As I continued through school, my identity stayed the same, but the attitudes of my classmates changed. I still stuck out as the farm girl but in a different way. Taking the school bus I was frequently made fun of and was no longer “popular” due to my identity. Kids would crack jokes when they would see me getting off the bus at my farm because of the rich manure smell. I began to realize they didn’t understand farming practices. I was proud of my home and the fun I had taking care of my animals, however I would be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrassed. This was a tough thing to experience, but eventually I grew to be a stronger person because of the comments. I would try to speak out and defend the “horrible smell” but grew to be the person that just walked off the bus with a smile on my face, as I was proud to come home to the land that my family has worked so hard to preserve.
Then in high school, I realized that being the farm girl doesn’t have any physical meaning other than maybe the way students look at me. I finally understood that I was the same as my other classmates and the only difference was my work ethic, family values, and a strong commitment to community – principles I have learned from generations of my family. I no longer saw this identity in a negative way. Because of the hard work ethic I cultivate at home, in school, I am more likely to be responsible for my work and I put in my best effort in all that I do.
At the end of my high school career, I had to make a very important decision about where I was going to go to college. I toured in-state schools where I would major in elementary education and out-of-state schools where I would major in agricultural education. This drastic difference in choices made it really tough to narrow down my options and therefore I didn’t end up making my decision until the end of April. After a lot of consideration and after realizing my ambition to pursue my dream and passion of being an agricultural leader, I decided to pursue a degree in Agricultural Education at Kansas State University, a decision I am forever grateful for.
Now as I am entering into my Junior year of college, I am so grateful to sit alongside students who are just as interested in the agricultural industry as I am. It is really refreshing to be able to have conversations with peers that share the same passion for the agricultural industry. While I am fortunate to go to school where a large amount of the population has a background in agriculture, I believe I am also fortunate to come from the Northeast where that isn’t exactly the case.