Once again I am pleased to have Missouri FFA officer Miriam Martin as a guest here on COUNTRY LINKed. She is sharing with us her experience of spending National Ag Day in Washington D.C.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all,” said a very wise woman by the name of Helen Keller. This was a lesson I was reminded of this past week as I made my way to Washington, D.C. in celebration of National Ag Day. I attended National Ag Day on behalf of the Missouri FFA Association along with another one of my state FFA officer teammates, Carlee Buckner. On our way out to D.C. our flight was cancelled and Carlee and I found ourselves headed to North Carolina instead, and then flying to D.C. the following morning, throwing an unexpected turn into our plans.
Once we arrived in D.C., Carlee and I participated in media training with Max Armstrong, Tom Brand, and Janet Adkison. Janet used to work for KMZU out of Carrollton and then moved to Nashville to work for RFDTV, she now covers the ag news for The Hill. She made an interesting point during the media training, Janet asked everyone in the room who had participated in livestock judging to raise their hands. It was almost everyone in the room. Janet then talked about how giving reasons, defending our opinions, and being able to make quick decisions were attributes we had acquired through judging and how those skills have served us well in getting here today. We also discussed congressional visit tips and protocol with other Missouri representatives and past national FFA officers who now work for congressmen or for the House Ag Committee.
That evening we stayed with other state FFA officers, National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) representatives, 4-H state officers, and Ag Future of America (AFA) representatives at the National 4-H Center. When we walked into the room at the 4-H Center that was filled with our peers, something dawned on me, I knew about fifty of the eighty people in the room. But they were from all across the country, different states, different backgrounds, yet we all shared the same mission. The mission of promoting agriculture, and because of that overarching purpose, we had crossed paths before, through conferences, conventions and trips. I stepped into a room full of friends who shared my passion, and that was an awesome feeling.
Tuesday morning we woke up to celebrate National Ag Day with snow falling softly as we made our way to The Hill; we spent the morning carrying the good news of agriculture to our senators and representatives. The Missouri group visited Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s office and Senator Roy Blunt’s office, where we met with chiefs of legislative staff and legislative advisers and discussed agriculture education and the importance of the agriculture community to American society, as well as our part in the global scheme of food production.
We then attended a luncheon where Orion Samuelson introduced Senator John Boozman from Arkansas, who spoke about the future of the agriculture industry. Carlee and I then headed home, in good spirits with a renewed hope that our congressman would have a better understanding of production agriculture and the way of life on our side of the fence. However, we ran into some bad weather and misfortune, our connecting flight home was cancelled and we wound up spending an extra day in Philadelphia. So we went and saw The Liberty Bell and tried to make the most of our time in Philly.
Then we finally made it home, back to the green hills, black cows, and farm life, where we belong. By our last flight we decided that we qualified as “casual fliers” and jumped into the fast line at the security check at the airport. Carlee and I learned a few lessons on this trip, the first one we were reminded of, is that you are the places you go, the people you meet, and the books you read. We got to go to some neat places on our trip, whether planned or unexpected, meet some fascinating people, from a man headed to Argentina to teach English, to a woman headed home from service in Germany. Secondly, we were reminded that growing up as farm kids teaches problem solving and the ability to stay calm in bad situations, skills that were important when we were trying to rebook flights after cancellations and delays. We found ourselves standing in long lines at customer service desks where we made new friends with the strangers around us, we talked to taxi cab drivers about why we were in town, and we even got to help a family who did not speak any English find their hotel room.
Had we not encountered the unusual circumstances that we did, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to tell our story to as nearly as many people, and the story of agriculture is one that needs to be told. Whether it’s to a taxi cab driver in downtown Philadelphia (who was playing a reading of the Quran on the radio), or a legislator making decisions in D.C. that will impact agriculture’s livelihood, they all need to understand where their food comes from. The National Ag Day theme was 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed, National Ag Day 2014 has come and gone, but the challenge of feeding people every day is very real. Sure the travel and site seeing and meeting new people was great fun, but the reason for our adventure was to spread the word, the promise of a better tomorrow, but this endeavor cannot be embarked up alone, I leave you with a question, a challenge, a purpose. What will you do to make agriculture’s tomorrow brighter than today?
Thank you Miriam for being a great representative from Missouri on National Ag Day. Who will answer her challenge? Share your ideas on how you can make agriculture’s tomorrow brighter than today by leaving a comment below.
Blessings to you,
Laurie – Country Link