July 5, 2019
I stepped out of the door and yelled to my husband to grab my phone from the car. He quickly turned and mouthed, “You’re in the city.”
It’s not my fault. I was raised in the country, where yelling from the front or back porch was acceptable and often required. Honestly, I’m not sure I ever had a subdued, quiet city voice. And from an early age, my mom never squashed my verve or excitement.
Too often today, I hear parents telling kids, “Let’s use our inside voice.” But that can be so limiting when a 4-year-old is telling a story, especially for farm kids.
My nephew Tate is a ball of fire. When he tells me tales about his day, it is with loud noises, arms flailing and a little jumping. I laugh, partly because he is funny, and partly because that was me. Tate has a country voice.
He is growing up where running around the barn and hollering from the pasture is common. Plus, he must contend with four other siblings. Just to get into the conversation requires a little more effort, and in some cases, a little more volume. So, when he finally has your attention, he tells that tale.
Whether in the car or at the ballfield, I never interrupt or “shush” him. Why? Who knows where that energy or expression will take him? Will he be a sports announcer? An actor? A singer? A teacher? A basketball player? A salesman? A farmer?
In all these professions, it takes personality and a bit of storytelling. Yes, that’s right, farmers are ag orators. And now with social media providing audio and video, our farmers and ranchers are really able to tell their story, complete with all the emotion and personality — something I think young farmers already are capitalizing on.
One of my favorite Missouri next gen farmers to watch is Gavin Spoor. He’s a young man from Martinsburg, Mo., who raises popcorn, corn and soybeans. But what drew me in was his Facebook video on “Feeding livestock in the cold.”
Throughout his posts and videos, Gavin has a way of sharing agriculture’s message. He uses all his communication skills to bring home the difficulties farmers face with a little humor.
After watching Gavin’s videos, I realize that we should encourage kids to express themselves starting at a young age. It will take the entire agriculture community to develop those future farm storytellers.
So, parents, don’t be so drawn to your phones that you forget to focus. Look at your kids when they speak. Acknowledge them. Be interested in the tale. Praise their passion.
And for the older generation sitting in the barn on the bench at a livestock show, when that farm kid runs up to you, arms flailing, take a second to listen. Remember, one day not so long ago, someone made the time to listen to your kid’s tale — country voice and all.
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