February 4, 2013 § 1 Comment
I’ve loved Paul Harvey’s “So God made a farmer” poem since I first heard it as a junior high FFA member. With that said, I have mixed feelings about the Dodge commercial.
The ad was beyond effective, tugging at viewers’ heartstrings and showing our industry in a soft, romantic light. Additionally, it prompts people to support the National FFA, an organization that I strongly believe in. What I dislike is the side effect, the social media response that I’ve witnessed from farmers with comments like, “See! This is what we’ve been trying to tell you,” and, “Don’t forget who grows your food.”
I’m proud of my agricultural roots, and that my chosen path will allow me to make a difference in the world, however small. I’m proud of my friends and partners in this industry, and I understand the frustration that stems from consumer misunderstanding. But let’s not take the gift of the Dodge commercial and make it a weapon. No one appreciates condescension, and “waging war” on what we often view as consumer misinformation is not the answer.
Start a conversation. Explain how and why we do what we do. Show a friend Dodge Trucks’ “So God made a farmer” commercial.
But please, don’t make me a martyr to prove your point.
December 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Here is a snapshot of my evening.
Actually, it’s a snapshot of how I’ve spent the last few evenings. And a projection of the majority of next week as well.
Although MSU’s final exam week doesn’t officially start until next Monday, my lovely, caring… downright sadistic professors decided to do me a solid (yeah, right) and spread mine out over two weeks.
Joy to the world.
Sure, it’s nice that my exams aren’t stacked on top of each other, but it’s also extremely inconvenient. You see, I usually put the rest of my life (work, meetings, etc.) on hold for finals week. Not so much for finals-week-number-one-of-two.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time in the library, and learning a lot of useful things. Allow me to regale you with my newfound knowledge:
Lessons from the Library, Installment I:
1. “So the next morning, I realized that Adderall and Tequila like, don’t mix.”
2. “Screw this class. I’m going to be a stripper. Stripper’s don’t need calculus.“
3. (phone conversation:) “Dude I’m on the 3rd floor, by the doors with the red stop signs that say ‘alarm will sound.’ Just don’t open the doors – the alarm really does sound!”
4. “Yes, you will be judged if you wear your snuggie to the study group tomorrow night.”
5. “My Asian math professor is so hard to understand. It’s like she’s from a different country or something.”
Disclaimer: all previous quotes were from unknown (to me) and/or unseen sources (I hang out in a cubicle). Credit for the aforementioned goes to Randoms of the Library on 12/3/12 and 12/5/12.
November 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last week I went Black Friday shopping with my best friend Marquee.
For those that ask why anyone would want to risk life, limb and sanity by braving the crowds of Flint stores in the middle of the night; I love shopping. I’m also on the strict budget of a poor college student, yet pride myself on being an awesome gift-giver.
Basically, I refuse to pay full retail price for anything.
So, Marquee and I waited for two hours outside Kohl’s for the midnight opening, and actually ended up being around the 10th person mark in line. The wait was actually pretty nice – it gave us the chance to catch up on some things and gossip about some others.
In true Black Friday fashion as midnight neared, so did the line jumpers. In an attempt to forgo the line of loyal, hard-core shoppers like us, masses of people crowded near the doors to try to force their way in. As the doors opened and we power-walked to the items we were after, I looked back and witnessed a largish man face palming a line jumper while yelling (think deep baritone here):
“NO! You go to the BACK of the line!”
I wish we had had more time to laugh about it.
Similar to many other shoppers, we entered the store with a strategy. Since I was after several of the big-ticket, highly advertised and heavily discounted items, we completed my shopping first. Once my list was completed, I staked out a spot in the checkout line while Mar finished her shopping.
While waiting, I witnessed intensity from another shopper that amazed me.
A rather petite woman removed a men’s dress tie (one of the specials) from a box, tied it around her head ninja-style, forced her way back into the racks, and continued shopping.
Whoa. Shit just got real.
Fortunately, Mar returned to the front of the store shortly thereafter, and we were able to check out before throwing stars made an appearance.
The amazing thing is that even in crowded aisles, knocked over displays and cart crashes, the majority of Black Friday shoppers were extremely polite. We actually witnessed a warm-fuzzy moment outside the store when a 30-something woman returned to her car in order to offer a chair to the elderly lady waiting alone ahead of us.
‘Tis the season.
November 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
After eleven months of constant travel, a few hundred sets of oral reasons, countless steno notepads and four cans of Niagara Heavy Spray Starch, my career as an intercollegiate livestock judging contestant is over.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the stands of the NSR Fall Classic weanling pig sale in Duncan, Oklahoma, people-watching. It’s pretty amazing how many of the breeders here are familiar faces after visiting their farms for workouts or delivering oral reasons to them in their capacity as contest officials.
Even more amazing is the conversation I just had with a sales rep from a well known feed company. After seeing Kevin’s MSU Livestock Judging hat from the 2012 golf outing, he engaged us in conversation by first asking if we actually had any livestock “up there in Michigan”.
It’s no secret that as far as livestock-producing states go, Michigan is pretty low on the totem pole… especially where the show ring is considered.
Painfully aware of this, we had a good laugh with the gentleman, then proceeded to discuss my judging experience with him. After he asked what I plan to do with myself in all of my free time now that the judging season is over, I responded, “oh, I suppose I’ll turn my attention to finding a job.”
He reiterated a sentiment I’ve heard many times this year, “after judging, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a job in this industry.”
Glad to hear it.
In addition to (apparently) increasing my employability, judging gave me the opportunity to travel, pursue my passion for the livestock industry, and develop lasting relationships with my teammates (who crossed the line from friendship to family a LONG time ago), all while learning from three of the most successful men in the livestock industry.
