For Amber Waves of Grain: lessons learned from agriculture in 3 different states
Someone once looked at a bunch of numbers and determined that the average person in the United States will move 11.5 times. Just as a young adult, I’ve resided in 12 different towns within 3 different states.
My diversity of address has given me an appreciation for the beauty of our nation. Like Katherine Lee Bates, lyricists of “America the Beautiful”, I am always in awe of “purple mountain’s majesty”. However, it is the farmers and ranchers growing the “amber waves of grain” that have continually fascinated me as I moved from state to state.
My growing up years were nurtured by small town Midwest values. The standard uniform was overalls and the local co-op’s ballcap. Everyone, even that one kid with the lip-ring was involved with FFA. My nearest neighbors were our cows.
Missouri agriculture taught me about community. Everyone prayed for rain at the end of Sunday morning service. If you helped your neighbor bale hay one week, he helped you work cows the next. The Midwest also taught me how to hope amid a storm. I watched a community weather tornadoes, floods, droughts and snowstorms. It was hope that kept people sane while crops dried up and livestock died. The knowledge that spring always follows the coldest winters has stayed with me no matter my where I have lived.
My high school and young adult years were spent in a suburb of Houston, Texas. While I traded in dirt roads for traffic jams, I maintained my ties to agriculture through 4-H and FFA. My time in the Lone Star State taught me about the power of diversity and being proud of your product.
Moving from a small town to a suburb of the fourth largest city in the U.S. exposed me to a wide variety of people with different backgrounds, lifestyles and ways of thinking. Texas sets precedents in agricultural research and innovation and I firmly believe it is due to the variety of people brought together through collaboration. There is also a sense of pride that radiates through the state. Weather it is branded beef programs, farmers markets or local partnerships with grocery stores, Texans are excited to buy Texas products. Crafting a product your neighbors would be proud to purchase is a concept transferable to whatever state you reside in.
My current post-graduate mailing address is in the state of Arizona. My brief time in the desert has already rendered valuable lessons about resilience. For centuries ranchers have scratched out a living from the valley and the mountains, finding success in what can be described as an unforgiving landscape. The spirit of determination that radiates from the land motivates me as I pursue my goals in my next stage of life.
Despite the changes in life and scenery, the lessons learned from local agriculturalists will stay with me from “sea to shining sea”.