NATIONAL AG DAY Happy #NationalAgricultureDay, y'all! It seems my entire life was built around agriculture. I was born in rural southern Ohio, in a small town (village, actually) that is literally surrounded by row crops. I remember being younger and sitting on our front porch watching the combines drive by, going from one field to the other. I remember passing the sprayers on the highway and thinking they were something from the movie Star Wars. Although my parents weren't farmers, my grandpa was. Growing up there was always cattle (until they hit the market), tons of chickens (always fresh eggs), 4-H hogs during the spring and summer, a garden full of vegetables and baling hay in the summer. Since I was younger, my family was always involved with 4-H, an educational program for youth to help build skills like responsibility and hard work with hands on projects. 4-H was literally a family affair for us. My parents were advisors for our club, as well as mentors for our projects. My Mam (grandma) would always come down to our house during the summer to help my sister and I with our sewing projects and my Papaw (grandpa) always helped us with our livestock projects. Since my mom was a home economics major in college, she was also able to help us with our sewing and nutrition projects. During the summers we would spend every Sunday weighing and washing hogs while enjoying pizza from Little Caesars. I learned at a young age that although my pigs were my pets, they were also my food. While in 4-H, I literally met lifelong best friends. We would spend weekends cleaning out cattle stalls or riding four wheelers through the pastures, and when fair time came along the entire week was dedicated to hanging out with our friends, as long as we weren't tending to our animals. ;) Fair week turned into livestock judging contests. Spending an hour or so in a truck just so we could go evaluate different types of animals. As I got older, I knew my 4-H career would be ending once I left for college. I ended up choosing a major at a school that specialized in agriculture, basically so I could still be involved somehow with my "4-H roots". Every classmate and friend I made my first year away at school was essentially just like me. We all had similar backgrounds; 4-H, FFA, farming, and a passion for "feeding the world". After a change of my major, I felt like I finally found my calling with my new chosen major: agricultural communication. Now that doesn't mean I go out whispering to corn or talking to cows, agricultural communicators are more than that. We're the ones bridging the gap between consumers and producers. I like to think we're sort of the middle man, the ones who know all the nitty gritty details of the agricultural industry but can tell the farmer's story when they just can't form the story themselves. My time at Ohio State's agricultural college, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, taught me so much. I was still involved in clubs and organizations that focused hard on the agricultural industry. I completed internships that were focused on promoting agricultural commodities while I worked with the top dawg professionals nationwide. My classes were focused around teaching us to be designers, leaders, storytellers, and communicators. As ag communicators, we wear many hats at our jobs. I traveled to conferences in distant states just to talk and learn from other students who shared the same passion for ag that I did. After graduation, I took my first job with a production company that focused primarily on promoting agricultural commodities. We filmed for numerous commodities nationwide. I've been on ranches in the middle of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, farrowing barns in northwestern Ohio, pastures in the middle of a snowstorm during calving season, oil rigs in the hollers of Pennsylvania, and no access zones of bull pens just to get the shot of collecting semen. (Yep, you read that right!) Although my current job is anything but related to agriculture, the industry is still a part of me. I always cherish the snapchats my friends send me when they're in the fields or at a livestock show. I always take my time when I run by the carriage tour horse stalls in downtown Charleston. I love supporting local farmers, but also support larger "corporation" farms. I don't eat organic, but support those farmers who cater to that lifestyle. I don't buy meat that's "antibiotic free" because honestly, I'd rather eat an animal that was treated if it was sick as opposed to not treated, that's just common animal welfare. And I'd much rather see an animal safe in a barn than living in outside below zero degree Midwest weather conditions. Sorry, Chipotle. I'm a firm believer that farmers and ranchers do care about the food they are producing for the world, because they eat the same food that you do. So here I am, just a small-town rural Ohio kid living the life working at a lifestyle magazine of one of the most tourist destinations in the world. Am I a real life Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama or ? Thank you to all of my friends, family, and people I haven't met who dedicate their time/lives providing food to the world. I'll forever share your story! Click here to view my ag story in photos               

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