A Feed Yard Foodie in Aggieland…

Anyone working in agriculture recognizes the name of Texas A & M University. Over the past 18 years, I have crossed paths with many Aggie alumni and each encounter left me intrigued by the deep seated love and faithfulness to this place called “Aggieland”. Perhaps most endearing is the fact that although Aggies are fiercely loyal, they are also openly friendly and engage respectfully with others outside of their alma mater. This special ability to be proud of their heritage while also focusing on broad spectrum leadership and devotion to selfless acts of sharing is a beautiful combination.

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Responding to an invitation to speak on campus, I traveled down to College Station, Texas with an intellectual curiosity and a desire to understand the culture of this unique land grant institution. I traveled back to my farm in Nebraska with an incredible respect for the faculty, students, and the core values that make Aggieland so exceptional. Honestly, I have rarely felt more welcome on a college campus, and the open friendliness that permeated the university grounds was inspirational.

It is no secret that agriculture in 2015 and beyond has many challenges. Outside of the regular need for continuous improvement that goes hand in hand with growing food, there exists a great chasm between farmers and their urban customers which is unfortunately separated by a rarely traveled bridge. As I look into the future, I recognize that our sustainability is intrinsically tied with our ability to interact respectfully.

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The journey is marked by:

  • The innate pride and loyalty to our chosen field combined with an intrinsic interest in the “outside world”.
  • The realization that it is in sharing that we learn how to solve our most difficult challenges — relying on a diverse population of participators to find the best answers.
  • The knowledge that the success of our outreach is closely tied to our ability to create an organized team to cross that lonely bridge in order to share “where food comes from”.

As I walked the streets of campus and visited with students and faculty, it became apparent to me that the culture at Texas A & M could provide the template for agriculture’s public outreach and educational effort to increase the transparency of food production. The university pillars of: Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect, and Selfless Service provide the foundation, the inherent positive attitude sets the stage for the engagement, and the “team mentality” and the Corps of Cadets coordination creates the movement that once again builds trust in the realm of food production.

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  • Perhaps what agriculture really needs is a 12th man to selflessly give to the common good,
  • A good “Yell leader” to teach us a universal cheer that both celebrates our uniqueness as well as reinforces our common ground,
  • And a friendly “Howdy” to start the conversation…

At the end of the day it isn’t about any one group or individual, rather the meaningful answer lies in our ability create loyalty and trust—both on and off the farm.

*Many thanks to Emily Von Edwins, Dr. Russell Cross, Dr. Tryon Wickersham and all of the Aggies that welcomed Megan and I last week. I hope that we enriched your lives as much as you enriched ours.

**Stay tuned for the next post, “Megan’s Mom in Aggieland”, which takes a look at Texas A & M from a different point of view…

6 Comments

Filed under A Farmer's View on Foodie Thoughts..., Foodie Work!

6 responses to “A Feed Yard Foodie in Aggieland…

  1. Heather

    Gig’em Aggs, so glad you had a great experience. The values of A & M run so deep and keep us rooted to the bettering of others.

    • Thank you, Heather. It was a special experience and I learned much while I was there sharing. I loved the culture and positive pulse of the university and want to delve into that more fully with my next post which is more personal in nature as I explore my thoughts as “Megan’s Mom”.

      Thanks for reading!
      Best,
      Anne

  2. theranchwifechronicles

    Anne,
    Glad you and Megan had a great trip to T A&M. How enlightening to visiting a far away place and feel so welcome and inspired.

    I like your bullet point thoughts.

    Here is some food for thought on the closing the gap issue: Mom and I have observed and talked about that it doesn’t take long to forget. People who grew up on a farm or ranch, move away and spend years in the city easily forget the responsibility production ag people have to their livestock and land. Those that should have a basic understanding about where their food comes from are in the middle of the gap and leaning towards the non-ag side. It’s fun to visit Grandparents on the farm, but the kids don’t have a clue about what their grandparents are doing.

    • You bring up a great point, Robyn. And one that will challenge us more and more into the future. Somehow we have to find a way to cross the “communication bridge” bidirectionally so that the gap can be closed. I think about this often and believe that motivation is a big issue relative to this topic as education cannot occur if it is not sought out.

      I truly think that the place to start is for agriculture to “pack together”, unite and form a team effort to share. It hurts my heart when farmers/cattlemen take “pot shots” at each other instead of focusing on common ground and celebrating individual differences in food production. I think that fixing this is the first step — then we try to figure out the challenge that you brought up. Without fixing the first one, I don’t see how we can be effective trying to fix the second one.

      I hope that all is well on the prairie. I imagine that you all are keeping plenty busy with the approach of fall! Thank you so much for reading and sharing. You always give me something to think about🙂

      Best,
      Anne

  3. lindsaychichester

    Hi Anne –
    Another Texas A&M phenomenon that always amazes me is how the clink of a class ring on a glass or other surface, in any location in the US, can draw other Aggies out of the woods. I have seen it happen in several states on various occasions. Perhaps this is what ag needs, a unique call to bring forth others with a common interest. ~ Lindsay

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