What showing livestock and farming has taught me by: Erica Harrell

Hello! My name is Erica Harrell and I am from Roseville Illinois. I am currently a junior at Western Illinois University with a major in Ag Business and minor in Animal Science. I have always had a passion for agriculture and would like to talk about some of the things I have been inspired by in the agriculture industry.

Ever since I was a little girl my favorite thing was to be outside on the farm with my family. I was never that into sports when I was younger because all I wanted to do when I was not in school was be outside on the farm. Agriculture has always been my favorite. To be honest, I don’t know where I would be today if I wasn’t involved in agriculture because it has taught me so many different things.

One of the biggest things that showing livestock and farming has taught me is that you can do anything that you put your mind to. If you would have told me when I was younger that I would be competing at national cattle and pig shows and doing very well I wouldn’t have believed you at all. I was that girl that would love to be around the commercial cattle and pigs, but I didn’t want anything to do with the showing part because I didn’t want to be like anyone else in my family and wanted to just do the farming part. At age 9 my mom got my first Angus show heifer named Sophie and I absolutely loved it. From that age until now I have showed a couple each year and the older I got the more competitive I got. When I look back to when I was younger until now I  have learned that anyone can do anything that want to as long as they work at it. You can do things other people do to and still not be like the other person. People can have the same hobbies and attack it at different ways.

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When  I look back to what showing and farming has taught me a big factor of what my mom has always told me is “You get out what you put in”. When she told me that I really thought long and hard how true that is in anything you do in this world. The summer of 2016 is when she told me that. It was my first year going to the World Pork Expo and I was really nervous, but knew that I had put countless hours in the barn and walking the pigs. My York barrow and I had made it to grand drive and I was in shock. It was my first year there and so I wasn’t planning to do that well. We get in grand drive and the judge says on the microphone almost exactly what mom was saying to me “Yes stock shows are about having fun, but in all reality they teach kids what hard work is”. After that moment when they had us stop in the middle of ring to give our hogs a break I thought about how showing really does teach us all work ethic. You can’t be successful if you don’t work at it.  After that my York was selected grand champion overall purebred and I was in shock. When I look back today what my mom said and the judge said on the microphone is 100% related to life. We don’t get things given to us and I am fortunate to have been taught that you have to work hard to be successful.

 

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Two of the biggest things that I’ve learned in farming and showing is independence and teamwork. For example at my age I am now driving an auger cart and also drive the truck and trailer to shows when no one can go with me. I’ve gotten taught as a woman sometimes you have to step up and do some of things on a farm you never though you would do. I’m glad my family has taught me how to do things like driving an auger cart and truck and trailer because I can do things on the farm when there needed to be done. It’s taught me patience and that sometimes you need to slow down and take your time.

To be honest I could talk for days on what living on a farm and showing livestock has taught me, but the skills that I learn and still am learning make me who I am today. I’m so fortunate to be able to have grown up in an agriculture family.IMG_6073

Growing up with agriculture has really made an impact on my life. I am fortunate to have learned what I have and excited to see what the future holds for me.

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Don’t Wait, Study Abroad!

When you think of earning credits towards your degree, do you think of beaches, tourist attractions, and different countries? I never did, but I do now! I had the awesome opportunity to study abroad with my peers from the WIU School of Agriculture to Costa Rica for 10 days. We were able to learn about the different types of agriculture commodities they have in Costa Rica, along with great learning experiences at EARTH University and stay in the dorms where the local students live. It was incredible to see how hard these students work and how hands-on all their work is compared to ours.

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Not only is the Study Abroad program at WIU a fun spring break getaway, but you have an opportunity of a lifetime that you will never be able to get once your out of college. Even if $3,000 sounds like a lot of money, you can’t even begin to imagine how beneficial this is for the rest of your agriculture career. I think it is very important to learn about agriculture in different countries, and this is by far the best way to do just that. During my experience I was able to tour a sugar cane mill, a NASA space shuttle lab, a homestead farm, the University farm, coffee plantation, and so much more. Everything we did was a little different than the last and was so interesting to learn about since we never get to see most of these products in Illinois.

Another part that made it an incredible trip was the bond that our group built throughout the trip. At first we were a little quiet, but by the end we were always joking around and having a great time together. Our tour guides were fun too, so we spent a lot of time with them. Even after we got back from the trip I still talk to most of the people I traveled with on a regular basis, and I even have the opportunity to live with one of my travel partners, Paige!

