Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, even though my family’s celebrations haven’t exactly been traditional. Growing up, we would always spend our Thanksgiving volunteering at our local volunteer fire company’s supper, which was a major fundraiser for the year. My brother and I were usually tasked with dusting oysters for frying (seafood at Thanksgiving – it’s a Maryland thing), so from early in the morning into the evening you could find us covered in flour filling tray after tray with powdered oysters. Some years we missed out on eating before our favorite foods were gone – on one particularly dreary occasion my Thanksgiving dinner was a tuna sub from Sheetz.
After moving six hours away from home for college and even further away for my first job – not to mention dating a veterinary student and later a veterinarian who was at the mercy of his clinic rotation and on-call schedule – I’ve had plenty of other non-traditional Thanksgiving dinners, from ‘Friendsgivings’ to my parents driving up to my then-boyfriend’s house in upstate New York with a fully cooked dinner in tow. While the traditional turkey dinner and festively decorated home haven’t always been part of my Thanksgiving holidays, the feeling of gratefulness is always there.
When I think of #WhyIThankAg, a million reasons come to mind. Of course, I am thankful for the work everyone involved in the agriculture industry does to produce safe, affordable food for our families. Because a slim minority of the population takes on the task of raising animals and growing crops, the rest of us are able to pursue different ambitions and goals. My goals happen to be within the field of agriculture, and a big reason #WhyIThankAg is the amazing opportunities I have enjoyed both personally and professionally as a part of this industry.
I began judging dairy cattle as part of the 4-H program when I was nine years old. When I was 16, dairy judging took me on a trip to Europe after my team won the national 4-H contest. A few years later, that involvement connected me to Ohio State’s dairy judging coach who then recruited me to come to college there, where I found immeasurably valuable professional contacts, lifelong friends, and even my husband. In high school, I was very involved with FFA. The agricultural communication Career Development Event ignited my passion for combining communications and agriculture and influenced my selection of a college major. I still work in the agricultural communication field today and don’t see myself ever leaving it.
I thank agriculture for the life I’m lucky to get to live. Without the support of industry mentors or sponsoring organizations, none of the experiences I and many other agricultural youth have enjoyed would have been possible. It hasn’t stopped since moving to the professional world, either. The agriculture industry is a wonderfully unique place, because we are all connected by our passion for helping farmers and ranchers. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone in an agricultural career who views it as “just a job” or “a way to get a paycheck.” Even colleagues who don’t come from a farm background are amazed and inspired by the producers they get to meet.
I’m thankful to work with such a diverse network of passionate, talented people – individuals that I never would have met if it weren’t for agriculture. A career in agriculture is the best one a person can have – that’s #WhyIThankAg!