Thank you to my teammates and coaches, as well as family, coworkers and anyone else that I’ve told, “sorry that doesn’t work… I have a judging conflict.” I appreciate your understanding and support of my goals.
It’s been hard. It’s been frustrating. It’s been stressful.
And it’s been tremendously rewarding.
July 25, 2012 § 1 Comment
This past Sunday, Kevin and I were driving home from a 4-H event when our discussion turned to a local county fair and the actions that some students (and parents!) had taken against a youth exhibitor and his family. With behavior that could only be described as bullying, 4-Hers and their families made the boy feel like an outsider in the livestock barns; making statements about how he “felt entitled” and “thought he was better than everyone else” simply because he had decided to step outside his comfort zone and show at jackpots and state shows outside of his county this year.
As someone that knows the boy very well, I can confidently say that the sense of entitlement he has been accused of is simply not there. He belongs to one of the most honest, hardworking families that I have had the pleasure to work with. Furthermore, he has worked his heart out this summer only to have his butt kicked at all but one of those shows that he attended. There’s a growth curve involved with showing livestock, and he understands that. The concept that is harder to grasp is why some families feel the need to ridicule those that go the extra mile.
After posting a status about the issue, and how I am appalled that 4-H, an organization whose slogan is “Making the Best Better” is failing to teach students to take accountability for their own choices, I received an outpouring of support and agreement from my Facebook community. More accurately, 30 “likes” and 18 comments of other livestock families sharing their own horror stories of the times when other people made them question their own hard work… at the county fair.
I am continually amazed that rude, petty, and degrading behavior is more commonly witnessed at county fairs that it is at state and national shows. After all, shouldn’t competitive nature be boosted when hundreds of thousands of dollars and trailers are on the line, rather than just a twenty dollar trophy and the first sale spot at the local auction? In my experience, that hasn’t been the case. The folks we’ve encountered at larger state and national shows have never been anything but polite and supportive – a community worthy of the 4-H name.
I’m proud of the time that I spent in 4-H. I’m proud to be one of the kids that has always tried a little bit harder to reach a little bit farther. I’m also proud to now have the opportunity to mentor and teach the outstanding youth of the livestock industry.
What I’m not proud of is the behavior that I’ve witnessed in recent years that has become associated with the “Freddy 4-Her”.
If the county fair is a fun activity that your family partakes in each year to teach your kids the responsibility of caring for livestock and make a few dollars for college, then I applaud you.
If your children’s livestock project has been taken to the next step in order to teach them the amount of work that it takes to run a larger scale business, then I also applaud you. A lot of time and effort goes into banner chasing.
Each family sets out reaching for different goals in the show ring, whether it’s to win the show or simply not get last in the class. However, as representatives of an organization like 4-H, there are some goals that we should ALWAYS shoot for:
Hard work. Sportsmanship. Integrity.
Making the best better.
July 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Lately I’ve failed at blogging. In this case, lately means since March. Sorry to those that read my ramblings!
This summer (like the last few) has been a whirlwind of work, class, showing pigs, and more work. Good thing I like my job! This week is Ag Expo week, meaning that my days are devoted to making Michigan’s largest outdoor farm show a positive experience for the 250+ vendors and over 15,000 visitors that visit the show. Tomorrow is the last day of the show, and so far we’ve had some great feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike.
Tonight I agreed to judge a second county fair sweepstakes this summer (I judged one last saturday), and I am planning a hog showmanship and judging clinic with a 4-H club in Lapeer County. A few weeks ago I spent a Sunday morning working on the same subjects with a beef group in Livingston County, and learned just as much from the kids as they learned from me! It reminded me how much I’ve missed working closely with youth to help them ignite their passion for agriculture.
Stay tuned, I just promised myself I’ll hop back on the blog train and write more often!
March 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Meet the Judging Team” post 2 of 4.
My name is Taylor Harrison, known as Tay Tay by some of my fellow team members. I am from the metropolis of Coldwater, MI where I have grown up all my life. My family owns a small farm, Prairie View Farms where we have about 900 acres. We rent out our land to be farmed and the rest is hayfields and pasture. We have about 20 club calf cows and we sell their steer progeny in the fall privately to local 4-Hers. I select one of our own as well to show. I was lucky to have Champion Chiania with a steer we bred and owned at last years Michigan Livestock Expo (MLE).
I graduated from Bronson High School in 2009. I was involved in basketball, volleyball, softball, National Honors Society, Varsity Club, SADD and Big Brothers/Sisters Mentoring Program. I have also been involved in 4-H my whole life showing cattle at county fair, state shows and other various shows in the nearby states. After high school is where my journey began. I am a junior at Michigan State majoring in animal science/pre-vet. I work at the MSU Purebred Beef Barn, am a member of Sigma Alpha sorority and Block and Bridle Club along with judging. I also still actively show steers which I have done now for 13 years. My future plans are to go to vet school out west and one day settle down and own my own vet practice along a club calf operation.
I joined the livestock judging team because I have always had an interest in judging one day at the big shows, but also because I wanted to expand beyond my cattle background. I felt it would also benefit me in the future because of the people I meet along the way and the places I see. Are there some days that are really challenging? Of course, but I have great teammates and coaches who keep me going. And I wouldn’t trade the goofy van rides or inside jokes for anything.
Although I would classify myself as your ordinary college girl, I have my quirks as well. A couple fun facts about me are that it is a pet peeve of mine to open any bag upside and you will always find me walking on the right side in a group, never left. The left side just feels awkward to me