Agricultural Organizations

With the last few weeks of school wrapping up I have had time to reflect on my college career. What I concluded was that all of my best memories were made while I was participating in an organization activity. As expected, most of my extra circulars involved an Ag based organization. But I think that’s pretty unique, to go to a Big Ten university and have a whole college dedicated to Agriculture with  numerous organizations that promote the industry. You don’t see that everyday.

So what organizations did I spend most of my time in? Well first would be the Badger Dairy Club, one of the largest student orgs on campus actually! It is an organization that has a large alumni support and a membership filled with hard working, professional and passionate individuals. I have never in my entire life been surrounded by more well rounded peers. Unfortunately this past year was a bit of a rocky road for BDC due to unforeseen circumstances last year but I am proud to say that I was part of the team that got BDC back on track. In this club I met some of my best friends, I have built my resume and have traveled across the US and Canada to see some of the greatest farms in North America.

Another activity that I spent a lot of time in was Dairy Judging. When you go to class to tell them that you won’t be there due to being on the UW-Madison Dairy Judging team you usually get some kind of side glance (for those not in the ag school). I usually try to compare it to the row team or something to that extent. My judging experience was pretty unique, as a freshmen coming in we had brand new coaches, Chad Wethal and Brain Kelroy. Throughout  the years we consistently got better and better. We traveled from the Mid West to the East Coast, won contests throughout and finally when our last and most important contest came around, we won. It was an extra special moment because it was our coaches first team they had from the beginning and well, we won a damn national title! Judging was probably my most favorite extra curricular and I would encourage anyone to go out for the team, you will not regret your time.

And finally, the last organization I spent a great deal of time in is the Association of Women in Agriculture, a professional sorority on campus that creates an environment for like minded women all sharing a passion for agriculture. I met all of my girlfriends through AWA, even lived in the AWA house with 25 other girls! Being able to go to a place where you can talk to a fellow sister and can get help on any issue is a reassuring feeling when you live away from your family.

So to say the least, although I am sad that my time at Madison is coming to an end, I couldn’t have had a better experience. And because of the opportunities these organizations gave me I feel prepared and excited for the next chapter in my life. These organizations helped shape me into the woman I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful to be apart of their membership.

7 Reasons Farm Kids Succeed in Life

When you go into an interview or are introducing yourself to a stranger, what do you say about yourself? Mine usually goes as so, “Hello, I’m Laura Finley a senior at UW-Madison where I am majoring in Life Sciences Communication with an emphasis in Dairy Science, which is long for Ag Marketing and Communications. I’m from Lake Mills, WI where I was fortunate enough to grow up on multiple different farms since my family actually doesn’t have a farm. I show dairy cattle at a state and national level and I am active within many organizations both on and off campus, mostly the Wisconsin Holstein Association, Badger Dairy Club and the UW-Madison Dairy Judging team.”

I’ve gotten this speech down pretty solid over the years with interviews for scholarships, internships and jobs. Most of what I have ever interviewed for had something related to agriculture, so my introduction was relevant enough to usually get someones attention. It’s not very common for someone who doesn’t have a farm to be so active within the industry, but as I said I was fortunate enough to be around people who let me grow up on their farms. So why am I giving you my background info? First, because having an agricultural background is something many employers value, in any industry. And second, because I feel many young people who are active within the Ag industry don’t emphasize it enough. This could be for many different reasons, but usually because their friends think they’re a hillbilly and have an absurd view of the Ag industry. Which is obviously a bunch of bull.

So here is why being a farm kid is actually going to help you succeed in life.

1) People know you’re hard working

When an employer sees you’ve had farm experience they usually assume you are hard working. Why? Well probably because farms are a lot of work! When you describe what you do on the farm don’t skim on the details. The littlest details that you may think are pointless to mention may show that you pay attention to details, which is a good quality to have! And the large responsibilities you have shows you can accomplish tasks successfully in a timely manner. For example, who here helped unload wagons and wagons and wagons of hay on a scolding hot summer day? I know I did. And to be honest, I don’t know if many could handle that kind of work, I would suggest it as a work out for the football team! But as I said before, it’s a large task with a short time frame which you helped get done!

2) You’ve proved you know team work

98% of farms in America are family owned, meaning when you work on a farm you are working with either your family or a family you know closely. And as many know, sometimes working with family is the hardest thing to do. But despite this challenge you learn to get along and work with each others personalities and learn what you expect from each other. This is one of the most important skills to take into a work environment and you’re lucky enough to have learned it, so use it!

3) They already assume you’re well connected

“It’s a small industry.” How many times have you heard this about the Ag industry? All. The. Time. And it’s because it’s true, although it’s an industry that feeds the world it is a very well connected industry. Which is obviously awesome! Being involved in this industry has given me friends all across North America and even some in Europe and Mexico and I’m sure this sounds familiar to many of you. The other awesome part of this is, when you meet someone new it is very likely they will know someone you know too, which makes a great channel for communication! Anyway, the point is, keep making those connections!

4)You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty

When it comes to backbreaking work, your employer is more than likely going to look at you for this. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because they know you’re reliable and because this is the kind of work that is going to stand out  to your superiors. In today’s world it is, and don’t take this wrong, pathetic to look at the work ethic kids have today. Yes I know these are strong words but it’s a common theme in today’s society. No one is entitled to a good job, or a scholarship, or a raise, or really anything. You get these things through putting in your time doing the backbreaking work, so don’t expect to get out of this just because you’re not on the farm 24/7!

5) You understand respect

Farm kids know respect…for animals, for their elders, for the land and for themselves. Many would debate this because of their ill perceived views of animal agriculture. But when those animals are your livelihood their is nothing but respect for them and their products. Farmers know the importance of treating their animals and land with respect because they are hoping to pass their farm down to the next generation with hopes to only make it better for their family. Another way I look at it is through 4-H. Growing up on a farm you were more than likely involved in 4-H with crop and livestock projects. I don’t know about you but if I didn’t respect my project, it didn’t respect me. You gain a connection with your project, you learn to trust each other, you know what each other expect and you make a routine that is best for both of you. And if that doesn’t teach you respect for others and yourself, well I don’t know what will.

6) They assume you’re flexible

Because if you’re a farm kid you know your life at one point revolved around harvest or calving season or mechanical break downs, etc. etc. So when it comes to a “professional” working environment your supervisors may throw you a few more curve balls than others but that’s because they know you can handle it. So essentially, keep on rolling with the punches!

7) Everyone knows you will be a good time!

Pretty self-explanatory. When you work as hard as a farmer you also know the appropriate time to let loose. This is one thing the Ag industry has perfected; work hard, play hard!

So next time you are talking to a new acquaintance don’t forget about your background and be loud and proud!

National Agriculture Week!

Best week of the year?! Pretty close I’d say (I mean green beer is served during this week too!), National Agriculture Week is March 15th-21st and it’s a week of celebrating and thanking those who are stewards of the land, who bare the elements to put food on our tables, who take care of their animals as if they were family. To start out the week I am going to supply you with some National Ag Fact Images and as the week goes on I’ll be focusing a bit more on the great state of Wisconsin. AKA cows, cheese and cranberries!

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Did you realize how much farmers influence your life? If this is news to you I ask you to share this post with your friends so they realize how big of an impact agriculture has on their life as well, oh and as always, thank a farmer!