Paige Skinner is a sophomore studying agriculture science/pre-vet at WIU and was able to go on the study abroad trip to Costa Rica too. Paige and I have known each other since grade school, so being able to share this experience with her was special to me.

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“I really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica learning about how they deal with their livestock. I didn’t expect it to be that different, but now I have that experience to share with people when I got back. It was also really fun to build a relationship with the whole group and hanging out every night after our long day, which we usually included Victor (the travel guide) in on it too!’

My last word of advice for you is to spend the extra cash and study abroad with WIU School of Ag. I promise you will not regret it, and this is something you can cherish and share with others for the rest of your life. Dr. Bacon is the man to talk to at Western Illinois University and he was a great leader for my trip. I hope you can take advantage of the study abroad program and enjoy yourself as much as my group did! Pura Vida!

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Hey guys! My name is Katelyn Muhlenburg and I am a senior studying agriculture business with a minor in finance at Western Illinois University. Throughout my time at WIU I have gained many great relationships with faculty and students, as long as taking on some leadership positions in the School of Ag. I am the President of the Agribusiness Club, a member of the AgVocator team, and I recently joined the agriculture sorority Sigma Alpha. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, bowhunting whitetails, kayaking, and camping. I recently accepted a grain merchandising position with Archer Daniels Midland which will begin in June. Go Leathernecks!

 

All Colleges Should be More Like EARTH University

EARTH University is a well established agricultural college that has two campus’ in Costa Rica, one located in Guacimo, which is close to San Jose, and one in La Flor. EARTH was established by Costa Rican law in 1986 as a private, non-profit, international university and created with the support of the Costa Rican government. EARTH’s innovative educational approach has been preparing young people from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other regions to contribute to the sustainable development of their home communities, all the while constructing a prosperous and just global society. They offer high quality scientific and technological education with an emphasis in ethical entrepreneurship and environmental commitment. Also EARTH has a prestigious international staff with highly qualified professors.

Some statistics about EARTH:

  • Approximately 431 students, from 41 countries
  • 46% are women
  • Approximately 83% are from rural communities
  • 60% of students receive full scholarships with the remaining receiving significant financial aid and/or educational subsidy, empowering promising young leaders from economically underprivileged communities.

 

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Group picture with Victor our tour guide, and Ronald our driver.

This past spring, I went on a study abroad trip with Western Illinois University to Costa Rica. On this trip we were exposed to Costa Rica’s culture, history, and their agricultural industry. A large portion of our time there was spent at EARTH University. We stayed on campus for most of our nights in the country, ate many meals there, and were able to learn about Costa Rica’s agriculture and the university itself. Also we were able to mingle with the students in both social and educational aspects.

A requirement of the University is that every student and teacher must be able to speak at least Spanish and English, which results in many of the students knowing several languages. If a student doesn’t know Spanish or English there is a program they must take at EARTH were they can learn before they start their studies. While there, one of the most popular questions I was asked was, “How many languages do you speak?” It was extremely eye opening for me to realize just how common it was for people outside of the United State to know multiple languages. One young man I talked to from Africa knew five languages and 15 dialects of a certain language!

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Learning about hydroponics from a 3rd year student from Africa.

The students have school 6 says a week, whether that be spent in the classroom or with work experience where they will work for a certain sector of the school farm. The students at EARTH learn about animal, plant, and soil sciences as well as agribusiness. Some of the first things that students will learn when they get to EARTH, besides the required languages, is how to operate a tractor and ride a horse.

Courses at this university are more focused on lab and hands on activities than just in the classroom. For the student’s second year they must design an entrepreneurship related to agriculture, where the school will loan them the money to get it started. The students have one year to develop and perform their business, and must earn at least enough money to pay back their loan. If they earn more than what their loan was for, they get to pocket the money. If they cannot pay back their loan and their entrepreneurship was unsuccessful, they can no longer continue their studies at EARTH.Students’ first and third year at EARTH are based on classroom learning of technical and scientific knowledge, personal development, attitudes, values, and social and environmental awareness/commitment. For their second year they form a realistic mock business and their fourth year is for their international internship, which most take place in the United States. The internships must be related to agriculture and take place outside of their home country but have no other real restrictive guidelines.

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Different stages of the composting process at the university.

