My passion for agriculture started when I was a very young. I was barely able to walk (still in diapers) but I would be riding in the tractor with my dad to check cows. By the time I was seven or eight, I knew the numbers and family history behind almost every single cow in our herd. From the age of 9 to 18, I showed cattle, chickens and sheep. I grew up in an area that was very agriculture oriented. My community promoted agriculture, and everybody understood what I was doing with my livestock and what I was talking about when I said that I was going to move cows, work calves, or haul corn.
Fast forward to high school, when I was showing chickens and sheep at the state fair. The state fair brings in many families from a different background other than agriculture. I was asked so many questions about my animals and what I was doing to prepare them for the show. Being a country kid, I was amazed at how many kids and parents that had never touched a chicken or a sheep. I was so glad that I could share my life style with others. This is the moment that I started to realize how blessed I am to have grown up on a farm and to know where my food comes from. However, I also realized that there is a large population of people who don’t understand what happens to their food before it ends up on their plate.
Now that I’m in college, I can see the great importance of sharing my story of what happens during my daily life on a farm. As farmers and ranchers, we know what happens to the food on our plates, because we know how much care, time, and effort goes into our own crops and livestock. However, many of our consumers don’t know that, and they want to know the story behind the corn and beef on their plate. Let’s tell them that we got up at three in the morning to do calving checks, trudged through the mud, herded a cow/calf pair into the barn because the temperatures were below zero, and the cried because after staying up all night to tube feed a calf, it still didn’t make it. Tell them about planting in the mud, irrigating in the baking sun, and harvesting all through the night just to beat a snowstorm. Simply sharing a picture of what you do daily or telling a story about your day can go a long way. Something so simple can change a person’s perspective of the rural lifestyle. Making a connection and finding a common ground is so important in order to bring together producers and consumers.
Katharine Schudel attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and studies Animal Science. She grew up on a family farm south of North Loup where she raised crops and cattle. Katharine loves sharing the story of the American farmer and rancher to make a connection with people about how agriculture impacts their daily lives.