Have you ever felt like your purpose in life was gone? After quitting my job of 4 years at a nursing home in my home town, I felt as if my purpose was gone. My job there was as an activity aid and it was my pride and joy working with residents. I would call bingo, I would paint the ladies nails, I would make the new residents feel at home, but my favorite part was visiting with them and getting to know them and making their day. After I lost that when I quit, I had to find a new way to fill that void. I did that by starting a group called Friends of Farmers.
Agriculture is part of me and I wanted to show my local farmers how much we thank them for all the hard work they do. The long days and night they put in so we can have food on the table. This idea came up at 2 a.m. with my roommate when we were talking about how much I struggled with that sense of loss. I guess you can say some of the best ideas come at weird times, because this one did. It all started out as talk, then I put those ideas and thought into action.
The main thing I wanted to do was to go around to the local farmers and pass out treats in the afternoon. I know when the afternoon hits they all need a little pick-me-up to keep the day flowing. So with that goal in mind, that is what I did. I made three batches of cookies, I put together a mix with M&M, peanuts and candy corn, water, and apples that were donated by Tanner’s Orchard in Speer, Illinois. I made tags to go on the bags of treats with the Friends of Farmers logo and a quote from Thomas Jefferson, that says “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” I chose this quote because it has a lot of meaning behind what farmers do everyday. Growing up on a farm I can say that I have gained a lot of happiness and good morals. Agriculture is the future and we need to invest in the future. I wanted to put my logo on something so that the farmers would know that I was starting this organization and that I wanted to keep it going. That I was invested in showing them my appreciation, so I made stickers for the little notes that I hand wrote, for a personal touch, and attached them to the baggies with treats in them.
The second thing I thought about was, how in the world am I going to pay for all of this? I am a broke college girl, with no money, but I really want to do this! My mom did do a lot of donating with supplies for the mix and cookies, but how was I going to pay for the water and something to put the mix and cookies in? That when I thought I should make t-shirts and try and sell them. So that is what I did, I made t-shirts with my logo on it and the Thomas Jefferson saying on the back. I Posted it on Facebook and asked family members if they wanted to buy a shirt to help support me in my cause. I sold a total of 32 shirts within a couple weeks. With the all the shirts I sold and the profit I made off of them I had enough money to buy all the supplies with extra money for next year. That money is in a tin can for next year.
My next thought was that I wanted to do was inform the younger generation on what farmers do and what agriculture is. Yes, I have grown up in a rural community, but not everyone knows where their food comes, and how it gets to their table. So the next thing I needed to think about was who can I get to help hand out these treats. I babysit a couple of young kids and my family from Minnesota was down and there are two young boys there. So I thought I would take four kids with me the first time and see where it got me. I then thought of a plan on how I was going to educate them on agriculture. So, after every stop we talked about something new. One question I asked was do you guys know where your milk comes from? I didn’t want all the questions to be all about grain operations, because not all of our food comes from corn and soybeans.
I had some positive and negative feedback. I will start with the bad, we stopped at one farmers field where they were sitting taking a break for the day. I thought this will be perfect, well it ended in some rude comments from the farmer, and some kids scared. How do you tell kids that not all farmers are that way. It was tough, but you tell them the next one will be much better. Now to the good, all but that one farmer all were surprised and thanked me and the kids right back. I think the best one was when I had a former teacher tell me that, one of the farmers was at a church function with her telling everyone how he loved how I did it and that it was so nice and that water was just what he needed. The next was when a former classmate messaged me later after we stopped at the field where he was and said thank you so much for the treats, they were great and it made my day. All the feedback I got made me want to keep doing this every year. The kids’ reactions to this day also keeps me wanting to do this. They all told me they had a lot of fun and thanked me for taking them along. I think their favorite part was when we were at a farm and they were handing out the snacks and the farmer was unloading and we handed him snack for all of the people that were out in the field with him. He let them get in the straight truck and honk the horn, they were all grinning from ear to ear. It was a fun experience for both them, me and the famer.
My next year’s goals are to get more kids to get involved and learn about agriculture. I was at another community service event that my community puts on during Christmas and I talked to the local Girl Scout’s leader. I told her what I was doing and how I wanted to get kids involved. I asked if they could get a badge for doing this and she said “of course they can get a badge for anything.” She gave me her contact information so I can get ahold of her when the time comes. I am really excited for next year to get kids involved, even more excited about getting young girls involved as women in ag are becoming more and more prominent.
The next thing I want to do is go into the Farm Bureau and the local extension office to get more teaching ideas for kids. Being in FFA and doing Ag in the Classroom, I know they have techniques to use for younger kids. I want to take some of that information with me to some of the Girl Scout meeting to teach them about agriculture. Getting ideas from them will help me better to teach them about agriculture in a simple manner that they will understand because they are of all ages in Girl Scouts.
I have some big plans for next year and I can’t wait to see them through. I am finding some new ideas besides selling t-shirts for a fundraiser, to raise money for next year. My last and final thought to put in here is if you have any questions or want to start something like this in your home town, do not hesitate to get ahold of me. My email is: email@example.com. Even if you have more ideas for me please share, I am always open to new ideas of doing things and bettering my organization!
If you are wanting to start your own organization in your home town here are some things to think about: reach out to your community for help, there is always someone to help you. Think of ways to raise money for supplies. Map out your stops before you go, this will make the trip go smoother. I wouldn’t take more than four kids with you at a time as they can be a handful at times.
Name: Abrianne Holler
School email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I am Abrianne Holler. I am a junior at Western Illinois University. I am studying agriculture science with minor in Agronomy. I’m from Henry, Illinois and have had the opportunity to grow up on a small family farm. That is where I get most of my interest in agronomy. I look forward to a career in the agronomy field with hopes of having my own farm someday, as well as helping and bringing new ideas to the family farm. I thank you for taking the time to read through my blog, and I hope it provided some sort of value to you!