do maneuvers most don’t know they’re capable of – for example reining  and dressage just to name a few.  alisonandcisco.jpg
  11. It does not matter how expensive horses are to own, care for and maintain, it is all worth it to you. The feed, wormer, vaccines, farrier 148602_1464077093231_6846913_nbills, vet bills cost a lot, but you do not care. The tack, equipment, fencing, trailer, truck, etc., also cost a lot, but once again, you do not care. It is not about the money; however it is about what makes you happy. Horses make you happy. And let’s face it. You spend more money on your horse than you do yourself. You would rather buy horse things instead of clothes.
  12. You have had (or currently have) that “one horse.” It is that horse that has left true hoof prints on your heart.  It is the horse that you are proud of. It is your “once in a lifetime horse” that you trust completely, love whole-heartedly and becomes literally like your kid. It’1011939_10201448932847279_1758945640_ns the horse that you can ride at any time and feel like the luckiest person in the world.
  13. Horses teach you what real trust is. You learn to trust an unpredictable, 1200 pound animal that could easily kill you. I know it sounds pretty harsh, but it is true. You trust your horse with your life each time you are around them and on their backs.
  14. It does not matter what kind of day you are having, a horse can make it better. Just hearing them nicker at you when they see you can turn a blah day into a good one. Just like that. You can also go just pet them, groom them and “talk “to them and it will brighten your day. If you are having a bad day, you can bury your face into their mane, cry and even feel like your horse understands. And, there is NO greater feeling than running your horse through the pasture after a bad day, or any day for that matter. 1186043_10201802419644228_460070482_n
  15. A horse can buck you off. You can break bones. They can run off with you, kick you, bite you, etc. However, this does not make you hate them. You love horses enough that you stick with it no matter what.
  16. Horses teach you to conquer fear. I can almost guarantee that if you own horses, you have been injured at some point. You have fallen off. Yes, you do gain fear after these things happen because it is scary. However, you learn to conquer your fear because there is a horse out there that helps you regain trust.
  17. Horses teach you something all the time. It is a constant learning experience when dealing with horses. Even if it is DSC06361a horse you ride every day, they always seem to do things that you learn from. You know what they like, what they don’t like. What they understand and what they don’t understand. You know just how far you can push them. How do we know these things? Horses teach us.
  18. Horses inspire you to be a better person. I know this sounds cliché, but it really is true. You see, when dealing with horses, you cannot have a bad attitude. You cannot be mean. They are docile, willing and perceptive creatures that respond best when treated with compassion and respect. They can sense when you are upset and tense. They are simply amazing. What is even cooler? The fact that horses bring you closer to other people who love horses too. 316460_2465861527933_1787093346_n
  19. If you have a horse that is sick or injured, you do everything in your power to bring them back to health and keep them comfortable. You spend money that you really do not have to give them veterinary care and attention. You lose sleep to check on them in the middle of the night. Shoot, in some cases you even sleep in the barn with them because you care that much.
  20. You base your future plans around whether or not you can have horses. You will only move to a place where you are able to bring your horse with you. Sounds crazy, but it is true.
  21. You know 100% that you want your kids to have the opportunity to have horses growing up. You want them to experience everything you did. You want horses to teach them the lessons they taught you. Even though it will be one of the scariest feelings ever putting your own child on top of an animal like a horse knowing the risk, you know you cannot stop your child from experiencing it. It’s that simple.

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As you can see, there are more to horses and horse lovers that meet the eye. We are all very similar in a lot of aspects. Undoubtedly, we are all on the same agreement that horses are amazing. They influence us in so many ways. Hopefully, this post will serve as an eye-opener – or a reminder- of just how much horses do for us. Kaci 149

Do horses influence you? Do you have a horse that is your world? Do you just want people to realize why horses are such a big part of your life? 1241582_10201837149232446_1816536938_nShare this! Let people know why you love horses.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Horses have been, and continue to be, a huge part of my life. I am very blessed and thankful for the horses I have been around the past few years, whether it be the ones I personally own or the ones I spend time with at work/school.

“Challenge me. Dare me. Or even defy me. But do not underestimate me. For on the back of my horse, anything is possible.”

Until next time, and May God Bless You All!

~Ali

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This post was inspired by my personal horse, "Cherry Bomb"

This post was inspired by my personal horse, “Cherry Bomb”

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You Might Be an Agriculture Student…

By: Alison Bos, Graduate Student in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture at Missouri State University

Some of the MSU Ag staff and students with the governor of Missouri.

Some of the MSU Ag staff and students with the governor of Missouri.

Being an agriculture student in college for going on six years now, as well as being that “ag girl” during my four years of high school, I have noticed there are some traits that truly set agriculture students apart. My goal here is not to be stereotypical by any means. My imagesCAJ0LRTUgoal is to- 1) allow readers to realize that agriculture students, just like farm kids, have a unique way of life that is quite different from others; and 2) to allow former, current and future agriculture students to read this and smile because they know it is true.

