Find your ‘why’ in life

Jevtic/Getty Images Female farmer walking outdoors towards tractor in field with back to camera
FIND YOUR WHY: Young farmers should start their careers by identifying what drives them to farm and why it is important to them.
College Farmer: Take time to develop your own set of core beliefs about life, family, farming and career.

During my internship last summer, I received one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given: “The biggest opportunities are often the ones you don’t see coming.”

Although I’m not typically one to believe in coincidences, Missouri Ruralist editor Mindy Ward reached out to me just a few days later to see if I would be interested in serving as the next College Farmer columnist. As you can imagine, it was an easy, “Yes!”

At the time, I was preparing to enter my senior year at the University of Missouri in Columbia. In January, I relocated to Stillwater, Okla., and transitioned into the roles of graduate student and teaching assistant at Oklahoma State University. What a difference a few months — and more than 400 miles away from home — can make.

I thought long and hard about the message I wanted to share in my last column. Suddenly, inspiration hit at just the right moment. I remembered a “credo” I wrote in my ethics in agricultural communications course this past semester.

For the assignment, my classmates and I were challenged to summarize our core beliefs into a short, but meaningful statement. Here’s mine:

"I believe being raised on a family farm is a privilege few get to experience, but will directly shape one’s character, values and perspective. 
 
"As a homegrown, self-proclaimed “farm kid,” I consider it an honor to grow up in an environment where every encounter is a chance to learn and grow. In my life, the greatest — and often toughest — lessons were taught in the tractor cab, livestock barn and show ring, and at the kitchen table. Likewise, being surrounded by crops, livestock and equipment instilled a deep understanding of how to work hard, extend gratitude and place others’ needs before my own. 
 
"Being involved in agriculture is not for the faint of heart, and I believe there is a reason faith, family and farming are often associated with one another. Aside from simple alliteration, few professions and/or lifestyles are bound to the same rhythms and fickleness of nature and strive to provide products for people they will likely never meet. Even fewer have the opportunity to work, labor and toil alongside those who share the same bloodline and traditions. 
 
"From my perspective, individuals within the agricultural industry are a special breed marked by humility, selflessness and patience. They are easily identifiable by the way they carry themselves and, more importantly, treat others. While seeking to honor and respect those who came before them, they simultaneously pave a path for future generations. Simply put, I am honored to not only know these people, but to be one of them." 

If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s the agricultural industry keeps both you and I grounded and connected. As we grow and change, crops still grow, livestock still graze, equipment still runs, and life on a farm will continue to carry on. Above all else, I want to thank you for this opportunity to share my heart with you over the past few months — it’s one I will forever treasure.

Quinlan graduated from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources with a degree in agriculture education, communications and leadership. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Oklahoma State University. Contact her at lauren.quinlan@okstate.edu.

TAGS: Farm Life
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