Some of my fondest memories, of course, involve farming. While my dad was a teacher, he also worked on the family farm. On that farm there was a rental house. I could not tell you the name of the couple that lived in the house, but I clearly remember that they were very nice and gave me treats when I would go farm with dad. One day while I was “helping” my dad on the farm, I saw the husband smoking. I was probably 5 years old, I marched over to their house knocked on the door and informed them, “If you smoke you choke if you booze you lose.”
I have no idea where this came from and I am sure my dad was mortified, though maybe a bit proud, when they told him what I had said. This is my first memory of being an advocate for what I thought was right. How do we learn to be an advocate at such a young age? I would be remiss if I didn’t say my upbringing played a huge part in how I became the person I am today. When I was 5 I was on an anti-smoking and anti-boozing mission...apparently.
I think my real calling has more to do with agriculture, but I had a funny start. Growing up in agriculture and in 4-H and FFA and raising livestock prepared me for my adult role in agriculture. I think we are all constantly figuring out the different ways we contribute to society. Finding our voice and continually learning how to effectively communicate is an ongoing process.
I feel very confident that if I was not a cute little child, my dad’s tenant would not have reacted in the same laughing manner. Today, as an adult, I have learned when to say what I believe and know to be true. Other times, though, it is more important to listen and hold back to be a more effective part of the conversation. Sometime we can be most influential when we say nothing at all. So, whether you are five or 85, stand up for what you believe in and be a courageous communicator.