Life Lessons from 2016

Just like that, another year is almost coming to a close! Where the heck has the time gone?! It seems like just yesterday, I was ringing in 2016 with some of my closest friends and family. Looking back at the last 12 months, I cannot help but be thankful for all of the opportunities I have been blessed with, especially within the agriculture community. Throughout this year, I have learned many life lessons…

Spring semester 2016 at South Dakota State University was definitely a rewarding one. This was the time I would finally start my Agricultural Education courses and be placed in a classroom to observe and assist. I was so excited! My first day there, I knew I was going to love interacting with the students and teaching them about different aspects of agriculture and leadership. These students challenged me in many different ways, but I learned so much and grew personally and professionally. Life lesson #1: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Theodore Roosevelt. This is my all time favorite quote! Boy, did it ever ring true during my time in the classroom. I learned that if did not show my students how much I truly cared about them and the subject I was teaching, it would be difficult for them to learn anything from me.

Fast forward to Ag Day 2016 and I am on a plane to Washington D.C. to advocate for agriculture in our nation’s capital with students from across the United States. Through this program we were able to learn about different aspects of agricultural policy, network with professionals within public policy and meet with our Congressmen and women to celebrate Ag Day. Because of this experience (thanks to Ag Future of America) I knew I wanted to be an intern inkyla-1 D.C. Life lesson #2: There is a disconnect between rural America and D.C., but there are hardworking and passionate people who are trying to minimize that gap.
Summer 2016 was filled with courses, corn and crowns. This odd combination included my summer classes, an internship and serving as Minnesota’s Princess Kay of the Milky Way. It was a hectic, rewarding summer! Life lesson #3: Get yourself a mentor. My mentors helped me immensely during this busy summer. They always had a listening ear, words of encouragement and expert advice. Without them, I do not think I would have been able to get through this summer!

My internship allowed me to travel across Minnesota and Wisconsin supporting and assisting farmers. It was an absolute privilege to meet some of the most hardworking people in the country. Even though these people are working 24/7 to provide food for our country and world, they are doing so with perseverance and a great attitude. Life lesson #4: If you find a job you love, you will never work again. Farmers are the perfect example of this. Their demanding occupation could not be done if they did not believe wholeheartedly in what they were doing. Most of the farmers I have met are in it for the lifestyle, not the paycheck.

In August, it was time for me to pass the crown to the 63rd Princess Kay of the Milky Way. (Princess Kay is the goodwill ambassador for the Minnesota’s dairy community.) As I stood on the stage that so many other young dairywomen have stood before, I could not help but be thankful for the kylaopportunities I had been given thanks to this experience.
My heart swelled with joy as I set the crown on our new Princess Kay, knowing she would be in for the ride of a lifetime. Life lesson #5: Advocate for what you believe in. I spent an entire year traveling Minnesota to schools, conferences and community events talking about the importance of the dairy community. I am thankful for every conversation had, relationship built and memory made through this experience.

Two weeks after giving up the crown, I packed my bags and started my journey across the country to Arlington, Virginia to start my internship with the Animal Agriculture Alliance. This internship has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being surrounded by a team of passionate women in agriculture was a true blessing. The projects I worked on have given me real-life, applicable experience that I will utilize for the rest of my professional career. I have thoroughly enjoyed taking in all of the sights, sounds and history of Washington D.C., networking with professionals in agricultural policy and supporting the team at the Alliance. Life lesson #6: “There is no comfort in a growth zone, and no growth in a comfort zone.” Moving across the country has its challenges, but it has been something special. Who would have thought that after this internship I would actually end up changing my major? Not me! I am happy with my decision to switch to Agricultural Communications because it is a career path I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. Telkyla-2ling the story of agriculture has always been something I have loved doing.  Now, I can do it as a career!

My time in D.C. and at the Alliance is coming to an end, with a greater understanding of my purpose and a full heart, I will head back home to Minnesota thankful for each and every opportunity I had this year. These few experiences and lessons are just a small portion of all the wonderful things that happened in 2016. If 2017 is anything like this past year, I know it will be an unforgettable adventure. Life lesson #7: Work hard and believe in yourself. There is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it. 

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

Why I Thank Agriculture

Imagine this: you walk into your home on a crisp fall afternoon and your senses are all over the place. You can smell cinnamon and baked apples as a fresh, warm apple pie just comes out of the oven. You hear the bubbling of a creamy vegetable soup over the stovetop. You see a delicious steak marinated to perfection and about to be cooked just how you like it. To top it off, you are about to take a sip from a large mug of peppermint hot chocolate. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering right now!1

After picturing all of that happening, I cannot help but be thankful for the hands that have produced each ingredient in those delicious foods. November is the perfect time to reflect on why we are thankful for everything we have been given in our lives. Something that I am most thankful for, and is often taken for granted, is agriculture. I can think of a million reasons #WhyIThankAg, but what I want to highlight is the delicious and nutritious foods farmers are producing to feed the world. It does not matter if you grow fruits, vegetables, or grain crops,  care for animals or produce herbs and spices, I am thankful for farmers all over the United States that produce a safe and abundant food supply.

