Reading is beginning to change my life, throughout my time in college I haven’t always prioritized required readings but this year things have changed. Reading about things you genuinely care about completely changes the scenario; and I just love learning more about agriculture. This year in my animal welfare class we are reading, Compassion by the Pound, The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare by F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk. This book has honestly been the answer to so many lingering questions I have about agriculture in regards to practices and animal welfare. All of my beliefs have changed due to the facts presented in this book; I mostly appreciate this book due to the unbiased layout of information. They do a great job at telling both sides of the spectrum in every aspect of agriculture practices and relevant animal welfare issues. Just recently I read chapter 5 titled “Raising the Animal”, this chapter covers all of the different systems of raising birds, pigs and cows; and it completely blew my mind. I knew there were conventional and non-conventional systems but I had no idea the different varieties of each, as well I was pretty clueless on what actually went on in each system. For example, I always knew there was a huge debate on caged eggs vs. cage-free eggs but I didn’t know each side well enough to have an opinion. The biggest question presented in this chapter regarding birds was whether a hen is better off in a cage or cage-free system. After reading this, I realize that this is a tricky question to answer because a portion of it should be based on science but ultimately the opinion will be based off of someone’s idea of what is humane. Overall though, I had no idea the different variables that played a part in raising hens, who knew a pecking order was such a serious factor in cage vs. no -cage; since birds can only remember up to 30 other birds it’s important to separate them accordingly to prevent aggression creating a safer environment. I think one of the most interesting points I took away from this reading was how humans are the reason for caged eggs. Don’t get me wrong I think caged eggs are the most efficient and safe system for hens considering all facts and figures; but I find it funny how many people create such a drama about how “inhumane” it is, yet they fund it by demanding low prices. Farmer’s continue to produce caged eggs because we demand lower prices and to afford lower prices farmers have to use the caged eggs system; and today almost all hens are raised in a cage system in the US. At the end of the day it all comes down to the consumer and what we demand, because this is what drives farmers to produce goods. I guess this should encourage consumers to really consider what their purchases reflect and allow them to prioritize their beliefs if they are going to fight against such production systems.
This week I keep thinking about my time in Haiti in 2012, since 3 of my church friends were just accepted to spend the summer in Haiti serving a children’s orphanage. On our mission trip in Port Au Prince, Haiti we served a community that lived at the speed of love, time was nonexistent which was such a blessing to experience. On this mission trip I experienced a culture beyond my comprehension, and I was faced with the sight of abject poverty Children ran around without shoes and were barely clothed; but nothing seemed to faze them. Their way of life was simple but pure; almost likethe life we are called to live in the bible; obviously minus all of the malnutrition and corruption.
The community leaders of Chadirac were coffee farmers so in the mornings we would help pack bags with soil and plant coffee trees. This was by far one of my favorite activities, I loved helping them and seeing how important agriculture is for their community; despite how different it looks from our ways. The best part of working hand and hand with the Haitians and their children; was it brought fun and laughter into working regardless of the language barrier. In the beginning it was very frustrating to use their production processes because it was very inefficient; but we gradually started showing them assembly lines to process through more bags. Although now I understand that malnutrition and constant heat was a barrier for their productivity, in addition to the strenuous labor they had to accomplish daily. By the end of the week we had planted enough coffee trees to produce coffee for the next 40 years.
I feel the time I spent in Haiti really opened my eyes to a different world, because I went into the experience thinking I was going to change lives but little did I know they changed my life. As Americans we think we live the dream; but do we really? After seeing the hearts of many Haitians and there compassion for us, I began to consider the option that we are the poor ones while they are greatly rich. Their abundant joy came from their complete trust in our Creator and their lives were of testimony of that. This experience has inspired me to continue leading a life that is not about me but about people who are in need. I am passionate about making connections that will in turn affect the way I view the world, because I don’t want to be oblivious to the ongoing need in our world. I also want to be open to other cultures by experiencing them through traveling the world and challenging my own views along the way. I’ve realized over the last few years my heart is set on traveling but I am unsure if this is just a season of life I am in or if it will be something I make a career of—I guess time will tell!
Last week in my Public Relations course we had the privilege to hear from Lynzee Glass the managing editor for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor; which is a newspaper targeted to farmers and ranchers. This newspaper has been around for 16 years in Missouri but also produces publications for Northwest Missouri, Arkansas, and Eastern Oklahoma. The sole purpose of her presentation was to explain their struggles with social media based off of their average readers. OF&N utilizes Facebook and Twitter, although this wasn’t the easiest transition due to their staff with very traditional ways. So far they have reached 1,400 Facebook followers, but the problem at hand is this number doesn’t reflect their 58,000 subscribers. Their average reader is males between the ages of 35-65 who run a cow/calf operation; because this is solely an educational paper.
