I was in the milking parlor at 4 this morning, taking care of all the cows, cleaning udders, and attaching the milkers when the boss said I caught on to the milking routine quickly. My response? “Ok, I’ll slow down.” I have no problem starting my day at 3 a.m. but those early starts make for some long days.

It is Thanksgiving Day where we look back at the gathering of the Pilgrims and Indians we all read about in elementary school. These folks were giving thanks for a bountiful harvest in the new land. This holiday has its roots in being grateful for the land and those things we receive from it. I want to take a moment and reflect on why I am Thankful for Agriculture.

Caught a rainbow in the pens

Diversity – During the past year, I have gained a stronger appreciation for the diversity of Agriculture. I moved from Texas, back to Arkansas, and most recently to Tennessee. I have traveled to New Mexico, Colorado, and Tennessee sharing my experiences in cattle production, and visiting with many other farmers and ranchers. No matter where I go, members of the Agriculture community have been welcoming and generous with answers to my questions. We all have the same job (producing food) yet we all go about the process differently. Some have more diversified operations, while others like to stick to their routine that has been established for many years. In the scheme of things, we all have the same passion for our land and livestock.

Community – This year I made many new connections via social media and in real life. I have such an awesome online network of farmers and ranchers from across the globe. I learn daily about different production methods and approaches. In August, many of these relationships became more concrete at the AgChat Conference in Nashville. It is pretty cool to walk into a room with 100+ farmers from across the U.S. and Canada, meet them in person for the first time, and strike up a conversation as if we had known each other for ages. That same month I attended the Arkansas Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference. It was inspiring and motivating to be in the same room with so many peers, knowing that we shared the same passion and motivation as the next generation of Agriculture.

Education – If there is one thing I experienced this year, which I am thankful for learning earlier in life, it is that there is no one way of doing things. (Although, some people like to think otherwise and like to stick to their routines) Even though I have spent all 23 years of my life raising cattle, handling and working with them in 7 different states, there is something new to learn around every corner. That is exciting for me. Even though I am starting graduate school and will be working in the lab and the classroom, I will always value hands-on (sometimes hands-in) learning experiences. There is nothing like getting your hands dirty and learning something new about a subject I am so passionate about.

These are just a few of the many, many things learned over the past year, and I am so thankful to have these experiences. I look forward to the years and new opportunities ahead of me.

Remember to give thanks for your food as you sit at the table surrounded by family and friends today. Give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who produced it and all those who helped harvest, transport, and prepare it for your homes. Why are you Thankful for Agriculture?