I do not want to take away anything from those of you who maybe did not seek degrees in agriculture or were not involved in FFA. I am sure you have had positive experiences in your area of study, and your area of study has provided you with similar opportunities. If that is the case, share your experiences! I am simply sharing mine.

Currently, there is an upward trend in students seeking degrees in agriculture. (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-08-01/agriculture-industry-studies-surge/56809406/1) Also, “today, there are 579,678 FFA members, aged 12‒21, in 7,570 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands” (www.ffa.org). Bottom line is that there are a lot of agriculture students out there.

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Billings, Missouri FFA Chapter in Indianapolis, Indiana during the 2009 National FFA Convention

Before I go into my list, I do want to spend some time praising all of you who dedicated your time to furthering your agricultural education in high school and/or college. Agriculture is definitely an underappreciated and misinterpreted industry that many have very false perceptions about. There’s the typical stereotypes about “agriculture people” out there that sometimes brings along times when you are given a hard time about being an ag student. The most important reason, however, is that agriculture feeds the world. For those of us who have and/or are devoting time in becoming more educated within the agriculture industry, we truly are important. You see, agriculture students understand. We “get it.” Less than two percent of the population is involved in production agriculture; therefore it is crucial for people to have a strong knowledge about agriculture in general. So from this agriculture student to you all- thank you for making the decision to choose agriculture! There is no doubt that we really are important.

Okay, back to the “You Might be an Agriculture Student” list. Like I mentioned before, feel free to laugh and smile as you read these because I guarantee that you will realize they are true.1536560_10202649286975382_2068401974_n

(Also, feel free to read “you might be an agriculture student” in the same way Jeff Foxworthy says “you might be a redneck.”)

Okay, let’s start with the obvious-

  • When you talk about a commercial dedicated to farmers aired during the Super Bowl more than the game itself, you might be an agriculture student.
  • When conversations consist mainly of your livestock, your horses, your farm, your equipment, etc. instead of the game last night or the most current fashion trends, you might be an agriculture student.
  • There are two occasions by which you notice a sharp decline of students in attendance and nobody can get upset about it. These occasions are the first week of gun deer hunting season and the National FFA Convention. Yes, you might be an agriculture student.
  • When you can wear camo, your “barn clothes”, boots, spurs and coveralls and have no shame. You might be an agriculture student.
  • When you see someone else in the clothing items mentioned above in another building or department on campus and you get a warm, fuzzy feeling because you think, “look, there is someone like me,” you might be an agriculture student. 536006_10150750952753524_1603440227_n
  • When you can tell what vehicles belong to ag students- examples: bale spikes on a truck, feed in the back, stickers of their favorite farm equipment company plastered over the rear glass window/bumper, manure/mud on vehicles, just to name a few- you might be an agriculture student.
  • When dirt and mud on floors from dirty boots is considered normal and not disgusting, you might be an agriculture student.
  • When you can miss class because your horse is sick, cow is calving or other similar reason and your agriculture teacher/professor completely understands, you might be an agriculture student.
  • When examples of “fun” activities to go do with your fellow aggie friends include bonfires, haunted corn mazes, concerts, conventions, backroading, livestock/horse shows, Farm Fests, etc., you might be an agriculture student.
  • When agriculture class field trips consists of going to places like wastewater plants, cattle A.I. (artificial insemination) facilities, local farms, greenhouses, grocery stores, recycling centers and more, then you might be an agriculture student. 576485_10150777224030699_1584263415_n
  • You are sitting in class and just cannot wait for the opportunity to share a past experience, the way you do things on your farm, something you have endured with one of your animals, or the excited feeling you get when a professor uses you and/or your farm as an example, you might be an agriculture student.
  • On most days, you will walk by someone in the agriculture building playing music. 99% of the time, it is country and you feel right at home, then you might be an agriculture student.
  • In most cases, there will be an area where “everyone” hangs out whether it be a commons area or a computer lab. (For my MSU people, the Student Activities Room) Here, instead of studying, you talk, sing, teach each other how to two-step, play spades, watch YouTube videos, look at Craigslist, look through tractor magazines, look at cattle sale catalogs and much, much more, then you might be in agriculture student.
  • When you walk in an agriculture classroom or agriculture building and think, “Thank goodness, I am right where I need to be…I feel right at home,” (just like the TV show Cheers, everybody knows your name) you might be an agriculture student.
  • If you and your friends have looked at Animal Crackers and tried to “judge” them like you would in an FFA judging contest to determine what kind of animal they are, you might be an agriculture student.  183832_10151251696515813_1151846823_n

Here’s a few more, but these are the less obvious. These are the ones that I have personally experienced in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture at Missouri State University. I have a feeling that most agriculture students all over the world feel the same way at their school. We truly are lucky to study something that is so important that fuels a passion within us that cannot be described by words.