EARTH prides itself by being 80% sustainable. A large majority of the food from the cafeteria: dairy, meat, vegetables, and other proteins comes from the school farm. For example, the food waste from the cafeteria is used to feed the pigs or go into compost. The animals at the school provide meat, dairy, and protein for the students, faculty, and visitors at the University. The waste from the animals will go into compost and the compost will be used to fertilize the crops grown at the farm. Also some of the animal waste will go into bio-converters to produce some of the power used by the campus. The crops at the farm are used in the cafeteria and to feed the livestock. All remaining crops are contracted out and the profit goes back to the school to use towards maintenance, scholarships, etc.

EARTH’s entire goal is to educate their students about agriculture, ethics, professionalism, and sustainability, so that they can go back to their counties/communities and share this knowledge and these practices there. The University has high standards and expectations for their students, but is sure to provide them with the proper education and skill set to succeed. All colleges should have some, if not all, of the attributes that EARTH has. Emphasizing sustainability, a hard work ethic, high standards that are achievable, and the desire to take what you have and improve it for not only yourself, but for your community and environment.

About the Author:

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Hello all! My name is Maggie Eberley, and I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture with an emphasis in Business and a minor in Agronomy. I grew up in central Illinois on a small row crop and livestock farm. My passion for agriculture started from being raised on a farm, and continued to grow my passion by being apart of the 4-H and FFA organizations, as well as taking courses throughout high school and college. After graduation I hope to attain a career in the finance/lending side of the agriculture industry as well as start a family of my own.

I Wasn’t Raised On A Farm But. . .

I wasn’t raised on a farm, but that hasn’t stopped me from achieving knowledge in the agriculture industry.

You see, I was raised in Monmouth, IL. A city that is made up of approximately 10,000 people. Although it’s surrounded by corn and soybean fields, I was completely oblivious to agriculture when I was growing up. Looking back at how ignorant I was to the agriculture industry as a whole truly opened my eyes.

My first experience with this great industry, was when I was introduced to the world of showing livestock. Although I had a late start in the game, beginning at age 14, it never hindered my experiences or successes. I quickly caught on to feed rations, animal handling, show etiquette, and the whole nine yards. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was challenged to compete in showmanship. For most, this wasn’t scary. They’ve been showing their whole life, why would this be a hard task? Just like anything else, I dove in head first and told myself ‘the worst thing that could happen is I get last .. right?
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WRONG! Within 5 minutes in the show ring, the judge began asking us questions. I’m sure you can picture the look on my face.. Priceless. After waiting the longest 3 minutes of my life, the judge finally approached me. He asked a simple question, but I always seem to over think things and make them worse than they actually are. I paused for a minute and began to digest the question, “if you had to choose one issue the Boer Goat industry is facing, what would it be?” A million things came to mind, but only one thing came out of my mouth. “Communication.” It hit me in that moment that the biggest challenge the livestock industry is facing is communication. Not just in the goat industry, not just cattle or swine. As a whole, communication is lacking and it could be the solution  to so much.

Once I had ‘mastered’ the show ring, I moved on to other challenges. The summer was coming to a close and my Sophomore year of high school was about to start. We were on our way home from a livestock show when Chris and Linda (my mentors in the livestock industry) talked to me about joining FFA. I wasn’t quite sure what FFA entailed or where I would fit in.. but Linda isn’t the type to take “no” as an answer. Before I knew it, I was shaking the hand of the agriculture educator and FFA advisor of Monmouth-Roseville’s chapter. I introduced myself to Mr. Kilburn, and explained that I had a new found passion in agriculture and I loved to talk (surprise, right?). He told me he’d find a place for me and he couldn’t wait to see me in class. Little did I know that hand shake would open so many doors for me.

Within the first few weeks of class, we had learned about record books. I was starting to question what in the heck Chris and Linda signed me up for. Just when I was questioning if I truly belonged, I signed up for my first public speaking contest. Naturally, I chose the topic of Animal Welfare. This was the largest misconception I knew of, and I was so passionate about it I knew I wouldn’t have any issues talking their ears off. I left that contest feeling empowered and confident, and all I knew was I wouldn’t find these opportunities anywhere else. I began enrolling in every contest our chapter participated in. Public speaking, parliamentary procedure, livestock judging etc. I was taking in every little bit of knowledge, and the more I learned the more I realized this industry wasn’t as corrupt or portrayed as everybody makes it out to be.

Hard work, knowledge, and motivation paid off and I eventually received my State FFA Degree and my American FFA Degree.

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Just as everything else had successfully fallen into place, I decided to choose Western Illinois University. Being as I found a strong passion for agriculture, and I knew the importance of communicating knowledge, I felt it was only right to study Agriculture Education. Most find it rather ironic and unique that somebody without an agriculture background would be intrigued to teach agriculture someday. However, I know it was what I was born to do and I wouldn’t be guided on this journey it I wasn’t meant for it.