I really enjoy cooking and baking and I know it would not be possible without the farmers and ranchers that help to produce each ingredient. Without them, one of my favorite pastimes would not be possible (and we would starve). That is #WhyIThankAg. Growing up on a dairy farm means that my family is almost always busy and meals are eaten in unusual places and at unusual times. With chilly fall nights and an always cold Minnesota winter, there is one recipe that is my family’s go-to when we need something quick, hearty and delicious. There is nothing better than a hot, creamy soup when you need to warm up.  Check out this AMAZING soup recipe courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association.
Soup-er Creamy Veggie Soup2
Ingredients
  • 2 ½ cups reduced fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14 ½ ounces) fat free chicken broth
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets or cut fresh green beans
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of diced cooked chicken breast

 

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, potato and carrots; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes.
  2. Add broccoli, salt and pepper; cook 5 minutes.
  3. Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually stir in milk, mixing well.
  4. Add milk mixture and cooked chicken to soup; bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and soup has thickened.

3Need a quicker version?  Use pre-cut or thawed frozen vegetables to make this delicious soup in half of the time!

It is not often that most people think about the individual person that helps to produce the food they are putting into their favorite recipes. It is so important to remember that food does not just come from the grocery store. There are hardworking, passionate people behind each and every food that we enjoy eating. Next time you sit down with your family for a delicious dinner, remember the people who are working around the clock to feed your family and the families of people all over the world. Thank you, farmers and ranchers, because of you my family can enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal together, I can occasionally indulge in my favorite sweets and treats and I am able to continue to participate in one of my favorite hobbies. Because of the food you produce, I will always be thankful for agriculture.

8 Reasons to Celebrate FFA

12063584_10205154888819727_4930963141184318554_n“I believe in the future of agriculture…”

I vividly remember reciting these words over and over in my head during my first course in agricultural education. This iconic line is the first phrase in the FFA Creed. It is a line that FFA members, past and present, can recite without hesitation because of its symbolism and the bond that ties us all together. From the first time I recited the FFA Creed to earning my American FFA Degree six years later; this organization has truly helped me become the person I am today.

If you are not familiar with FFA, here some of the basics of the organization that has touched the lives of thousands of students.

  • It was founded by 33 students in 1928 as ‘Future Farmers of America.’
  • Although it once stood for that, it is now referred to as The National FFA Organization to better accommodate the growing diversity of its members.
  • It is the largest student-led organization in the world with 649,355 members who are a part of 7,859 chapters.
  • The mission of The National FFA Organization is: “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education”

The FFA Motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

Check out The National FFA Organization for more information!

This week happens to be an e10292278_869204976434761_2988694273467545930_nxtra special one for The National FFA Organization. On Wednesday October, 19 FFA will kick off its 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. It is a gathering of over 63,000 members and guests, who are there to learn, lead, grow and celebrate the accomplishments of members and chapters across the country. While I am very envious of everyone at convention right now, I am ecstatic to share with you all eight reasons why we should always Celebrate FFA!

  1. A Rich History – Whenever a member zips up the golden zipper of a blue corduroy jacket, there is a sense of pride that overfills them. Being a part of a tradition that dates back to 1928 is something to be proud of. FFA was founded on the belief in the future of agriculture and that will never change. It is the bond that ties present and past members together.
  2. Personal Development – In high school, I was a shy, timid freshman. It was not until I found my place in the FFA that I truly developed into the person I am today. FFA is helping students to find their purpose. It may be in agriculture, it may not be, but regardless of your goals and aspirations, FFA will help you grow into someone who will make a difference.
  3. Lifelong Friends – Some of the most impactful relationships I have are because of my time in the FFA. I have friends from all over the country! When you graduate from FFA, the relationships do not become a thing of the past. The relationships will hold true because of the experiences you shared in the FFA.
  4. Opportunity to Travel – FFA can take you across the world!
    10177516_926427420700631_7268840265978179889_n

    FFA State Officers have the opportunity to participate in an international experience. This photo was taken in South Africa.

    On the local level, chapters will travel throughout their counties to state convention and to camps and conferences competing in contests, participating in service projects and gaining valuable leadership experiences. National FFA Convention is a great way for members to travel and meet people from all over. Each summer, FFA also hosts Washington Leadership Conference in D.C. This conference focuses on learning how to take action in your community and serve other people. Through my experiences in the FFA I have been all over the state of Minnesota, Washington D.C., about eight different states and even to South Africa. These were all unforgettable experiences that would have never been possible without the help of FFA.

