When I attended the Governor’s Scholar’s Program in 2006, it changed my life forever.
Along with the lifelong friends I made, I was exposed to consumers who knew nothing about where their food comes from. This experience ignited a passion in me to teach people about the hardworking men and women that produce their food.
Four years later, I returned to GSP as a Resident Adviser in a “non-agriculture” internship. I expected to help a new generation of scholars broaden their horizons and discover what they were truly passionate about.
I watched as these high school seniors made new friends, thought outside of the box and questioned the “memorize and recite” teaching method they’d become accustomed to in their high schools.
In this safe environment, scholars begin to reevaluate things they had taken for granted before.
In today’s society, food is one of those topics.
Since the scholars knew I had grown up on a farm, I quickly became a source for their questions.
I discussed animal care over lunch, crop subsidies while walking to class and how to order a steak while watching a frisbee game.
The experience was mutually beneficial.
I learned the types of questions the next generation of consumers are asking while the scholars had access to someone who could honestly and candidly answer them.
I even had the chance to teach a workshop called “Meet Your Meat and the People Who Raise It.”
My friends at the Kentucky Beef Council set me up with a great beef fajita recipe and some awesome “I <3 Beef” stuff.
The scholars and I cooked, ate and talked.
It was an open forum for questions about anything farm related: family farming, animal welfare, nutrition and safe cooking practices.
The participants enjoyed it so much that I repeated it for a new group of scholars.
When I returned to the farm and my “real job” as an agriculture journalist, I couldn’t stop reflecting on my experiences at GSP.
I’d been given a unique opportunity to interact with tomorrow’s consumer. I’d stepped out of my comfort zone and taken the time to learn from the non-ag community.
It wasn’t easy to spend 5 weeks away from the farm and the lifestyle I dearly love, but it was an experience that I hope will ultimately help me protect it.
When I attended the Governor’s Scholar’s Program in 2006, it changed my life forever. Who would have guessed that when I returned in 2010 it would have the same effect.