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'City kid' O'Brien wins National Ag Day advocacy award

'City kid' O'Brien wins National Ag Day advocacy award
New Jersey's Christina O'Brien's passion for ag advocacy earns The Ag Council of America's National Ag Day honor.

On Wednesday, March 16, Christina O’Brien will be feted at the National Ag Day Celebration of Agriculture Dinner in Washington, D.C. O’Brien of Bridgewater, N.J., was named the Agriculture Council of America’s Charles Eastin Award recipient. The award recognizes stand-out advocates for accurate communications between rural and urban audiences.

Related: Ag Day essay, video contest winners announced

HER TRUE LOVE: As O’Brien puts it: “The dairy industry is where my heart truly lies.”

Wanna-be farm kid rises like cream
O’Brien is proof you don’t have to be a farm kid to be outstanding in agriculture. Her passion for agriculture caught fire when Norz Hill Farm of Hillsborough, N.J., leased a registered Holstein calf to the then12-year-old. “From there on, I was hooked,” she says.

“The Norz family was the first farm to lease livestock to me,” she adds. “It’s been 11 years now, and I still show dairy cattle and sheep for them.”

A few years later, this youth started breeding and showing registered Oxfords through Christy Farms, another 4-H lease farm. “As my flock grew, I realized I needed more pasture and went back into business with Norz Hill Farm, raising a flock for market lamb and competitive showing.

“I truly owe my love of agriculture to the Norz family,” she says. “Without their patience and education, I would've never gone on to joining and eventually coaching our state daily quiz bowl team, state dairy judging team, and various other originations along the way.

Through Norz Farms, she also worked with Black Angus cattle, boer goats and swine. That also helped set the stage for what she calls “agvocacy” work with rural and urban youths.

Par excellence outreacher
As the 2010 County Dairy Princess, O’Brien planned and coordinated an event at the local YMCA featuring ag questions, prizes, milk and cheese, plus healthy recipes for well-balanced diets. As a 4-H leader, she ran a workshop for "Science-sational Day” workshop, bringing in baby livestock and educating young children.

Through Norz Hill, she has planned field days teaching kids how to care for livestock. O’Brien serves as a junior advisor to the New Jersey Holstein Association. She initiated a lease program for the Garden State Sheep Breeders, and currently leases out her Oxford sheep to four inner city girls.

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