After spending many years with my head “buried in the sand” about Iowa's agrarian roots and where food comes from, I believe it’s only fitting that I “agvocate” in my newly awakened, authentic state of existence.
Nothing makes me cringe more than this conversation:
Me: “Do you know where your beef comes from?”
Other person: “Yes! It comes from the grocery store!”
Suffice it to say, I’ve discovered creative ways of hiding my horrified expressions (not easy to visualize for those of you who know me!). Nonetheless, there’s no reason for me to hide when there’s tremendous opportunity to teach!
So teach I do – in any possible way I can find.
My family and friends humor me by listening to my message strategies – kind of like words to your favorite song that you listen to over and over and over and . . .
For that, I’m truly humbled and thankful.
And, I’m gaining steam.
The call from FarmHer® creator and founder Marji Guyler-Alaniz was unforgettable.
I was several years into my boots-on-the-ground learning at one of my family’s ag operations and loved having guests join my family, ranch team and I for memorable experiences they can’t find in the city.
Marji found me through my ranching blog and wanted to photograph me as a FarmHer® subject. I rarely position myself at the end of a camera lens, preferring instead to photograph others, so I wasn’t too keen on having a visitor with a purposeful camera. I gave her the name and phone number of a sixth-generation cattlewoman at Hoover Angus not far from our southern Iowa operation.
Then my creative juices kicked in and I made up some excuse about how as someone from a long line of western South Dakota ranchers, the term “FarmHer” wouldn’t fly in my family. I jokingly added that if she created a RancHer® aspect, I’d consider having her to my family’s southern Iowa ranch.
Wouldn’t you know – Marji called several months later to proudly declare the RancHer® division.
By May 2014, she was atop my most trusted mare, Dolly, camera bag and camera in tow. Never having shot photos from a horse before, I must admit I was thoroughly impressed (as was my family, the ranch team and our neighbors lending a hand) by her sense of adventure and artistic abilities. She was a joy to have at our old-fashioned calf branding. To her credit, she agreed not to photograph my face and maintained her promise.
Beautiful shots of the cattle, horses, land and people helping that day are inspiring. Some of the images found their way to exhibits, a magazine and the like.
The best part is the friendship that formed. I feel so blessed!
Iowa Food & Family Project
One of my favorite avenues to “agvocate” is through the Iowa Food & Family Project – the brainchild of the Iowa Soybean Association and currently supported by every commodity group and other business partners.
I can also be found sharing ag-related career information. I love talking about how my oldest son open enrolled from Waukee High School his senior year to Des Moines Public School’s Central Campus so he can spend half of his day engaged in hands-on learning at the Animal Science and Horticulture campus helping run profitable, student-run businesses.
Career opportunities abound
The most impressive way I’ve seen ag’s extensive career opportunities creatively presented are in the 2014 STEM Annual Report spearheaded by Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Who knew career possibilities exist to the tune of:
- 5,264 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 41,780 jobs in Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Business and Management.
- 1,596 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 505,042 jobs in Agricultural Mechanization and Engineering.
- 6,181 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 56,013 jobs in Animal Science.
- 2,752 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 116,898 jobs in Plant and Soil Science.
- 1,346 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 36,570 jobs in Food Science and Technology.
- 14,918 undergraduate and graduate degree completers (2012) for 80,199 jobs in other Life Science fields.
I welcome your ag-related questions. Reach out to me any time. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll happily find it!