  5. Scholarships – Each year, The National FFA Organization will give away $2.2 million in scholarships. How great is it that individuals and companies believe so highly in the future of agriculture that will donate this much to the education of students!
  6. 14469617_1287549081279258_348064421540300413_nCareer Preparation – In the FFA, there are Career Development Events (CDEs) and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) that are helping students prepare for future career endeavors in many agricultural pathways. At the national level there are 24 CDEs that all you to
    compete individually or with a team in areas ranging from marketing/communications to dairy cattle evaluation and parliamentary procedure to agricultural mechanics. Contests start at the local level and if you do well enough you can compete at state and national conventions. CDEs help give students real-life experiences in dif
    ferent career endeavors, not to mention they are a blast to be a part of!
  7. Advocates for Agriculture – FFA members everywhere are helping to bridge the gap between production agriculture and consumers. FFA members are the future veterinarians, scientists, farmers, animal nutritionists, Congressmen, teachers and so much more. They are going to make a positive difference in the agricultural community regardless of where the future will take them.
  8. Becoming a Part of Something Bigger – In my opinion, this is the best reason to celebrate FFA. FFA members are selfless. Chapters across the country participate in countless numbers of service projects and literacy events. Members are working hard to combat some of the biggest global challenges, including hunger. When FFA members put on that iconic corduroy jacket, there is nothing they cannot do.

At the Alliance, we are so fortunate that some of us had the opportunity to be a part of The National FFA Organization. Everyday lives are being positively impacted because of this organization and its members. I am forever thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had through the FFA and I know thousands of other people feel the same way. This organization is helping students become lifelong advocates for agriculture.

Happy National Convention, FFA! Best of luck to the members and chapters competing in contests. Enjoy convention and all it has to offer, but remember you can always Celebrate FFA!

Growing up the Farmer’s Daughter

Some children grow up in the suburbs, others in the big city, some live in large mansions, others in small apartment buildings, but I believe I had the best place of all tpicture-in-front-of-barno grow up. Where would that be you might ask? My family’s dairy farm. Our farm is proudly located in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (Minnesota) and has been there for four generations. Each and every day on the dairy is something very special to me. There are triumphs and challenges, but I could not be more thankful to have been raised with agriculture in my roots. Here are three of the most important life lessons I learned growing up as the farmer’s daughter.

The cows come first. Always.

Regardless of the day or time, cow care is the top priority for my family. In my home, we do not eat supper or lunch until the cows have received their’s. We don’t clean our home, until the cow barn is taken care of. We don’t go to the doctor until the veterinarian came to check on our cows. Everyone in my family knows and fully understands that the cows come first. Farmers just like my dad, work tirelessly everyday of the year to make sure that their animals are well cared for. Imagine getting a call from your boss at 2:30 a.m. telling you to get to work right away. Most of us would question their sanity and then roll back over in bed. That is not the case for farmers. If my dad knows a cow will be calving in the middle of the night, I can guarantee you he will be up monitoring the birthing process ensuring the cow and newborn calf are well and healthy. There is no such thing as a ‘day off’ in my family.

There is always something to learn.

There are just some things that cannot be taught in the classroom. Thankfully, I have learned many life lessons on the farm. Work ethic, growing from mistakes and failure, and the importance of advocating for what you love are all proficiencies I have learned from the dairy. When you have to be up at sunrise and do not get to bed until way after sunset, you begin to be appreciative for the fact that you have a job that makes time go by in the blink of an eye. When you spend a countless number of hours preparing the land and planting your crops in the spring only to watch a hail storm destroy everything, you begin to be thankful for the fact that no people or animals were hurt. When you read and hear about organizations trying to destroy your livelihood by spreading misinformation, you begin to find the courage within yourself to stand up for what you believe in. I am a better person because of the trials and tribulations, victories and accomplishments I have had on the farm.

Family is forever. kylas-family

It is definitely not a ‘normal’ thing to have to work with your parents, grandparents, and siblings every day, but truthfully, I would not have it any other way. Each day, my family and I wake up knowing that we are taking care of cows that are producing wholesome, nutritious milk and are feeding the world. Being able to lean on your family in times of success and defeat is something I will never take for granted. We support one another in all aspects of our lives, especially when it comes to the farm.

Farming is a family affair. We farmers love what we do and are thankful for the opportunity to work alongside some of our closest friends and family. Just because a farm is large, does not make it a “factory farm” instead of a family farm. Ninety-seven percent of farms in America ar
e family-owned. Just as a person from town or a large city may want to go back to the family business, children of farmers want to do the same. With more family members wanting to continue their agricultural legacy and tradition, it is important that the farm expands in order to support multiple generations. Regardless of the size of the farm, animal care is going to be our top priority.

Do you see whfamily-farms-for-blogy life on the dairy farm has meant so much to me? I would not be the person I am today without the life lessons learned and the family who helped to raise me on the farm. I can assure you that I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. People all across the country are thankful to have been raised in agriculture and are passionate about producing our world’s food and fiber. Being an actual farmer may not be in my career aspirations, but I know that agriculture will be in my future. After all, I will always be the farmer’s daughter.