  • Being around people who have a similar interest, a similar background and/or a similar passion of agriculture like you do, and you feel like you a right where you belong, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • The passion for agriculture your professors/teachers have inspires you. They make you want to learn more about the industry. They11269_1293562981202_5763305_n understand you are agriculture’s future, and they want to make sure you know how important you are. The cool thing is that your professor/teacher will do anything to help you and you believe without a doubt that you are surrounded by the best faculty at your school, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • You value your education and you understand your importance. Ultimately, you have a strong sense of pride because you will be responsible for the feeding the world, you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • Not only are you surrounded by people in agriculture, but you also have the opportunity to join student organizations that are ag based linking you to people who have similar interests as you (which creates long-lasting friendships), you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student. 71486_10200886065815955_913961266_n
  • You are surrounded by good, down-to-earth people who are willing to help you even if they do not necessarily know you. A group of students going to lunch will see you sitting at a table and go, “Hey we are going to lunch, you want to join?” You honestly never feel alone because there always seems someone there to talk to or study with, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • Let’s be honest. Days there are tests, early morning classes, 3-hour long lectures, etc., and you aren’t necessarily happy about it, BUT you still go and do  not totally dread it because you are excited to see friends and classmates, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • When you talk to students from other departments and you hear them say, “Man, I wish we had that,” or “I am so jealous because1080215_10201553747747586_398289611_n of everything you get to do,” then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • You have the opportunity to participate in so many things, meet so many friends that you will keep for years and are beyond satisfied with your education so much that you inspire those younger than you to study agriculture too, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • It does not matter how many years pass, you can still recall memories from “way back when.” When you see someone from school a number of years later, you and talk to them and reminisce (“Remember that time when Dr. ________…” “Remember when we went to the National FFA Convention…” “Remember when…”) You don’t forget and your friends don’t either and you realize that those were some of the best days of your life, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  • Yes, there will be people who will stereotype you, give you a hard time, make false judgments, etc., but you really do not care because you understand your value and importance, then you are lucky enough to be an agriculture student.
  •  I know I have kind of said this before, but you know your passion and you know your place. You know you are “home” and right where you need to be. You understand your are important, and you understand how important agriculture is. 222300_1029355496180_6215_n You “get it.” You have pride in what you do, and you are never afraid to share your experience being an agriculture student. You know you are lucky and are a part of a huge family. You understand your worth and know you are going to play a huge role in the future. I cannot stress this enough-

YOU ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE AN AGRICULTURE STUDENT!

This list truly could go on and on. I feel so blessed to have been an “ag kid,” all throughout high school and college. From my FFA days at Billings High School to my college days as an aggie at Missouri State University, I am so thankful for the experiences that agriculture has provided. I am thankful for the people I have met. I am thankful for being a part of an industry that feeds the world.  Are you?

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I hope this has allowed some of you to go down memory lane or some of you to realize how lucky you were to have been an agriculture student. For those who may not be agriculture students, I hope this gives you an insight to what it is like. I will be the first to admit that I am biased; however I just want to share just how proud I am to be an agriculture student!

If this touches you or you can relate to this, share it! Let people know how proud you are to be a student in agriculture whether it has been in FFA and/or in college. We are lucky. We are proud. We are aggies.

Until next time, thank you and God Bless You All!

~Ali 1186043_10201802419644228_460070482_n

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2013 The Year of the Farmer: 13 Reasons Why You Should be Thankful for Farmers & Ranchers

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It has been almost a year since Dodge aired the “So God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl and declared 2013 as the year of the farmer. As 2013 comes to a close, I thought of no better post other than one about the importance of our farmers. There may be some other blog posts out there like this; however in my opinion, there can never be too many posts about thanking those who put food on our tables.

With an increasing global population, a decreasing amount of land available for food production and with less than 2% of the U.S population directly involved in production agriculture, there is no time like the present to strive to educate the public about agriculture and farming practices. It cannot be stated enough how crucial it is for more people to understand agriculture and not be influenced by common misconceptions (i.e. animal welfare, GMO’s, antibiotic use, etc.). There is no doubt that the general public needs to be more knowledgeable about agriculture, as well as more aware about just how much it impacts all of our lives.

It was rather difficult coming up with only 13 reasons why we should be thankful for our farmers. (Granted, give me enough time and I could probably think of 100 reasons.) It can be assumed that several of you can thank of several other reasons other than the ones I listed as well. However, the main purpose of this post is to educate those who may not be aware of just how much farmers do and provide for us. It also was written to remind farmers that they truly are important.

Let the countdown to the list of 13 reasons to be thankful for our farmers begin now.

Bazinga

Five

Four

Three

Two

One

AND HERE WE GO!!!!!!!