Since it is important to stay up to date with social media in the realm of advertising your product they decided to target a different market to direct viewers to their website. Through Facebook they have been able to grab a newer, younger audience and get their name out there at the same time. Since this paper is only distributed every 3 weeks there is news that doesn’t make it into their newspaper but is now posted onto Facebook. As well, this is free publicity for their newspaper and at the end of the day their main goal is to direct people to their site for profit from ads.
Lynzee talked about how utilizing social media has improved OF&N’s popularity within the younger generation. The most important positive factor from social media is the ability to communicate with other companies at ease. She explained how even though their Twitter doesn’t have many followers, they find it very beneficial because of their direct communication with companies like Angus Association, Farm Bureau…and companies alike. Since she is the editor it is her job to help compile ideas to write about, and with these sources she is able to ask questions about particular issues to incorporate in their newspaper.
I really enjoyed listening to Lynzee speak about OF&N because it gave me a different perspective of the problems associated with older companies with an older subscribers. It is great evidence that companies can transform and meet the public where there at, even if it isn’t traditional to their product.
In class last week we were assigned to create a video with a classmate to inform people about a topic in agriculture. Nikki and I decided to take a comical approach to this video to entertain any viewers that may run across our YouTube post. I would like to disclaim before viewing that I am not completely uniformed about the use of animals but this probably is a great description of me prior to agriculture! In the beginning of studying about agriculture I always found information like this so interesting because it really is something most people take for granted. I know at least in my experience growing up I had no idea animals were needed for things like glue,nail polish, shampoo and conditioner, and other foods like marshmallows. I remember sitting in class looking at a list of hundreds of items and my jaw dropping to the floor. It is almost impossible to go through a day without using something that contains animal by-products. It gives me so much more appreciation for animals because not only do i enjoy eating them but now I have to give them credit for always having cute nails and fresh breath! Another reason I am so interested in agriculture is because it is related to almost everything in life, agriculture is interconnected with almost everything because without it we wouldn’t be living. I find it crazy now that so many individuals go a lifetime without ever knowing the importance of agriculture or even understanding the process of where our food comes from. You would think people would be more interested in what happens to the food they eat, and how it gets from the farm to the store. Growing up I never had these thoughts so I can see how it happens but now I see the great need to inform Americans about what makes living here so amazing. I hope to eventually be a part of something that can do just that, and start a revolution of informing society about what makes up the essentials of life!
To keep my “About Me” section short and sweet I decided to elaborate more on my story in my blog post! Like I mentioned before I am not ashamed to say, I grew up dreaming of becoming a glamorous movie star yet, a princess would have sufficed! Growing up I spent all of my time playing dress up, changing my outfit literally 7 times a day, stealing my mom’s heels and cat walking around the house! I was “that” child, always the center of attention and ready to perform at any waking moment. This being said the thought of cows, farming, and dirt (excuse me! *soil) were the least of my concerns; so going into college unfortunately I was still uninformed. It only took a year for me to realize dirt, cows, and cowboys were my calling! So I switched my major and started learning what seemed to me to be a foreign language. The amount of work it took to just understand the lingo is beyond me, I still am learning; yesterday I learned what noodling is…and you will NEVER see me doing that! My sophomore year I remember reading an animal science book and crying because I knew this was where I was supposed to be! In that moment I knew that I had a passion to learn about agriculture, which if you knew me you’d realize it was one “divine intervention”! I believe by fate I was placed into an agriculture course my freshman year; because I wouldn’t be where I am today without that little mistake! Now, I am studying Agriculture and Communications pursuing a career in politics to represent agricultural interests on local, national and hopefully international level one day. I am passionate about paving the way for the future of agriculture and continually challenging myself along the way.
My sophomore year I dropped everything and left to intern full-time at the Missouri State Capitol and was placed with the President Pro Tem, Sen. Rob Mayer. I lived full-time in Jefferson City and worked 40+ hrs a week; and spent the nights at events socializing and meeting new people! On the side I volunteered for Shane Schoeller running for Secretary of State in Missouri and then was hired onto the Prop A, Local Control Initiative. I fell in love with the process of campaigning and to this day spend a lot of time helping out with anything I can. My time at the capitol though was one experience I will never forget; it was there that I realized I wanted to live a life full of adventure! The thought of staying in one place, going to the same classes with the same people didn’t seem appealing anymore. I thought the only way to continue to put myself on the edge is to study abroad, so I spent the following spring studying in Melbourne, Australia.
It’s hard to sum up such a huge experience but while living in Australia I found myself and I made friends that helped shape me into who I am today. In my time there I traveled anywhere I could, backpacking the east coast of Australia with friends, and relaxing on the beautiful islands in Fiji; it was just absolutely breathtaking. The memories I made, friends I found, and compassion I discovered for all types of people was monumental. I now have the traveling bug and am already planning my next adventure to backpack Europe with all my new friends! I’m expectant for the future and what God has in store for my life but I can’t imagine that it will be anything less than leading a life full of color; traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, eating delicious food, and growing stronger in my faith!