I loved my house I lived in growing up. It was an average size house but what made it special was the land on which it sat. My grandparents lived next door; separating us was but a wooden pathway and a large fence of trees. All together my brother and I had about 10 acres of land filled with trees and grass to roam and explore. We lived in a crowded northwest suburb of Chicago but when we were home playing, “our town” was the ten acres that sat on a corner hidden by trees. We didn’t have neighborhood friends to play with, we had each other. I was raised with strong family ethics and morals. Sure I was blessed with my friends from school but my best friends were my family. Aside from my mom, dad, brother and grandparents, down a gravel road was a woman who owned donkeys, horses, pigs, and lots of cats. I remember taking walks with my mom and brother to visit her and her animals.
I vaguely recall going with my parents and grandparents to a meeting at our city hall. I was probably about seven years old at the time and there are two things that I still remember about it. One, it was boring. Second and most of all, I remember the woman down the street from me. She was upset; she was opposed to the building of apartments and townhouses behind her property. I remember her tears as she pleaded with the men and women in suits not to build. About a year later that woman moved away to a rural town in northern Illinois. It wasn’t long until we too sold our house. I was devastated the day my mom told my brother and me we were moving. We weren’t moving to a different town, just five minutes down the road to your average suburban neighborhood. I knew that my house was special, now we were leaving it and deep down I knew things were going to change.
Although my grandparents and parents did not sell our houses to developers, we knew it would only be a matter of time until some car dealership got their paws on our property. Sure enough, five years after we moved the trees that sheltered our home and my childhood were gone, vanished like they never existed. I told myself I would never forget what it was like to grow up there. To always remember everything that made it so special. And I do; I remember what it looked like, the tractor rides, playing in our tree house and on our giant tree swing, running through the “forest” with my brother, and having the best birthday parties. However, up until recently I forgot the feeling growing up there gave me.
This may sound outrageous to some, but I think those of you who are a part of agriculture will understand. When I entered the agriculture program at Illinois State University (ISU) I found a familiar feeling that I had almost forgotten. Tens years after I moved away from my old house I discovered that being involved in agriculture gives me the same comfort. If asked four years ago if I could ever see myself in agriculture I would have said no way. Now I can’t see myself anywhere else; I am at home.
When I entered the agriculture program at ISU, before classes started, I thought I would be transferring out within a semester. But after the first two weeks of my classes I was hooked. I instantly felt at home and recognized that the agriculture industry is unlike any other. All my teachers and classmates share a personable quality that I’ve learned goes beyond the classroom and into all aspects of the industry. Agriculture is truly the heart of the world. There is a negative misconception amongst consumers towards farmers that is ignorant and misguided by mediated propaganda. The true faces of farmers are hard working, loyal, and honest. Becoming apart of agriculture has given me this insight and now I wish everyone could see agriculture through my eyes.
At ISU I have become very active in the agriculture department and have built strong relationships with my professors. I am vice president for National Agriculture Marketing Association (NAMA) and will be attending my second Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leader’s Conference this year. I am a senior this year and it will not be long before I enter the professional field of agriculture. I do not yet know where I will start my career or with whom, however I do know that I want to be a part of the relationships that together, make this industry what it is today. I know that my opportunities are endless and wherever I find myself in a year, I will be a part of something unique. I am confident that ISU and the organizations in which I am involved have prepared me for the professional field and I can not wait to continue my life in agriculture. I know I still have a lot to learn about this industry, but I feel so blessed to have found something that sparks such motivation within me.