Thirteen Reasons Why You Should Thank a Farmer

  1. Let’s start off with and state the obvious. FARMERS FEED US!!!!!! Without them, we would not be able to go to the grocery store and have access to an abundance of food products. We would not have food on our tables, in our cabinets, in our refrigerators/freezers, and the list goes on. Could you imagine a world without plentiful food? Yeah, neither could I. So yes, you definitely should thank a farmer. 12973_10201593605023993_1495218490_n
  2. Less than two percent of the U.S. population are farmers. Why is this important? For starters, we rely on a very small number of people to provide us with food we can consume and export to other countries. (Approximately 23% of raw products are exported every year.) Farmers not only provide for us here in the United States, but they also provide enough to export for people of other countries to consume. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  3.  Forget the typical stereotypes a lot of people have about farmers. There is no doubt that farmers are smart. Many do not realize just how much it takes to be a farmer. Farmers have to be able to be their own mechanics-they have to be able to fix a variety of things; veterinarians-they have to be able to provide basic care to their animals; bookkeepers/accountants-they have to be able to crunch numbers to ensure their farms efficiency and profitability; and they have to have a general knowledge and understanding about a wide variety of topics such as grazing practices, vaccination regiments, fertilizer applications, when to mow hay, when to plant crops, etc. You see, farming is much more than what meets the eye. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  4. Farmers work 365 days a year. There are no days off because it is a holiday, snow day or weekend. Farming requires time, hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment. It is definitely not an easy job. It is definitely not a profession where you are guaranteed to be wealthy. It is not a profession where you can predict how much money you will make. There’s no doubt this lifestyle is tough. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  5. Farmers do CARE about what they do. Yes, there has been videos released of animal abuse occurring on farms; however those people who were in the videos are not what I consider a farmer. Farmers put the needs of their animals above their own. They seek practices that is most conserving of their land. They work to keep animals comfortable and land productive. This level of care simply represents just how genuine most farmers are. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  6. Tradition is very important to farmers. Most of the farmers I know come from several generations of farmers. Not only do they understand the importance of farming in general, but they also farm to keep their family tradition alive. This is5342_201789796644687_27104960_n important because at least one of their kids will want to keep the tradition of the family farm going. This is important because that gives us assurance that the future of farming is in good hands. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  7. Farmers are dedicated. As I somewhat mentioned before, farming relies on so many uncontrollable factors such as weather, disease outbreaks, global issues, etc. A severe flood can ruin an entire corn crop. An outbreak of disease can negatively impact beef production. A tornado can wipe out an entire operation. An early freeze can destroy a crop. This list can go on and on; however the point is that farmers still push on no matter what the risk. They remain optimistic and do not fear what the future may hold. They focus on producing a safe and wholesome product. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  8. I think it is safe to say that farmers are some of the best examples of how neighbors should treat one another. Yes, I know there are probably some of you out there who have neighbors that cause you grief. However, when it comes right down to it, farmers always seem to step in when help is needed or tragedy strikes. Look at the community in Illinois that lost a farmer or at how an abundance of farmers came together to help a family of a fallen farmer in Iowa. People came from miles around to help these families get their harvests done. Why is this important? We live in a society where good is overlooked by so much evil going on. It is so humbling to see just how strong the farming community is. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  9. Stemming from the previous reason, farmers demonstrate what it means to stand united. Obviously with everything going on in our nation’s capitol and other issues occurring all over the world with constant controversy, it is once again so humbling to see a group of people who work together and who help each other. Farmers truly do that. An example of this can be seen in how farmers from all over the United States acted to help those in South Dakota affected by the tragic blizzard that struck there.  “Within the ranching community we are helping each other and doing what needs to be done. Working together to help our neighbors regardless of how financially hurt we are” (Agricultureproud.com).  Farmers also stand united when protecting the agriculture industry from false accusations made by animal rights organizations. Standing united is definitely an important part of the farming community. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 20131020-204715.jpg
  10. Let’s face it. Agriculture in the United States is what makes the country what it is today. This is important for U.S. citizens because we live in a land where we have an abundance of safe, wholesome food at a very affordable price. For those in other countries, a strong U.S. agricultural industry means the opportunity for others to import U.S. products, as well as adopt farming methods that could lead to increased productivity. We truly are so fortunate to have a strong agricultural industry. We have no other people to thank other than our farmers and ranchers. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 
  11. Farmers are caretakers of the land. Land use for farming is a very precious resource. With that being said, it must be properly cared for in order to remain productive in years to come. Farmers are adopting methods by which will conserve land, water and soil. Erosion control practices, rotational planting, rotational grazing and different tilling practices are just a few examples of steps farmers are taking to ensure land’s productivity. In addition, farmers provide habitat for wildlife – providing for at least 75% of the nation’s wildlife. Despite what some may say about farming destroying our environment, farmers truly do care about the land. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  12. From my own personal experiences, I think it is safe to say that farmers are major contributors in their communities. Whether it be 77aefda9-da0d-4379-9635-b83e1b1fd312donating to their local FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, booster clubs, fair boards, etc., farmers do take part in giving back to their respected communities in some way no matter how financially strapped they may be. In my community of Billings, Missouri, farmers do so much for this town. They provide assistance in weather events (tornadoes in 2003 and 2006, the ice storm of 2007 just to name a few), they support our high school, provide animals/equipment for educational events. I’m sure it is like this in every community, which to me is so amazing. So, yes you should definitely thank a farmer.
  13. Farmers endure so much to produce food that is safe, abundant and affordable for consumers. You may be asking yourself, “Why would someone want to endure so much, not make an abundance of money and not know what each year holds?” The answer is simple. Farmers are passionate about what they do. They love their lifestyle. They understand its importance. They value their livelihood. Farmers remain this way no matter what struggles and hardships they may be facing. Talk about determination, right? There is no doubt that farmers are underappreciated, undervalued and not given the respect they so deserve. With that being said, YES WE SHOULD DEFINITELY THANK A FARMER!

