Stand up! Speak out! Share Ag!

Katharine _ 1My 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.

Katharine_2Now 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.

Spring Time on a Western Nebraska Cattle Ranch

It is finally spring time in Nebraska!  After a crazy winter, farmers and ranchers are ready to begin their spring work.  Our cattle have all been at our house since early February as we calved.  For ranchers around the state, it is time to get the cattle out to summer pasture.  Before cattle are ready to go to grass, there are a few things that must happen.  One major thing that happens on most ranches in the spring is branding.

 

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These cows made it just a few steps outside the gate and found a mouthful of green grass!

 

Growing up, branding has always been my favorite time of year.  It usually meant that I got to skip school for a day or two to come home and help out! Brandings are often great social events!  Many neighboring ranchers come together to help each other get the job done.  At a branding there are many things happening.  Calves are getting branded as a way for ranchers to identify their cattle should they accidentally get into a neighboring pasture.  Calves are also getting a shots.  These shots are given to prevent the calves from getting sick on summer pasture.  At the same time, the cows are often given shots too.  The cows are given shots to help them breed over the summer with a calf for next year.  Branding day is a fun yet tiring day.  Getting to work with the neighbors and joke around all day is great but by the end of the day everyone is ready for some supper and a place to sit down for a while.

Once all of the calves have been branded and given their shots and the cows have had their shots, it is time to take everyone to grass.  On our family ranch, we have to haul the cattle 20 miles from home to summer pasture.  The day we haul is another crazy day.  Many of our neighbors bring their pickups and trailers and we load up all the cattle that we can fit on and hit the road.  At times we have as many as 11 pickups and trailers going in our convoy.  It is a really cool thing to go down the road with all of us in a line, or maybe it is just us that think it is cool!

 

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The whole crew hauling cows!

Once we get to the pasture, we unload all of the cattle into a pen and let all the mammas find their babies and then we open the gates up and they have free range to the pasture.  In the fall, the cows will go back to corn stalks for the fall and part of the winter and then it’s back home to start the cycle all over again.

 

 

Allie PortenierAllie Portenier is a senior at Eustis-Farnam High School in western Nebraska. She plans on attending college to major in Ag Business with the intent of becoming a livestock auctioneer and raising cattle. She is involved in many activities including 4-H and FFA.

City Girl to a Show Girl

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Growing up I was never the person who wanted anything to do with livestock. I was more of the type who didn’t know anything about agriculture. In fact the only tie that I had to the agriculture community was my uncle’s farrowing farm. While growing up I spent a lot of time with my uncle in his pig barns. Being around the pigs, and livestock in general spiked an interest in the livestock. As time went on, I came to the conclusion that this community had many opportunities for me to succeed.

Brittani sheepWhen presented with the opportunity to show at the Knox County Fair, I was a little hesitant. After numerous hours training my animals, I was finally in the ring and knew that I was developing a passion for the agriculture industry. Showing at the Knox County Fair has taught me more than winning trophies. I have gained responsibility along with integrity. It takes someone with a huge amount of responsibility to get up every morning to go feed his or her livestock. Additionally, it takes someone with a huge amount of dedication to be the one working with his or her livestock year round. But, the most important concept that I have taken away from the Knox County Fair, that means the most to me, is integrity.

Brittani cattleI believe that everyone loves winning, but it takes grit to be the person that shakes everyone else’s hand and congratulates him or her when you are not the person winning. As hard as it is, winning is not everything. The lifelong friendships that have been made along with the character that has been built makes me truly thankful for the opportunity I received to show at the Knox County Fair.

 

Brittani Pospisil is a senior at Creighton High School in northeast Nebraska. After graduation she plans on attending Kansas State University to become a veterinarian. Brittani has a deep passion for agriculture and loves connecting with people who share the same love for agriculture.  

 

 

8 Tips to Host a Farm/Ranch Field Trip

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Inviting students to your farm or ranch gives a firsthand look at what farm life is like. Follow these tips from Ag Pen Pal volunteers on how to host a successful field trip at your farm or ranch! Continue reading

So What Do Your Parents Do?

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There have been a few times recently that I have asked one of my peers what their parents do. A question that is very standard that I would expect most people to know the answer to. My peers have proceeded to tell me that they aren’t really sure what their parents do or even what their job title is. I am shocked by this because growing up on a ranch, I know exactly what my parents do because I am doing it right alongside of them.

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Life on a Dairy Farm

Shelby - Dairy Farming 2We put it in our cereal. Kids drink it in their sippy cups. It is used as an ingredient in many of the things we make, yet it is something that most kids don’t get enough of. That’s right, I mean milk!

For this blog, I wanted to learn more about something I don’t know much about. I chose dairy as my subject to dive into, and because of this reason I got the opportunity to spend some time with some of my relatives on their dairy farm, Beauty View Guernseys, just west of Wahoo, NE. Continue reading

Meet the 2018-2019 Class of The Crew!

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Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified sixteen social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who share their love of agriculture through social media. Each member is selected in the spring and participates for one year. A Crew member:

  • Supports and amplifies Nebraska Farm Bureau and Foundation messages.
  • Creates original content to portray accurate agriculture messages.
  • Participates in facilitated learning sessions from industry professionals.
  • Leads social media advocacy for their generation.

Follow along this year as these students bring to life rural America through their work on social media!

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The Truth Behind Fear Based Marketing and Modern Agricultural Practices

The other day I decided to treat myself to a large bowl of ice cream. I was feeling like it needed a little extra something, so I decided to add some chocolate syrup and whipped cream. When I looked at the can of whipped cream, I had somewhat of an epiphany when I saw a bold label that said, “No Artificial Growth Hormones.”  I stared at the label as an agriculturalist and an advocate for the industry and began to understand why there is such a distrust between consumers and producers.