I knew the consumer side, and I now came to educate myself on the production side of things. You would be amazed how much easier it is for me to communicate to consumers and those who have a lack of knowledge in agriculture. I came from that side of the fence, and I understand their concerns. I know I am apart of a large solution to the misconceptions, and Western has helped me notice that.

Within my studies, I have learned how to communicate with all sorts of consumers. I now know that knowledge and experience is key, and whether we have either of those or not, we are all still human at the end of the day. We all have different beliefs, passions, and motivation. If we didn’t, the world would be bland and we’d never learn anything new or gain new opportunities. The agriculture industry is very diverse, which makes sense, because the world is composed of agriculture wether you like to admit it or not.

Farmers are open to communicating if you’re open to listen. More often than not, the knowledge and answers you’ve been pondering have been in front of you the whole time. It’s all up to you to gain the correct knowledge, and you would be amazed where it will take you. The agriculture industry is filled with endless possibilities, and I am living proof of that. You don’t have to be raised on a farm to understand the practices and measures being taken every day by farmers and livestock caretakers. At the end of the day, we all want to live in a safe and efficient environment.

Just don’t be afraid to communicate. You never know what you’ll learn.

 

 

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My name is Morgan Lemley and I am a junior at Western Illinois University from Monmouth, IL. I am studying Agriculture Education, and I look forward to inspiring young minds and educating them on the field of agriculture. I hope you enjoyed my blog!

Work, School, Agriculture: Goal Driven.

So many students work during the year while taking a full schedule of classes and trying to achieve their goals. Why would I be any different? My name is Kassidy Quinn and I am a Junior at Western Illinois University. I am studying Agriculture Science with a minor in Animal Science. I’m still not 100% sure what direction I want to go once I graduate, but my options are apply and attend the University of Illinois to study Meat Science or to get a job as a Veterinary Technician at a vets office in Illinois or in Tennessee.

Meat science and a veterinary technician are two very opposite things, but two very needed positions at the same time. Currently, I am employed at Monmouth Small Animal Hospital. I have been working there since the beginning of 2014. I started out just being a kennel assistant and worked my way up to working as a vet tech assistant, receptionist, kennel assistant and janitor. I work as early as 4:30 some mornings and will work to as late at 11:30 some nights. Yep, you read that right! Some nights I don’t leave until 11:30 pm and still have to go home and work on homework. I work a full 40 hour week while going to school taking 20 credit hours.  It can get very stressful some days, but I have found a balance and work my way through it. My goal within my employment is to acquire a important knowledge to help ensure the health of companion animals, while also attending school to learn about livestock species and broaden that knowledge.

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Senior photo taken by Shyvel’s. Monmouth, Illinois.

I also mentioned Meat Science as a goal or career option. Many people don’t realize that meat science exists or that people go to grad school for meat science. I started out my college career at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. While there, we had to take a meat science class for my animal science requirement. The meat science class started out with our professor giving us three different types of hot dogs to eat and we had to decide which hot dog tasted better and why. It was quite intriguing. After we did our taste test, we walked through the locker on campus and discussed the different cuts and grades of meat and I just found it so interesting. That is where my love for meat science came from.

Now, you may be wondering how this all ties into my studies at Western. Well, my life completely changed when I started at Western. I had always known I wanted to have a career in agriculture in some way. I grew up going to both grandparents’ houses and completing chores with my cousins. My grandparents had pigs and field crops. I always preferred to be out on the farm where life was stress-free. Ever since I was little and out on the farm, I always had a love for broadening my knowledge on field crops and the family’s hog operation.

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Family Photo taken my family member. November 2016.

I remember getting up early some mornings to help my grandpa and uncle out at the farrowing house. Besides hogs, there was always a dog wherever I went. Between livestock and companion animals, I knew I had to incorporate that into my career. Like mentioned before, my only issue with college is that I don’t know which direction I should go for a career.  I am taking other classes such as agronomy and forestry and enjoying them, which I never thought I would. I am only a junior, my goal paths can still change and they most likely will, but my end result goals will not.  My advice to those who aren’t sure what exactly they want to do within the agriculture industry, take different agriculture science classes. There is bound to be a subject you learn about or discover that just lights a spark and who knows, maybe that is what you’ll decide you want to do as a career! Western gives you that opportunity to branch in all directions and learn so many new things.

