Being An Agriculture Student Who Didn't Grow Up On A Farm

Being An Agriculture Student Who Didn't Grow Up On A Farm

I'm sure we've all been there. A new club call out means another embarrassing icebreaker. A common one seems to be "two truths and a lie," so I have three statements about myself memorized for these occasions. 

"I am an only child, I have never traveled outside of the country and I was raised on a small farm in Indiana." 

It is absolutely crazy how many people think I've never been outside of the United States. Just because I have an agriculture major, doesn't mean I grew up harvesting soybeans with my grandpa. Not all of us have that luxury!

I wasn't fully introduced to the agriculture industry until I began showing cattle in high school. However, I picked up that blue show stick and showed in my first county fair like I was meant to from the start. I completely fell in love with agriculture and the beef industry, so now I am majoring in Agricultural Communication and I can't imagine being anywhere else. 

Like most 4-Hers, I was upset when my last county fair came to a close. However, I was more upset than most as I drove away from the fairgrounds. I knew that I wouldn't be able to look out the window the next morning to see my show heifer grazing in the pasture. Unlike many of my peers, I never woke up early to do farm chores or enjoy the country life. The point is, I brought my mostly non-ag background to college with me, and sometimes it shows.

There are days when I probably sound like that annoying kid whose response to everything is "why?" or "how does that work?" I can talk to you all day about beef cattle, but if you start asking me about the best seed varieties, the conversation will be over. There are definitely times that I question my ability to work in this industry. How am I going to become a successful communicator if I can't fluently discuss pesticides and antibiotics? Sometimes it feels like I am trying to learn a foreign language. 

But in the end, it doesn't matter that I don't know how to drive a tractor and I had never been in one until my senior year. I rode in that Case IH like I was taking a victory lap! At least I went to a school that had a "Drive Your Tractor to School Day," right? I am taking classes just like everyone else in order to reach my goals. I just may have to study a little harder.

The great thing about my agriculture classes and the Purdue College of Agriculture is that my classmates who did grow up with a traditional ag background are more than willing to help me understand what is going on. If the professor says a phrase I don't quite catch (even though it should be "common knowledge") I can ask the person next to me what the heck it means. Most of the time, I don't feel looked down upon or like an annoyance. I feel like my classmates are glad I am here. We all want to accomplish the same thing, and they know that my education is going to help fuel the industry, just like theirs.

Here's the truth about being an agriculture student who didn't grow up on a farm. It is challenging, but it is awesome. I'm not afraid to say that I have an advantage in my prospective field. I am becoming an agricultural communicator who has the ability to talk to people like me, who didn't have first-hand experience farming, yet I can also speak to producers about new innovations that can improve the lives of their animals. I get the best of both worlds!

For me, that's the true beauty of it. Despite a bumpy journey and constant self-education, I have found the best fit for me. I can travel the globe to learn about other agricultural systems and connect with consumers who want to understand where their food really comes from. I have the ability to change the way people view the agricultural industry. When I am finished changing the world, I can shock everyone when I say that I didn't grow up on a farm, but that I fell in love this industry anyway.

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