Opportunity Knocks, I Get Nervous

Amazing opportunities are knocking at my door. This weeked I travel to New Mexico and on Monday I have the opportunity to speak to elementary, middle, and high school youth, FFA members, and their parents about Agriculture. I’m not that nervous about talking. Get me started talking about what I do everyday, and you have to put me on a stopwatch. It’s the speaking to so many levels in one day that makes me nervous…

I decided a while back that I would love to start speaking with groups about Agriculture, using my theme “Agriculture Proud” as a starting point. I think it’s a message many would soak in with enthusiasm. My theme for the FFA banquet is “Build Your Own Future.” So I’m gonna spew some thoughts here. Please leave any thoughts or comments. I’m looking for a sounding board.

There are so many great opportunities to build a future within Agriculture. Those of us within Agriculture realize these opportunties, but what about everyone else?

Having pride in what you do for a living is one thing. There is no doubt I am proud to be a part of Agriculture. But it’s more about having a passion for your line of work. How do you find that passion and how can you seek out a job that you will enjoy?

Agriculture is a huge part of this nation’s economy. Not only in farming and ranching areas, but also food processing, transport, and marketing. How can we better connect American consumers with origins of their food and recognized those involved in the whole process?

Can you name your state’s top five Agriculture commodities? Where do those products end up? Isn’t this something we should at least be aware of?

I go to the restaurant to get a burger. How many farmers or ranchers should I thank for this food on my plate?

Please share your thoughts on these topics. It’ll help me spur the ideas turning in my mind.


  1. That is the problem making the industry more assessable to the masses. I think FFA an 4H are perfect ways to get kids involved thinking agricultural an how it pertains to them in their lives. This also leads into the second question you posed about finding a job that your passionate about. If kids get involved at a young age it will give them chances to experience different things early before they have to start making the tough choices about their careers. Michigan State has this event during the summer for kids in 4H to explore different careers an jobs for a week. They live on campus an go to classes an learn about different aspects of a certain subject they choose. They explore different things an maybe have an idea with what they wanna do with their future.

    Education of children at a young age. The saddest thing i have seen in my life is a kid walking up to a calf an calling it a dog then asking what kind of dog it is. Ignorance is not bliss!

    Michigan's top five are dairy, nurseries/greenhouses, grain corn, soybean an cattle. I don't know for sure where everything ends up.

  2. “Our weakness [as a culture] is a constipation of imagination.” -Joel Salatin

    One of my personal peeves with agricultural education is the narrowly defined priorities. I loved FFA, but because I raised a herd of cattle instead of showing pigs, there was a disconnect. The animal husbandry aspect is great, but how can we try to show that there are careers in ag when our projects spend way more money than they bring in?
    During a class tour of the OK Stockyards, a typical show brat had the nerve to complain to the head of the Stockyards that he should get more for his show calf. It entertained me greatly that the Stockyards head told him that he shouldn't have spent five grand on a steer in the first place! But this was a college senior, raised on apple pie and the FFA!
    My HS chapter stepped it up after I left, adding a horticulture program among other things, which I thought was pretty cool.
    I know this is another typical rant of mine, but I really did love the FFA. My FFA teacher is now my bank's loan officer, so I'm connected to it every day.
    Looking back, I wish that ag ed had spent some more time on the fringe instead of sending everyone off to buy expensive show pigs.

    Think about that NM cattleman in 'Deeply Rooted', what would he like to say to the people in his community? You've got the chance to plant some seeds and inspire this weekend, and I know you'll do great. Enjoy your drive through the desert, it now starts at I-35…

  3. I have been an active and collegiat FFA member for five years and now a Georgia FFA Alumni Assoc. member. I greatly enjoyed hearing these types of speeches about ag, after all I am in college for animal science so it was good hearing about this field. The hook in all of the speeches were the personal stories intertwined with the facts. I like how you relate the beef patty from a resturant to make it more relatable to the students; but, stories and even pictures get them (and me, too.) You could ask the schools if the have promethean borads or other forms of showing pictures, use a laptop or a jumpdrive with a selection of pictures. No graphs, please. You have a great base to build on, I only hope this comment helps. If you have any questions just visit my blog Red Dirt Memories.

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