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How a city girl wound up in agriculture

Emma Martin
TRANSFORMATION: Emma Martin looks forward to graduating soon from Purdue’s College of Agriculture, even though she grew up in downtown Indianapolis.
Commentary: Here is a personal story from a Purdue Ag student who grew up in a concrete jungle.

By Emma Martin

Growing up around buildings that seem to touch the sky and cars that fly past at what seems like the speed of light makes it easy to dismiss the thought of agriculture. I grew up in Indianapolis, where concrete is everywhere.

The greenery you see is nothing but pretty flowers and trees in front of businesses, or public parks that all seem to look the same. My mother always had a garden and I loved to help with it, but it never crossed my mind that my small backyard garden in the city was small-farm agriculture.

I loved everything about my garden, from planting seeds to watering the plants daily to picking them when they were finally ready. However, playing with my plants never seemed as fun or interesting as what was going on in the city. So I dabbled with agriculture but never really appreciated it.

How did I get here
Even though agriculture had always been something I was interested in, it was not what I originally came to Purdue University to study. It was not until halfway through my sophomore year that I even thought about agriculture. 

After finding that I didn’t like my current major, I talked to several friends in the College of Agriculture, who persuaded me to check it out. After I did, I fell in love. I fell in love with knowing where my food came from, and the process it had to go through to get to the public.

Purdue opened my eyes to the world of agriculture and the possibility of making it a career. I knew I could never abandon my city roots, and that’s what got me interested in the possibility of Extension work. 

However, I realized early on that I don’t want to work in the typical rural setting. I want to work in an urban-based setting, educating children about agriculture. That way I can influence those who have little to no agricultural knowledge about the impact agriculture has on everyone. 

The joy of passing on the knowledge of agriculture excited me more than I ever thought it could. I felt a sense of pride when I knew I could communicate how important agriculture is with people who appreciate it and open the eyes of people who have no understanding of its importance.

The next step
As I’ve gone through college, I’ve realized that if I had known about agriculture beforehand, I might have considered it when choosing my major, and ultimately my career, in the beginning, rather than halfway through. Urban agriculture sites are popping up everywhere in the city, but that doesn’t mean children or teens are taking advantage and learning about what agriculture offers. 

I want to educate “city kids” about agriculture early so when it comes time to make decisions like where to go to college and what major to choose, they have that little piece of knowledge that might flourish into a hobby, and then a love.

I will most likely never move into the country and start my own farm. It’s not who I am. I am a city girl, but I am a city girl who found what she loves and wants to spread that love to all the other city kids.

Martin is a senior in ag communication at Purdue University.

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