Why Planting Season Stinks in College

Standard

022

It’s nearing the first of May. And for all farm kids, farmers, and farm wives that brings a LOT more than just a month left of school and summer quickly approaching. It doesn’t just imply April showers bring May flowers, either. It means long nights, early mornings, and seeing more “dirt” and seed than people. For most, the tractor seat turns into your best friend, and you listen to more radio than ever before. Yet, the chores at home, homework, and meals still have to happen, and it takes a saint to run food to the field for every meal and please cranky farmers with entrees that can be eaten with one hand in a bumpy field.

Yet, where do the next generation of farmers, who are off at college, fit into this jigsaw puzzle that we lovingly call spring planting? It’s rough being a farm kid in a college town. The professors, school, and classmates just don’t seem to understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into planting, much less how much we love it. It’s not just about getting the last field worked or seed in the ground; it’s about what will happen in the fall. How you think the harder you work to make planting go smoothly the better the chances at the biggest yield.

Being away at school takes almost all of the fun out of it, though. You can’t smell the freshly turned dirt or rip open a bag of seed every day and night. The phone calls are more frequent as we constantly want to know what’s going on at the farm and how many acres are left. We count the days till Friday in hopes that the rain will hold off, and we too can get a little tractor time. I don’t think it has ever been so hard to be away.

The deep passion that runs in farm kid’s blood is unmatched. Who else can say that they drive home for the weekend to get covered in dust or sit in a tractor for 12 hours straight? It’s not all about being there for the process; it’s being involved in the family legacy and taking on more of the responsibility, in hopes of showing dad or grandpa that we want to be just like them. While the stress of planting season isn’t easy for those at home on the farm, it’s even harder to be away.

 

GMOs For All

Standard

In my environmental communications class, we have discussed issues on a very broad basis. This class is a little different than most of my ag comm classes. You see, this class also has many environmental science and conservation students. As close as that sounds to agriculture, I’ve learned very quickly that many of those students have views that butt heads with my own, they also seem just as passionate about their viewpoints as I am about my own.

One of the topics that seems to be the largest dispute between their views and mine are GMOs (imagine that).

As a farm kid, I know that farmers aren’t the bad guys that others sometimes perceive them as. My dad wouldn’t be planting the seeds he does if he didn’t think they were the most cost-effective and would raise him the healthiest and most bountiful crop possible. I also believe, that companies like Monsanto, aren’t the devil. I believe that they are just doing their job to help farmers be the most profitable and efficient at their jobs, just like a librarian helps a student to best use the library to its full potential.

Many seem to believe that the U.S. should ban the use of GMO crops like many European countries have done. As it turns out, nine European countries currently have bans on the cultivation of GMO crops, many on Monsanto’s maize.

As anyone who goes to the grocery store knows, labeling is becoming a confusing ordeal. Illinois Corn says that there are five food labels that consumers shouldn’t pay extra for: natural, no added hormones, cage free, non-GMO, and pasture raised. Don’t these sound like extra money-making schemes?

While doing a little research to see what large food manufacturing companies have to think about this, I found an interesting story about everyone’s beloved Cheerios.

The Farmer’s Daughter USA tells that Cheerios has hopped on the GMO-free labeling bandwagon. Although they state that they didn’t have to change any of their ingredients (there are no GMO oats for commercial use). If Cheerios were always considered a safe cereal, why would they need to add this label? Are they trying to use the scare-tactics and take advantage of extra sales from consumers who really believe GMOs are bad for them?

General Mills then said

  “On safety – our No. 1 priority – we find broad and deep global consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved GM ingredients are safe,”

in their annual 2014 Global Responsibility Report. If General Mills can have such a large change of heart about biotechnology and GMOs, I hope that the rest of the world can too.

NPR talks about a few myths that need cleared up to help show the basics of GMOs. The main one being, that few crops actually are GMOs.

Alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and squash are the true GMO crops.

Being an AGvocate, I want to help farmers and consumers unite, so that goals for safety are known by both parties. Farmers and farm companies will need to band together to ensure their ideas, products, and yields are wholesome for all that eat them.

Day 10: Kaskaskia College

Standard

When you look back at past decisions, you realize that some were really great and some you probably could have lived without. I am so thankful that I attended Kaskaskia College for two years. Yes, I’m happy that I was able to judge there, but also meeting all the people, being in an environment that felt like home, and being able to be involved with ag club and PAS all are just as important.

Kaskaskia PAS

Kaskaskia PAS

Being in a club that understands all of the parts of agriculture is important to me. Joining the ag club and being involved in PAS at Kaskaskia was a great choice. Since I was getting my associates in Science and Arts, I didn’t get to take all the ag classes that I would have liked to; ag club allowed me to still be involved with ag. PAS is very similar to FFA but at the collegiate level, I got to continue to show my knowledge of the dairy industry. The trips that KC took for PAS were a lot of fun, because we all got to know each other better and made friendships.

10171898_10152428325070676_1793566338_n

Living with these ladies rocked!

Going to college, one thing you “should” be concerned about are your roommates. I didn’t have to be worried about that. I had the best roommates both years, and have a lot of awesome memories. I still hangout out with them and talk to them on a regular basis. If it weren’t for KC, I wouldn’t have met these amazing girls, and a few of my future bridesmaids.

1441338_10202411303183119_2129369505_n

World Dairy Expo Champions

Lets be honest, the only reason I had ever hear of Kaskaskia, and attended there was to be on the dairy judging team. Aaron worked on me for a couple years and finally convinced me to be on his team. I never would have dreamed that I would be able to experience all that I did. Our team was made up of people that I already knew through showing. We judged four contests while at KC. Each of us were the top individual, and each of us were the drop score. We finished in the top three at all of our contests. We won both World Dairy Expo and NAILE. It was an unbelievable two years. I am lucky enough to continue my judging career with two of my teammates at U of I. We were lucky to have the coach that we did to help us reach our ultimate goals.

033

Hanging out with this Cutie made KC a little better, too!

All in all, going to KC was a blessing. It was a nice way to introduce myself to college without culture shock of a big school. I was able to make true friendships and experience some great things. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world.