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Importance of Family in Agriculture

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We are often told to choose our words carefully. Sometimes we don’t pay any attention to the words that aren’t inappropriate or hurtful but in reality they are just as important. When attending Nebraska Agriculture Youth Institute a speaker gave us a chart of words to use when talking about agriculture to the consumers who are unaware of who we are as an industry. There was one group of words that really stuck out at me, the usage of operation compared to family farm or ranch. I’ve always considered our ranch as our family’s, but professionally speaking I have always referred to it as an operation. When thinking about Keystone Cattle Company and O-C Livestock I realized that it isn’t an operation but really my family’s home.

Grandparents:

The reasoning behind my agriculture influence. Both sides of my grandparents have given me the opportunity to grow up in the most amazing industry and I have learned so much about their lives through doing the same activities that they have enjoyed in their lifetimes. My Grandpa and Grandma O’Connor have blessed me to grow up in God’s Country. It seems as if I can’t go anywhere without hearing crazy stories about Grandpa. Some of my favorite time with family is spent talking about the older generations. One of my most memorable brandings was this year when my grandpa crawled onto my brothers rope horse and heeled two legs on his first loop. I have been beyond blessed to be apart of the Keystone Cattle Company. However my blessings don’t stop there. My love for 4-H might just come from the Merritt’s. I love to hear the story of my grandparents meeting on the steps of the White House as they represented Nebraska as the 4-H Four Square Winners. Still to this day my family will go through my grandfather’s old papers on his registered Maines and his long line of show quarter horses. I love hearing people talk about how successful my Grandpa was in this tough industry, and even to this day my family and I wish we had his good eye to help us pick out our stock for the year. I love learning more about my family and am blessed to learn about the lives of my loved ones.

Mom:

Perhaps the biggest influence of agriculture in my lifetime. If anyone knows my Mom you know that pigs won’t be far behind. Growing up, raised by Nebraska 4-H’s Queen and King,she fell in love with the organization and has passed that down to my brothers and I. Her father, having a variety of operations, presented her with a chance to work on their feedlot growing up, show some awesome show horses, and be involved with showing livestock competitively. Her love for agriculture met her profession when  she traded out special education for a job at the local grain elevator. Though she was just  wanting to help out during the harvest season, her love for ag lead her to being the commodity trader for a feedlot and now a manager for a feed store. I have seen my mother put much time and money into spoiling my brothers and I with some awesome livestock, hotels for shows, and of course a fair amount of carnival food. I wouldn’t be as successful in FFA, 4-H or any other activities if it wasn’t for her support. Her ability to network with everyone in the industry shows me how important relationships are. I love sitting in the show barn doing nothing with her and aspire to be such as great of female agriculturalist as she is.

Dad:

The passing of my father last year has allowed me to learn so much about him in such a short time. Hearing stories about his success in high school and college rodeo inspires me to chase after my dreams. My father served as a regional director for both high school and college rodeo, which gives me a sense of where my strong leadership skills come from. Also the amount of support and friends he had, shows me that the all the relationships  built in the agriculture family are those of gold. 

Merritt:

My oldest brother is completely responsible for my future in agriculture. The year he left me to do my own chores had me worried, but being forced to be in the barn by myself made me realize his love spending time with his livestock. After chasing his dreams of judging livestock in college it has made me work hard to be more like him. From Casper College to South Dakota State, he has grown as an agriculturalist and man as he prepares to be in the workforce in agriculture. I can’t wait to see where this industry takes him.

Rhett:

Lastly my brother Rhett. Yep, you guessed it, Rhett is “that brother.” The one that is so close to home, but  we don’t ever see him because he is busy experiencing new things, but mostly you can’t get him out of the roping arena. Rhett has demonstrated the importance of finding your perfect place while at school where he has excelled in his rodeoing and academics. Rhett’s good work ethic, love for talking, and positive attitude will make him do great things while running the Keystone Cattle Company in the future. 

After thinking long  and hard about how the words “family ranches” are more appealing than operations it made me think about how my operation would differ if it weren’t for my family. Agriculture is one of the fastest advancing industries yet it sits strong on a foundation of tradition and family. The closeness of family operations prove to be than producing goods but instead making a living worth loving. The future of agriculture will continue to grow but the tradition of the family farms and ranches will stand strong for ever.

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Carrying on the Family Tradition at the Denver Stockyards

In the midst of mud from the freshly melted six inches of snow, miles of pens, and the hum of generators, I stand above the ground and take in my surroundings. The catwalk in the Denver stock yards is one of my favorite places in the world.  On it, I am able to look over a place that has historic value, as well as significance to my family.

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One of my favorite memories was this past January, seeing my photo on the Wall of Champions in the Yards as National Hereford Queen, since my parents and grandparents are on the wall, too. I am the fourth generation of both sides of my family to exhibit cattle at the National Western Stock Show, and the fifth generation on both sides to raise Hereford cattle.

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Photo Credit: Michelle Wolfrey

While these two traditions have uniquely influenced my life, the broader traditions of agriculture run deep in many families, such as my own.  There are technical traditions, such as branding cattle with the brand (and sometimes the same branding irons!) that have been in a family for years.  There are also traditions of agricultural life that are more so associated with values and soft skills.  For example, when I think of integrity, I think of a cowboy, because the image that most people have of a cowboy is a kind person who always helps and does the right thing.  Other traditions of agricultural life include grit, courage, and passion. These are a handful of the reasons that I am proud of the traditions that I keep as part of an agricultural family.

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