As I sit in my seat, 20,000 feet above the plains of South Dakota, towards Montana, I have to breathe and process the last week. I have just been blessed to spend a week with over 1,000 people, all excited about agriculture, from more than 30 states, and all with the excitement to make their difference in agriculture. A majority of these people were part of our collegiate and Young Farmer & Rancher programs. These young farmers are our up and coming agriculture stars, the place where young agriculturalists can find a home, a network and a place to hone their leadership and advocacy. Then they hit the line, the drop off point: 36. Not too long ago, I was stepping over that line, looking for my place. It took me time, but now I found it, a home after YF&R. Promotion and Education.
Now, I’m sure it seems suspect to say, after advocacy, leadership and networking, I found a place in … promotion and education. I got it, I understand the skepticism. I was too at first. But then I looked at it, saw what it’s purpose was and what it was striving to do. And, in actuality I realize that my time before was leading up to this movement, it was the finish line not just a different road.
Promoting and educating about agriculture. Educating others involved in agriculture, those who use our agricultural products, individuals who set our laws, individuals who enforce our laws, business, in the US and abroad, how much more could you ask for!
I’m not a cheerleader (while I do strive to encourage others) I am a realist and an optimist wrapped up in one. I am optimistic that everyone sees the good individuals in agriculture, the advances we’ve made, the improvements we’ve done, the demands we’ve met and the fact that we work, eat and live right beside you. I’m a realist enough to realize that that isn’t the case. Yes, the vast majority are right in the line of that view, unfortunately it’s the vocal minority that makes promotion and education essential.
If I do not speak up for agriculture, who will? Again, if not I, then why? Why can I expect someone else to do it for me. The answer is, I can’t and I won’t. Am I always going to do it right? Heck no. Am I always going to be politically correct? Nope. Am I always going to care? Yes. Am I always going to do the best I can for my family and the future of agriculture and our place so one day it can pass onto the next generation? Absolutely.
So it will be I, and those around me who I’ve stepped forward to help and advocate, lead, educate and promote. It’s going to be a fun couple years, but a great start toward my next 20 years.