“Daddy raised a farm girl and mamma raised a girly girl, there is no other way to describe my lifestyle.” These are some of the words from my 2016 Rock Island County Fair Queen Pageant speech where I received 2nd Runner Up. Everyone has a background that has shaped them into who they are today. By the age of 5 I learned how to ride a horse on my own, steer a tractor, and help my sister show her pigs at the county fair. Being born and raised into a family so passionate about agriculture is what made me who I am today.
4-H has made a huge impact on my life. When I was younger I struggled with a speech impediment. My sister, Kayla, who is 5 years older than me was involved with 4-H and was/is a great public speaker unlike myself. Watching my sister give her project talks at the meetings, showing her pigs, and even becoming our county Pork Ambassador made me think “I could never do any of that.” Oh boy was I wrong. My mom made me do Little Miss County Pageants along with 4-H. Before I knew it my speech impediment was gone. Getting up in front of a group and talking was not my cup of tea until I realized I could talk about anything. My 4-H and pageant speeches began to revolve around cooking in the kitchen with my mom and working with my dad out in the hog barns. I even became President of my 4-H club, Henry County Pork Ambassador, and Illinois State Pork Ambassador.
Having a such a strong agriculture background, it was a huge surprise to some people when I entered in college as a dietetics major. I always had a passion for nutrition on the human and animal side but for some reason I felt the need to go with something different. In the back of my mind I knew I still wanted to be a part of agriculture, but as a hobby not as a career.
Freshmen year at Western Illinois University was definitely not what I expected it to be. As I walked into my first class of dietetics I suddenly felt like an outsider. The professor asked everyone to say their name, hometown, and a little bit about our background. When it came to my turn everyone turned in their seats and stared at me when I said I live on a farm and raise corn, soybeans, and hogs. Weeks went by and I started to feel a little bit more comfortable but I felt like something wasn’t right. Luckily I had the weekends to go home and work with my show pigs. I finished my freshman year at WIU as a dietetics major. When I went home that summer I worked at a feed mill where I helped make rations for cattle and hog feed. A couple weeks into my summer job and working hard with my show pigs I came to the reality that it was time for a change.
Change never felt better. I sat my family down told them, “When I go back to school this fall I am changing my major to Agriculture.” Overwhelming joy of a big bear hug from my parents made me realize this was what I was meant to do. That summer, not only did I make a huge change in my life, I used my knowledge from my past dietetics class, and being born and raised on the farm, to make a dream come true. A champion. From working at the feed mill, I had endless opportunity to customize my own ration of show pig feed. I may have not won the champion barrow or gilt but to me seeing my work pay off it was much more.
When I joined Western Illinois University School of Agriculture I felt right at home and gained a family.
My name is Morgan Dahl, I am a senior at Western Illinois University with a major in Agriculture Science focused on Animal Science and a minor in Agriculture Economics. I am an active member in many clubs and organizations such as Sigma Alpha, Hoof n Horn, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Ag Mech, and Ag Vocators. I am also a student employee at the University Sheep and Hog Farm. I am from Orion, IL where my family farm is located. I have always had a passion for livestock and continue to pursue a career as a feed salesman/woman.