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.

 

Allie cattle

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!

 

Allie cattle trailers

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

Brittani hogs

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.  

 

 

Why Do I Show Cattle?

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I have been a part of the show industry for about ten years now and I still get asked the simple question “Why do you show cattle?”. As I grew older and became more knowledgeable about the show industry, this was one of the best questions anyone could ask me. Being able to talk about something I love and learned so much from is beyond the best. I have grown up on our family farm and cow/calf operation all my life and there is nothing I am more proud to be a part of. Showing allowed me to fall in love with the cattle industry and gave me the chance to be successful in something that isn’t easy and takes a lot of hard work, but why do I show?

Showing cattle has taught me how to accept failure and move on from it. There is no worse feeling than receiving no achievement for all the hard work I put into these cattle but losing has taught me to push myself to be better. Trust me, any show kid knows how much work we put into our livestock. Waking up right when the summer sun is coming up to beat the heat to rinse, exercise, blow out, and feed these spoiled animals is not easy. Every single day we are pushing ourselves for the hope to have our cattle to their best potential at the end of the year.

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Showing has brought my family closer together. I would not be where I am today without the help of my family. The miles on the road, fast food suppers, and all the laughs is something I will always cherish. My little brother, Nicholas, just started showing a couple years ago and he is already doing better than me. I am so excited to teach him and watch where he goes with the industry I fell in love with so long ago. My Dad has pushed me to be where I am today and was the one who started this incredible journey for me. He has taught me so much and I will never be able to thank him enough.  My mom has never missed a show once and the endless support I receive from her and the rest of my family is something I will always be grateful for.

I have met so many great friends and families from the showing industry that I know I will always have lasting relationships with. I know I can always count on them for a helping hand to fit a leg, carry tack, move cattle to the wash rack, or even just a nice conversation. I have to thank the show industry for all the amazing people I have met and continue to meet.

Not only has showing helped me develop better personal qualities to be a more well-rounded, successful person, but it also introduced me to something I will continue to hold on to. Through all the hard work each and every day I put into my show cattle, I know I will always continue to do my best.

So, why do I show? It is my life, my passion, and my happiness.

 

Emily GroetekeEmily Groeteke is a junior at Boone Central High School. After graduation, she plans on attending the University of Nebraska Lincoln and plans on majoring in Agribusiness and a minor in Animal Science. She is very active in many activities, especially 4-H and FFA. Agriculture is the main focus in her life, and will continue a future in this industry.

 

 

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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Youth in Agriculture

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Agriculture is the driving force for the Nebraskan economy. With one fourth of our great state’s jobs being involved in agriculture, youth involvement has become crucial in keeping this industry thriving. In July, over 200 Nebraska students were able to network and meet with countless industry professionals at the 47th annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute. The institute is free of charge thanks to many generous donations, allowing young ag minded people to network and gain friendships with like-minded people across the state. “The opportunity to network and share idea with people from all over the state that have the same passion for agriculture as me.” Emily Zimmer, a Pleasanton senior said about her experience.

 

The average age for a farmer in the United States is 58.3 years, growing by 8 years in the past 30. Nebraska needs young farmers and ranchers and thanks to the many programs offered around the state youth have been able to find their path back to the farm. When asked how being involved with NAYI helped him make his decision on his future, Mikael Harrop, a recent graduate of Ansley Public Schools said “NAYI helped me choose what major I wanted to go into and pushed me to do things I thought i would never do.”

 

For myself, I have been involved with production agriculture my whole life. Growing up on a small cattle ranch and being involved in 4-H, but it wasn’t until my high school began an FFA chapter that I then myself into the field head first. Through my past advisor, a Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council Alumni, I was introduced to this program. Through my involvement I was able to find a career path that I have a true passion for, Agricultural Education and Beef production. Kate Cooper, a recent Waverly graduate said that for her “agriculture is about combining the tradition and innovation to provide healthy, high quality products for the world”.

 

Wyatt_2In an ever-changing industry, currently exploding with new technology, having the means to work with others from different backgrounds has been incredibly important for myself and many others. Major changes are coming our way, one being ethanol. Ethanol production in the United States displaced 560 million barrels of crude oil last year alone. This is just one of the many changes that the coming generation of agriculturalists will experience. KAAPA Ethanol was able to educate youth at NAYI about how this new change will positively affect our industry and future.

 

Youth across Nebraska are showing more and more passion and drive to become involved in agricultural careers. With the opportunities available and various social media platforms youth are staying connected and making connections across the state. Young people are not just the future, we are the present. Being involved in various agricultural groups I have seen how youth are changing, and will continue to change this industry to feed the world. I hope the world is ready for the change that is coming.

Nebraska Farm Bureau sponsored the 2018 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute held in Lincoln July 9-13.

 

Wyatt Hubbard

Wyatt Hubbard is a graduate of Elm Creek High School and is attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall double majoring in Animal Science and Agricultural Education. While in high school Wyatt was extremely involved in nearly every activity especially 4-H and FFA. Wyatt hopes to be able to expand his impact on social media while in The Crew and spread awareness for ag related issues and events. 

 

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