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Image taken in farrowing house at the family farm.

Having goals is the most important thing you can do when you start college. You want to explore and find a path to follow to help you achieve that goal. Paths will fluctuate, but the goals behind them won’t. The strive for success will always be behind those goals. My grandpa always told me,  “Agriculture is ten thousand goals in itself. Find one you’re interested in and never let it out of sight.”

Sigma Alpha: Not your typical sorority

 

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Prior to coming to Western Illinois University to further my education, I always had told myself, “I would never join a sorority.” I had thought that sorority girls were nothing but a bunch of rich girls who always had to wear a new outfit to go out or that they bought their friendships. However, I am now a sorority girl and the thoughts I had about Greek life were wrong.

Sigma Alpha, the Professional Agriculture Sorority, is the sorority I chose to get involved in at Western. Sigma Alpha is a sorority of girls who share the same interest and love for agriculture. The best way to describe Sigma Alpha is to look at it’s objective:

“The objective of Sigma Alpha shall be to promote its members in all facets of agriculture and to strengthen the bonds of friendship among them. It is the purpose of the members to strive for achievement in scholarship, leadership, and service, and to further the development of excellence in women pursuing careers in agriculture.”

But why choose Sigma Alpha? Through my experience, automatically meeting over 20 girls who would all end up so close in your MC (membership candidate) class made you feel like you were back in kindergarten where everyone wanted to be friends with everyone. Getting your Sigma Alpha “mom” and finding out that that one person would soon be a friend and just a call away when needed. Getting to meet the active girls and only hoping the MC process would speed up to be able to get your first stitched letters. Within those 6 weeks of the process you learn about Sigma Alpha and learn to appreciate the organization as a whole.

A few words from our current President, Elizabeth Miller, “My experience within Sigma Alpha has truly been such an eye opening and rewarding experience that I think every girl should have at least once in their lives. I’ve watched the sorority as a whole change and adapt to the times as well as the girls within our local chapter change. Just because it’s a professional agriculture sorority doesn’t mean you grew up on a farm or both of your parents are in agriculture, or it doesn’t even have to mean to have declared agriculture as a major. You just simply need to want to grow within a sisterhood that supports and has similar morals to those agriculturalists in society. And because of those beliefs within the sorority, I was able to find my “home.”  A piece of advice I’ve been giving to all our new members is this; whether it’s within Sigma Alpha or in another organization, be sure to get involved within the leadership roles of the organization you choose.”

 

     Sigma Alpha gave me sisters I don’t ever want to lose contact with, and with the bond we have through sisterhood I don’t think I ever will. So when looking into sororities, think about Sigma Alpha. It will be the best decision you will never regret. I know it was for me.

    Hello, my name is Breann Knapp and I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University studying agriculture business, with a minor in marketing. I am from Ashland Illinois, a town of about 1,200 people with farming being a huge part of the community. At Western I am involved in many clubs through the school of Ag; Sigma Alpha (sisterhood chair), Ag Vocator Team, Collegiate Farm Bureau (treasurer),and Hoof n Horn Club.

Preach What You Practice: The Importance of Being Agriculturally Literate

So what if I told you that getting a degree and accepting a full time position wasn’t enough? Or maybe that you needed to do a little bit more than own and operate a farm, because that’s so easy, right?

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but hear me out.

Growing up, agriculture was a large part of my life. I was raised by a farmer, it was almost promised that at least one of my friends parent’s were connected to the industry,  and I went to a high school where 90% of the enrollment were members of the FFA. I have always thought of farmers as heroes, and assumed that everyone else did too.

Then I came to college. During my three years here, I have found myself struggling at understanding how unconnected some people are to agriculture. (I mean c’mon people, this town is surrounded by thousands of acres of corn and soybeans.) But as time continued, I realized that some of these people don’t know that the fields they pass are filled with crops that people build a lifestyle off of, and that those crops are then turned into the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or multiple different products that you use on a daily basis. They have never actually seen a cow, hog, or sheep. They have only seen pictures of them posted on social media accounts. And not only pictures, but pictures that misrepresent the industry that employs 17% of the nation’s population. And because of this and numerous other factors, the agriculture industry has found themselves as hot topics of controversial debates in environmental, nutritional, and welfare issues.