Hopefully this post has been an eye-opener to those who may not realize the importance of our farmers and ranchers. Hopefully it has provided farmers and ranchers with a sense of importance, as well as a sense of pride.

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The year 2013 has definitely been a good one when it comes to agvocating and reaching the public about the importance of agriculture. The “So God Made a Farmer Commercial,” numerous agricultural blogs that have went viral, parodies that have received millions of hits on YouTube and several stories about agriculture being shared on social media outlets are just some of the positive efforts that have happened this year. We also cannot complain about this years growing seasons. Of course, there were some hardships too. The South Dakota blizzard, the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma and Illinois, major flooding events, areas of drought and the recent ice storms are just some of the disasters that some of our farmers had to face. However, as I mentioned before, farmers are resilient and determined to keep pushing forward.

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Now it is time for you to take action. Thank a farmer. Respect a farmer. Next time you find yourself behind a slow tractor or combine on the road and become irritated, remember it is those people who feed you. Just do what Craig Morgan sings and “smile and wave, and tip your hat to the man (or woman) in the tractor!” If you drive by a farm and see a farmer working, give them a thumbs up and a wave. Just be grateful and thankful for them. Show some appreciation and respect!

Dodge Ram declared 2013 as the Year of the Farmer. I vote we all take a stand, raise our voices, be thankful for our farmers and make every year a year of the farmer. So share this, share the “So God Made a Farmer” video, share another blog you like that talks about the importance of farmers/agriculture. Just take action to help educate the public about the importance of farming!

Farmers, thank you for all you do!

Until next time…

God Bless You All!

~Ali

My farming family!

My farming family!

Farmers DO Care- Dedication and Compassion to Animals

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First winter storm of the season has hit here in southwest Missouri. Winter Storm Cleon (since when did we start naming winter storms?) dumped about eight inches on my family’s farm and brought freezing temperatures along with it.  While many were excited about the snow because that meant no school, no work, being able to stay inside all day and be lazy…I mean who wouldn’t be? As wonderful as these sounds, every farmer knows that snow and cold mean everything but wonderful and lazy.

Busting ice in water tanks – usually resulting in you getting wet in the process; frozen hoses and hydrants – which means carrying water by bucket to your livestock…farm fitness at its best!; excessive straw shaking because you have to make sure livestock will be warm enough; making sure your animals have safe surfaces to walk on – scraping walkways, putting down gravel and other de-icing agents to prevent animals from slipping; having all tools on deck to make sure trucks and tractors run – and always remembering to unplug them before driving off; and having to dress like an Eskimo every time you go outside to get animals cared for and chores done. This list could easily go on and on, but my point is that farmers sure do a lot to make sure their animals are safe, comfortable and well taken care of. calf_snow

One thing that really gets me fired up is hearing and/or reading comments from people saying “farmers really do not care for their animals,” “when will farmers start caring,” and/or “oh, farmers are just in it for the money.” HSUS and PETA also post similar content and I just want to yell, “SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!?!” We know farmers do care. To be a farmer, you have to be passionate about what you do. You have a deep love for the lifestyle because we know it is definitely not an easy one. To hear people say these things is just so hurtful because of knowing the love farmers really do have for their animals.

With all of this being said, I have come up with a list of things either myself, family friends, neighbors, etc., have done for our animals to ensure their well-being is put first. Feel free to smile and nod as you read these because chances are you have done the same thing or know someone who has. If you are a non-farmer, I hope you find a sense of peace knowing just how much farmers love their animals. The bottom line of this list is proving just how much farmers do care.

Here we go…Farmers DO Care!

