My family and I led our show calves last night under the setting sun, with three generations represented and the occasional barn cat trickling out to see what was up. The weather was gorgeous, the calves did well, Jenna regained some confidence.
And it struck me, as we turned the calves loose and headed to the house: this is the life.
It's the dream, right? For the farm girl from southern Illinois who really just wanted to show cows, to get to spend an evening at a 4-H meeting, then leading calves around the lot out back, with her three children, husband and mother-in-law? This is a pretty sweet deal. And it's far more than what I ever imagined possible.
I've been thinking on passion this week, as FFAers from across the state gather in Springfield for their state convention. You don't need a Facebook status (though there have been a lot of them) to know these young people are passionate about FFA and about agriculture. It's pretty much electrifying to stand in the arena with them.
Honestly, it's not unlike hanging out with a group of Master Farmers. Sure, the age difference is vast (!), but the passion is the same. And the thing that strikes me with Master Farmers over the years is that although they may have been farming for 40 or 50 years, they haven't worked a day in their lives. That's because they get up every day and go out and do that thing they were born to do.
In a lot of ways, I feel the same. I was fortunate enough to discover a career field that matched my passion early on in college – though I began at U of I as a pre-med major, I discovered this thing called ag communications and was sold on it by, say, October of my freshman year. I've never looked back, and I was fortunate enough to find a job at the oldest and most venerable farm publication in the country that puts to work my skills and my passion. I wrote a couple years back about finding your passion – that thing that makes you want to get up in the morning and do good work – and that hasn't changed. If you find your passion and find a way to get paid to do it, you'll never work a day in your life. Just like those Master Farmers.
And if you work hard and exercise patience and do good work, you might just find yourself shaking your head at your good fortune, surrounded by cattle and kids on a perfect summer night and writing about it all a little bit later, and wondering how it all happened.
Life is good. Agriculture is good. And the people and their passion are what drives it all. May each of those young FFAers gathered in Springfield find that thing they are passionate about in the coming years.
That'll be good for us all.
A final note: If you're on Facebook and would like to show your FFA support this week, Erin Ehnle at Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl can help. Click here to download her customized FFA banner and use it as your Facebook cover photo. Read more about her here, and thanks, Erin, for your FFA support and limitless creativity!
A final final note (really): This blog is also appearing on the Illinois Farm Bureau's Youth Education in Agriculture blog today, where they're spending the week encouraging young people to find their passion in an agricultural career. Click on over and check out the great things they're doing.