This May, I will be able to say that I have successfully completed a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, but it shouldn’t stop there. Because even though it’s cool to say that I have learned how to mock design a plant breeding program, written a 10 page paper on the effects of White Mold, and preg checked a heifer carrying its calf,  that’s not going to make someone feel better about the large airplane flying over their house, spraying chemicals on the cornfield next to them, or someone worried about the presence of antibiotics in their meat. It does, however, make it easier to have these conversations, because you have more education to back you up. But as stated by Dr. Gruver, an agronomy professor who finds importance in gaining agriculture literacy, “education in an academic setting is valuable but is a very small part of one’s education (even for academics like myself who spent ~ 20 years in school!)”.

In order to educate the uneducated, and to be able to hold professional conversations with the people who are totally against us, I think there are a few things that those inside of the industry can do to help themselves become more agriculturally literate. Dr. Gruver also mentions “the foundation of agriculture literacy is curiosity… its not so much how much you know about agriculture at any one time but rather how you respond when you see an agriculture related headline, hear someone talking about agriculture, observe an unfamiliar farm implement or practice when driving down the road, notice an agriculture related post on-line, or look at a new item in the grocery store”.

Always stay in the loop

Do your best at keeping up to date with what’s going on in the industry: new technology, new innovations, current issues, etc. Read new blogs, watch more Ted talks, and take advantage of free conferences. This will not only bring more information into the type of farming you practice, but also open your mind to new possibilities and show you the new things that they may have to offer. Try to get information from both private and public sectors of the industry; this will give you the advantage of weighing your options before you commit to something new. Also find out information on what people outside of the industry are thinking. For example, a large number of society believes that there are antibiotics in our meat. However, they think this because they are not made aware of withdrawal periods. My point being, if you find out why they think the way they do, it will help you approach the situation and conversation in a much more positive manner. If you conduct the conversation using factual details, you will probably get more accomplished than just simply explaining that you farm for a living,and don’t agree with their comments.

Remain open minded

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Herndon Harvest 2016

 I’ll be the first one to admit, I am pretty stuck in my ways. I would rather not be susceptible to change if I didn’t have to be. (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right??) However, you’ll find that the agriculture industry now-a-days is constantly trying new things, and the practices that you’ve watched your father do, who has watched his father do, might actually be outdated. These new things could range anywhere from new seed innovations to more regulations or  precision technology to environmental practices. Because of this, agriculturalists are forced to keep an open mind to the possibilities. I challenge you to do this with outsider beliefs too. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was raised inner city,  who doesn’t understand the process of their food getting to the grocery store shelves. From there, understand that these people believe the first thing they hear or see from the media, simply because they haven’t ever been given any other information to doubt it. With that being said, if you ever come in contact with someone like this, use that as an opportunity to change their minds! (College kids, i’m talking to you!)

Do something new 

Always try something different while in the industry. If you are focused on the agronomy side of things, try reading more articles on animal science. If you are more involved in the production of things, try to understand more of the research that goes into it. This will further your knowledge and help you understand a wider range of progressing ideas happening in the industry. This will make it apparent that you are involved in the industry, gaining respect from outsiders. Dr Gruver stated “in my opinion, agriculture literacy is NOT “familiarity with a basic set of agriculture concepts” but rather is a process of striving to better understand agriculture every day”. In order to do this, we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we’ve never done before.

Communicate and advocate 

Always talk about the new information you are learning. Communicate it to your agriculture friends and communicate it to your non-agriculture friends. Have conversations with multiple farmers and get their input on the topic. Always advocate the positive things happening in our industry. Don’t be afraid to address false information with factual data to back you up. Talk about your personal experiences in the agriculture industry, and how it has undoubtedly affected you positively. Invite them to agriculture places or events. Give them tours of your farm, so they can see exactly how majority of farms are operated. Use your social media outlets immensely to give accurate information to a large number of people. PETA, HSUS, and Food Babe, 3 top anti-agriculture groups, all use social media intensely as a foyer in their marketing campaigns. According to America Press Institute, 51% of Americans receive their daily news from a social media account. Do you see the problem?

In order to further educate people outside of the agricultural industry, we have to be permit the further education of our own experiences and communication tactics. With these things, I hope that maybe just a few more people are capable of successfully sharing how agriculture has shaped their life, just as it has mine.

About the Author

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Hello beautiful people! My name is Jessica Herndon and I am a senior at Western Illinois University, majoring in Ag Science and double minoring in agronomy and animal science. I have an undeniable passion for advocating agriculture, which is one reason why I serve as WIU’s Ag Vocator Team chancellor. I am an opportunist, a lover of ice cream, a ted talk enthusiast, and my dad’s best friend.