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  • If a calf, foal, kid, lamb, piglet or other baby animal is born outside on a frigid day and is fighting to stay warm, chances are it will end up in your pickup truck to help it warm up. Also, chances are that you take your coat off to use as a blanket for it. Does it make a mess sometimes? Well of course. Is it worth it? Most definitely because you just gave an animal a chance at life.
  • You have had a calf, foal, kid, lamb, piglet and/or other baby animal in your house at one point to save it. You bottle fed it every few hours. You made sure it was strong enough to survive outside. Once again, was it worth it? You bet!
  • When a cow is calving, a mare is foaling, etc., and is having trouble; you spring into action to try to help her and the newborn out. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, whether or not you are wearing gloves or how “gross” it is, you do whatever it takes to have a safe delivery. (You would not even believe how many calves I have helped deliver in my pajamas, good clothes and even church clothes in rain, snow, storms, cold, heat, etc.!)Cranberry
  • When a pregnant animal is showing signs of delivering, it does not matter what time of day it is, how busy you are or if it cuts into your sleep time. You are checking on her frequently to make sure everything is okay.
  • When you have an animal that is seriously ill, it does not matter how much money the vet bill costs and how financially strained you are. You call the vet. You buy whatever medicines are needed to save that animal’s life. You devote time to treat that animal. It does not matter what the conditions outside are like, you stay – in some cases, even sleep – with that animal in order to help it live. 20131020-204752.jpg
  • Animals are a top priority on the farm. There is just no other way to put it. Christmas morning, presents are not opened until animals have been cared for. If there was animal sick or in labor and needed attention, someone stayed with it even if they were missing a family-get-together, field trip or other event.
  • Animals are like a part of the family. You brag about them, you post pictures of them, you’re just proud of them because of all they do for you and so many others. This inspires you to give them the best care possible.
  • It does not matter what the conditions are like outside, you go out in them to feed, water and care for you animals. Extreme cold and snow? You bundle up and go outside. Thunderstorm? You hope you don’t get struck by lightning and go outside. Pouring rain? You put your rain coat on and go outside. Your animals get taken care of no matter what.
  • After a major weather event and after you know your family is safe, you fly outside to check on your animals. You’re their caretaker and you must be sure they are safe. DSC03635
  • You have shed countless tears after losing an animal you have worked so hard to care for and keep alive. Is it because you are thinking about the money you just lost? No. You cry because you feel you did not do your job in caring for that animal in a better way, even though that is usually not the case.
  • You’re willing to put your own life in danger in order to save an animal. Whether it’s trying to get animals in a barn during a storm, rescuing a calf that fell through ice on a pond or something like doctoring a sick calf while an upset momma cow circles you, you have no fear. It is the animal’s life that you are focused on.1237011_10201744743082350_959991564_n
  • It did not matter if you were sick or injured and the doctor told you to stay inside. You never listened. You had to see for yourself that your animals were all right. Dedication? Yes. Compassion? You bet.
  • You have been kicked several times, chased by an angry momma cow, bucked off your horse, mauled by a bull, attacked by a rooster or whatever else resulting in serious injury. Did that stop you from loving and caring for your animals? Absolutely not. You understand that this is a part of the farming life.
  • Your trusty farm dog is a major part of your daily endeavors. That dog listens to more stories than anything and stays by your side all day. Nobody hurt your dog and you did whatever it took to make sure that dog lived forever.
  • You prayed for your animals. You prayed for their health, their safety and their well-being. They are just that important to you.

224218_2043435207539_3010869_nAs you can see, farmers sure do a lot for their animals. Sad thing about this is that several people do not realize this. Unfortunately, they are simply unaware or have been influenced by something they have seen on TV or on the internet. No matter what the situation is, there is one thing that is clear. FARMERS DO CARE!

Like I said before, farmers love what they do. They have a passion, a desire and a purpose to be the best farmer and caretaker they can be. Their animals represent their livelihood; therefore farmers know they have a responsibility to care for their animals in the best way possible.

I hope this gives you knowledge about farmers’ love for their animals. Farmers, I hope this gives you pride about what you do.

Next time you come across a person who claims farmers don’t care, I hope you think about this post. Do you think farmers would do these things if they did not care? Do you think they are just doing this for the money? I don’t think so either. I urge you to share this to show that farmers care. Let’s show the world that farmers have a dedication and committment to their animals that is simply amazing.

Thank you farmers for what you do. Thank you for feeding the world while putting up with one of the most challenging, unpredictable and underappreciated lifestyles one could have. Farmers, thank you for caring so much about your animals!

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Until next time folks, stay warm and be sure to thank a farmer. God Bless You All!

~Ali

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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A Cinderella Story Featuring a Cow Named Bambi

Miss Bambi

Fulp Wonderment Bambi

Its the month of August so all of us “show people” know what that means. Show season is in full swing!!! Showing is what this post is mostly about; however it also demonstrates how a dose of bad luck can be quickly turned around by a simple gesture of love and generosity. So sit back and enjoy as I share with you a Brown Swiss Cow Cinderella Story.

