Finding Her Voice…

My favorite brunette entered the world in the year AF3 (year 3 of working at the feed yard).  She arrived three weeks early after a complicated pregnancy that wreaked havoc on our normal fall cattle processing chores. She came out screaming, and her birth (albeit a loud one) created one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

christmastreeagdonkey1-jpgI have spent the last 17 years watching her find her voice. From the first melodious baby sounds, to words, to sentences, and finally the mature and engaging insight (laced with a tad of sarcasm) that she routinely shares today. Last week, my favorite speech loving Haymaker spent three days in Cheyenne, WY at the National Forensics League Regional Qualifier competition.

She emerged a victor earning herself the right to compete this summer in Birmingham, AL at the National Finals in the International Extemporaneous speaking event. This event involves drawing a topic, spending the next 60 minutes writing a speech addressing it, and then delivering a 7 minute oratory to judges. The really talented kids give a poised, on topic speech complete with quoted sources to back up their argument — all without a note card…

It’s nothing short of awesome!

One day it occurred to me that perhaps Ashley Grace and I found our voices together.  As she grasped the English language and developed a knack for writing an engaging and organized speech, I opened my life outside of our family and our farm to help agriculture find its voice.  The art of public speaking and sharing the story of bovine feed yard life does not normally appear together in a feed yard manager’s skill set…But I found my niche as I found my voice.

In 2017, the need for eloquent and honest farmer voices grows exponentially as social media tops the list of “sources” for the discussion of healthy and responsibly raised food. We need our farm kids to learn the art of finding their voices just as we need them to learn the science that will allow agriculture to prosper on into the future. This unique combination of skills could well determine the stability and sustainability of our country’s food supply in addition to opening or closing the gate on many farmers’ individual agricultural journeys.

Monday I will make my way to Lincoln to be a guest lecturer at the University of Nebraska.  The goal of my lecture is to engage and inspire the next generation of farmers to effectively find their voices while they responsibly grow food. I am the first non-PhD to lead this particular yearly guest lecture on UNL’s agricultural campus — A sign of the growing importance of mentoring outside of the classroom in order to offer a more complex and multifaceted approach to education.

Just as I believe in the power of the next generation, I also believe that it will require the joining of the boots on the ground with the more traditional science background to prepare our future agricultural leaders. I am very proud to be able to play a role in that.

Unlike my favorite brunette, I will head to Lincoln with a pre-organized plan and a power point presentation.  However, I share her love of extemporaneous speaking which provides me with an incredibly useful tool when leading an intellectual discussion with a lecture hall full of gifted students.


My mom always taught me the importance of becoming adept at expressing my thoughts and ideas — I guess the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree 😉




Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, Farming, General

9 responses to “Finding Her Voice…

  1. Dave McClellan

    Thank you for being a willing and knowledgeable voice for the cattle industry and all of Ag.

  2. Roger Hunt

    First of all, congratulations to Ashley Grace!! The skill that you are blessed with and are developing will serve you all your life regardless of your vocational calling. Great job and good luck at the nationals!!

    Anne, I am glad to hear of your involvement with the college students. You certainly have skills and experience that will bring the importance of your message home to them regardless of their chosen field. Last week I hosted a honorary breakfast for our local FFA officers. I stressed to them the importance of sharing their agricultural story with others even if they ended up in a profession outside of agriculture. This was my course.

    Thanks Anne for all that you do.

  3. Anne – I know that you are so proud of your daughter’s accomplishments. I am the Birmingham, AL based county extension coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. If there are any questions about the town or venue I am happy to share information about my hometown. If you are travelling with Ashley Grace for the event I would love to explore the chance for you to share your story with some of our state’s agricultural leaders while you are in town. I actually learned about your blog from a social media share posted by the Alabama Cattlewomen’s Association.

    Keep speaking –


    • Thank you, Lisa! Please send me an email off this site from the “Ask me” section of the blog at the top of the home page so we can visit about logistics.

      I do not know for sure if I am traveling to Birmingham with AG as I coach the local swim team and the competition is right in the middle of the summer season. We will be figuring details out in the next couple of months.

      Keep in touch!

  4. Wish I could be there to hear you speak.. I know you will do well. 🙂 Ashley Grace is growing up to be pretty and smart young lady… I am sure you are very proud… she has so much of you in her which is bound to lead her to success 🙂

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