Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today's Youth = Tomorrow's Producers

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to a livestock show with a friend in Cullman Co., Alabama! While I was there, I met up with an old buddy of mine that I livestock judged with in junior college. It had been about a year and a half since I had seen Ethan so I it was past due time to catch up! He showed me around the fair and I saw everything from gigantic watermelons to cattle and local kids taking in the exhibits.  I noticed that there were many local kids roaming around looking at the gigantic watermelon and pumpkin display and even petting the cattle. The county fair is a great place for kids who aren't familiar with agriculture to learn about crops and livestock.  I always enjoy seeing this and think that it's critical we keep programs like 4-H and FFA up and going.

 Ethan with the giant pumpkin display...I made him take a picture for the blog!

Growing up I was very involved in 4-H. Starting at the age of 5, I began showing sheep and entering cakes in the open class foods contest.  The first year I brought a cake to the fair, I entered my Granny's chocolate cake recipe.  In open class, all the age groups compete against each other. I won grand champion with Granny's cake and I was SO excited...the older ladies weren't very impressed that they got beat by a five year old! Boy was I proud though.  As I got older, I learned how to sew and started showing calves.  At the time it seemed like I worked and worked and when I would get frustrated I didn't understand what I was gaining. Looking back, all those experiences are priceless.  Through  all those experiences, trials, and successes, I learned valuable skills like responsibility, leadership and developed a good work ethic. I also increased my knowledge about agriculture and became eager to share my story with those who may not be in touch with agriculture.

Once I arrived at KSU, I found the Collegiate CattleWomen club. This opened up a whole new world of opportunity. I was able to network with producers from across the country, broadening my horizons about agriculture and for the first time fully understanding how incredibly critical connecting with consumers is. The future of our industry lies in the consumers hands and I firmly believe as producers, it is our responsibility to help educate others by sharing out stories.

Now that I have rambled for a few paragraphs, what does all this have to do with visiting the Cullman Co. Fair? Those youngsters in the show ring are the next generation that will be responsible for telling their story. It's important that we set a good example and do our part bridging the gap between production agriculture and the consumer.  How do we do this? We can do this through mentoring those young 4-H and FFA members.  Encourage them to give presentations about their experiences to groups, write guest blog posts for producers, share what they are doing with their classrooms at school.
It made me really happy to see the kids walking around the fair that were maybe petting a calf, seeing a giant watermelon, or a soybean plant for the first time. This is a good start!

Some local kiddos taking in the watermelons...




Peppers! My favorite....I love all the bright colors!

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