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Timberline Jetway Toni

Angela

Timberline Denmark Angela

Like with most of my blog posts, I will begin with a background. When I was growing up, my parents owned a dairy farm where we milked about 60 registered Brown Swiss cows. The cows my parents had developed and/or purchased were simply good and some of the best in Missouri and even the United States. We had grand champion several consecutive years at Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, as well as several grand champion titles at the Missouri State Fair. We even won Supreme Champion (which is HUGE) at the state fair and Reserve Grand at World Dairy Expo with a cow back in 1999—Timberline Jetway Toni—who has been named one of the greats.  Among winning state shows, our cows had earned All-American and Reserve All-American titles, stood in the top of their class at the World Dairy Expo, won the first ever 3-year old futurity at WDE and even won at other national shows across the country. Needless to say, we had a very strong reputation in the Brown Swiss industry for having top of the line cows and I’ll admit it, huge targets on our backs. We sadly had to sell out in 2004 which I will say was one of the most difficult days of my life. (However, I am proud to say that even today- approximately 9 years later- our cows are still having a huge influence on the Brown Swiss breed through their offspring and continued success in the show ring.) A few years after selling our cows, my parents decided to buy some heifers for my younger sister and I to use as FFA projects and just to give us the chance to show again. Long story short, this turned out to be not as good as plan as we hoped for.

Our first year back, we had a very good show string winning both junior and grand champion at the state fair with two of our animals. We felt really good about our decision to be back; however our luck quickly headed the other way. My parents purchased a really good cow out of Wisconsin named Starbright for my little sister because she never had the chance to own and lead a milk cow. Well after her successful show season the first few months we had her, her health went downhill. It took us a year to get her pregnant and when she finally calved in, her health took a major turn for the worst. She was battling respiratory problems so severe that the vet at the University of Missouri said she could not survive on an actual dairy farm. So my parents being as awesome as they are, decided to set up a portable milker at our house and milk her here. We milked her for 3 months, twice a day at our place. She was happy, healthy and as you can imagine, very spoiled!!!! We all got very attached to her because of her gentle personality and having to spend so much time with her. When show season came around, we felt like she was healthy and strong enough to get back on the tanbark. She was milking over 70 pounds of milk per day, gained all of her weight back and was not showing any signs of having breathing problems. We hauled her to the state fair with hopes of her doing well, as well as the chance of my little sister being able to show a milk cow for the first time. Starbright settled right in at the fair the first two days she was there. The day before she was to show, I noticed her being off her feed and appearing to not feel well. We immediately called a vet to be sure she was okay. Long story short, late Friday night, Starbright breathed her last there in Sedalia, Mo. It was a traumatic life event for my entire family; however my little sister was hurting the worst. She loved her Starbright and it was obvious that Starbright loved her. I will never, ever forget my mom coming into our hotel room sobbing and having to listen to my little sister sob too when she heard the news. (I’m crying right now as I write this.) I will never forget this as long as I live. No person should have to go through losing a cow at a state fair like we did. The next few days, I remember not being able to walk through the barn without having tears streaming down my face. My little sister was a wreck. In the FFA show, I cried as I led my cow for the grand champion drive knowing that it should have been Starbright and my sister out there instead of me. The really bad thing about all of this is the fact that there were people there who began spreading rumors that we killed our cow by “drowning her” to get her looking good for the show when we were actually following the university vet’s orders of giving her BlueLite to get her rumen working. So not only did we have to deal with losing the cow, we also had to go around telling people that we did not kill our own cow by showing them necropsy reports that her lungs were bad and full of infection. (Mizzou’s necropsy on her showed that only 10% of her lungs were functioning and that is was only a matter of time before she couldn’t survive any longer.) Anyways, as you can imagine, we were completely devastated. My sister would cry every single day for the next several weeks. Not seeing Starbright in her paddock was so, so hard.

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Stephanie with our grandparents, Gary and Sue Fulp

