When you hear the word “agriculture”, what words or images play in your mind? Perhaps you see an image of a combine plowing through a field. Maybe you think about the acres and acres of corn you see on your drive home. Maybe you think about cowboys, “southern accents”, that one Luke Bryan song, or that one person in your class who always came to school with mud on their boots. These ideas are small fractions of rural agriculture in the modern world.
When I tell people I’m an agriculture major, I usually get a lot of replies backed with stereotypes and assumptions. Most people ask me if I grew up on a farm or if I’m from a “farm town”. Although I did grow up in rural southern Ohio, I never considered a career in agriculture until a scholarship opportunity nearly fell into my lap my senior year of high school. I was desperate and driven to burst through every open door that would lead me to my dream school- Ohio State. Little did I know that this opportunity would change my life entirely.
Most people transition to college “knowing” what they want to study or exploring the freedom that comes with choosing your major. My agriculture scholarship had restrictions so I was indefinitely locked into the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. I was scared out of my mind and worried that I wouldn’t enjoy my classes or that I wouldn’t connect with any of my peers. To my surprise, I found a great need in the ag industry that I actually saw myself fulfilling- communication.
I would be lying if I told you that I perfectly molded to my peers. We had some similarities with our involvement in 4-H, but my projects consisted of cooking and scrapbooking, not livestock. Our families both worked with natural resources but my father worked in the lumber industry, not the agricultural industry. My school did not have an FFA program I could be involved in (until my senior year), I was not a 4-H camp counselor, nor did I grow up on a farm. Despite these contrasts that make me feel somehow less experienced, I have come to understand the advantages I have in communicating and analyzing my perspective and other’s perspectives of the ag industry.
I have realized that I do not fit into this perfect, square mold. I cannot morph comfortably into a box shape that confines my opportunities and achievements. But one year later and here I still stand, ready to shatter the glass ceiling that traps the future into oblivion about the raw truth of agriculture. I have found that I am most passionate about breaking the stereotype in a way that inspires other young people to pursue a career in agriculture. I am passionate about my role as a young women in agriculture. And because I am passionate, I am now confident that agriculture is for me.