About a few weeks later, my grandma- Sue Fulp- called us. She said that she and my grandpa wanted to give my little sister a calf to help heal the hurt she was feeling from losing Starbright. As much as we told grandma she didn’t have to do that, she insisted. Needless to say, a little Brown Swiss calf ended up over here. The calf’s name was Bambi and let me be the first to tell you, it fit her perfectly! She was about the size of a large dog and didn’t weigh 75 pounds. (Most swiss calves her age would have weighed about 120 pounds or more). Even though she was small, she was cute, cute, cute!!! We raised her up and my sister even showed her the next year. She was just an average heifer and always stood in the middle of her class. We sold the rest of our small herd that year, but kept Bambi because she was a gift. (We even tried giving her back, but she said absolutely not.) So we just turned Bambi out and let her grow. Of course with her being the only cow on the place, she also became extremely spoiled and was just like a big pet. When she was old enough, we bred her to one of the best bulls in the breed and she was confirmed pregnant due to calve in May. Throughout the winter, we noticed Bambi was no longer living up to her name. For whatever reason, she went through a major growth spurt. The heifer got HUGE! She was one of the biggest springer heifers any of us had seen. When May came around, Bambi calved in with a really good heifer calf. We sent Bambi back to my aunts and grandparents’ dairy where she would be milked thinking she probably would not turn out to be a show cow and focused most of our attention on that little heifer calf she had. My sister ended up calling the calf Bazinga. (We’re Big Bang Theory fans, can’t you tell?) Bazinga waBazingas a nice calf there was no question. She also had genomic numbers that were out of this world. She never got sick and always had a good appetite. When she was close to being weaned, she began this really bad habit of chewing her rope in half. We were sick of chasing her and worried she was going to get hit on the road, so we decided to go ahead an put her in the weaning pen. She was in there a good 5 days and did not have any problems. Long story short by day 6, we found her down almost dead. We ended up losing her and to this day do not know what caused it. Bazinga even made the profile picture of New Generation Genetics on Facebook and I even had inquiries about her from Europe. It’s always the good ones! Once again, my little sister was devastated. How much bad luck can one kid have?
Fulp Wonderment Bambi Supreme Champion FFA Show 2013 Ozark Empire FairIn the meantime before we lost Bazinga, we realized just how good of a cow Bambi truly was. Back in June, my cousin had called us and said we should highly consider showing Bambi because she had turned out to be a really nice cow. We entered her in the Ozark Empire Fair not expecting much. Granted there was only two head of Swiss there and she was the only cow. HOWEVER, seeing her all clipped and full of milk gave us a good indication that she really was good. Both judges told us she was one of the best 2-year olds they’d seen and that she needed to be shown at the state fair and other national shows. Bambi ended up winning Supreme Champion of the FFA Show beating all other breeds. There was about 80 head of dairy cattle there and many exhibitors stopped by to tell us we had a good one. Unfortunately, there were those who talked saying it wasn’t a big show and that winning supreme was not a big deal there. Well it definitely was to us knowing the full story and knowing she was a gift from my amazing grandparents. Also, being able to see the excitement on my sister’s face after seeing it completely devastated when she lost Starbright was simply amazing. My grandma and grandpa were soooo excited when they heard how well Bambi did! So, we ended up paying late fees and entered her in the state fair.

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Me and Bambi or as we also call her “Bam-Bam”

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So thankful for this cow allowing my sister to experience this!

Bambi made the trip to Sedalia with my cousins and their cows. She did well in the open show placing 2nd in her class and winning reserve intermediate champion. In the FFA show, she won her class, was intermediate champion and reserve grand champion. Bambi will also be making a journey to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Southwestern National Show and possibly even to Louisville, Kentucky for the Eastern National Show.

Throughout all of this success, we make it known that people know Bambi’s story and be sure to give all the credit to our grandparents. We want their story to be heard!

This has been a lengthy post, but given the story, I did not want to leave any details out. For some, it is hard to understand how attached we get to our cows. For others who do understand, they will get teary eyed as they read this post. I do look at life differently than a lot of people, but to me this story serves as a life lesson. My grandparents saw my sister hurting and did what nobody else did. They acted and gave my sister a calf to help heal the hurt. My grandma obviously had no idea Bambi would turn out the way she did…nobody did! (Honestly, I almost laughed when I first saw her because she was such a runt.) They acted out of love, kindness and generosity. To me, that is what makes this story so special. Of all the calves she had, for whatever reason she chose Bambi. I truly believe that the reason Bambi turned out so well is because of my grandmas act of nothing but pure kindness and love. Some may be jealous, some may be pessimistic, some may even just shake their heads. I don’t care.

I think it is fate, and I believe it is God’s way of showing us that no matter how bad life gets, there are always better days ahead. He really does reward us for living like Christians should

Look at my sister for example. She lost Starbright and Bazinga. If it was not for Bambi, I do not know how she would be right now. The really cool thing about this is that Bambi was not a result of going out and spending thousands of dollars. She was not a result of greed. I am so thankful for my grandma and grandpa. They set a good example like always and this story just proves that. It also proves that everything really does happen for a reason. Next time you see them, give them a hug. Congratulate them on breeding a phenomenal cow. We are the ones who show her; however they are the ones who created her. They are the ones who gave my sister this opportunity. They are truly an inspiration! I love them so very much. Words truly cannot express how appreciative, honored, blessed, and the list goes on and on, myself as well as the rest of my sisters and cousins are to have them as grandparents.

This truly is your typical Cinderella Story. Granted, there are probably not many of these featuring a cow; however when you’re a girl who has been involved in dairy for so long and who has grown up loving basketball, I couldn’t resist using the term to describe this story. I hope this influences you like it has influenced me. Thank you for reading this all the way through. Until next time, God Bless!

~Ali

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Way to hang in there Steph. This is only the beginning for what is in store for the two of you!

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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