The Winning Ticket

Imagine winning the lottery. Not the lottery with millions of dollars, but the lottery of people. Imagine that you have the chance of being reborn into this same world. Of the 7 million people in the world, each person has a one in 7 million chance of being reborn as the same person again. What are the chances you are reborn as a middle class American with enough food to eat, clothing to wear and shelter?

At the beginning of November, I attended the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference where Howard G. Buffet was honored as an AFA Leader in Agriculture Award winner. In his acceptance speech, he reminded each of the delegates that we, as American agriculturists with food, clothing, clean water and shelter, have the winning lottery tickets. We may not be millionaires or billionaires, but we do not have to worry about where we’ll get our next meal. Our worry isn’t on whether or not our water is clean and safe to drink. We don’t need to be burdened looking for clothing to wear or a shelter to protect us from the elements. Just by being born in America, we have won the lottery.

Howard Buffett works to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished. Here he is educating about the importance of agriculture.

Howard Buffett works to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished. Here he is educating about the importance of agriculture.


As we look to the future, farmers have the resources to provide for the growing population. Researchers continue to develop, change and improve agricultural technologies. Ensuring the availability and access to technologies that will assist in providing a sustainable source of food for people around the world will increase the number of people who possess winning tickets.

Each day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a world renowned research institution, I am surrounded by students and faculty who are conducting research which will continue to enhance agricultural production practices. As I attend lectures and discussions I am able to learn more about technologies on the forefront of development. Technology isn’t some far off concept; innovative ways of production are crafted and explored daily. It is exciting to be part of a generation that will develop technology to continually increase the number of winning tickets people possess.

Individuals around the world deserve the chance at a winning ticket. With innovative technology, farmers in America and around the world will produce food to feed the 9 billion people that will inhabit the earth by 2050. It is the responsibility of each producer to be as efficient as possible to ensure food availability. Although it may not always feel like it, farmers in America have the winning ticket; we can and will continue to impact people throughout America and around the globe. Keep using your winning ticket to benefit your family, community and even our world.

First Memories Create a Burning Passion

As I think back on my life, I have always been involved in agriculture so picking just one memory or my first memory is a challenge. One of my most vivid memories is of Christmas as a young child. My family likes to give each other unique gifts, however the Griswold Family Christmas Eve was quite interesting this year.

The previous summer we had gone on vacation out west and stopped in Custer State Park. In Custer, there are wild donkeys and visitors are directed and asked not to feed the donkeys. However, the animals like to come up to the windows and love eating corn chips and Cheetos. My younger brother, sister and I all fell in love with the donkeys, but never expected to get one on Christmas Eve.

When we came home from church, both of my parents directed us down to the barn, since the light had been left on. We all entered cautiously, but were pushing my mother to go in first. You see, we were in on a secret too. For my Mom’s Christmas present, we had purchased some sheep. When she was a child and showed animals in 4-H, she showed sheep. Once she went to college she sold her sheep. The man who bought her sheep kept her herd registered separately. We were able to purchase some of the decedents from her original herd of sheep. As we pushed my mom into the barn, she pushed us in and my dad followed with a smile on his face. I think he was just excited we all made it and nobody found out about the secrets before they were supposed to! As we entered the barn we saw the sheep and in another pen was our baby donkey. It was an exciting Christmas Eve!

This is Sara, my sister with some of the newest lambs. Even years later we still have decedents of my mothers heard.

This is Sara, my sister with some of the newest lambs. Even years later we still have decedents of my mothers heard.


Later that evening my mom asked my brother, around 4 years old at the time what we should name the donkey. Since we got him for Christmas she suggested we name him something Christmas related. My innocent, little brother quickly spoke up and recommended the name Jesus for the donkey. My parents couldn’t hold in their laughter, but quickly decided that we couldn’t name our ass, Jesus. We later decided on the name King.
King the donkey isn't so little anymore. He still enjoys to be pet and he always loves it when we bring him apples!

King the donkey isn’t so little anymore. He still enjoys to be pet and he always loves it when we bring him apples!


I encourage you to share family memories involving agriculture. These stories don’t have to be extravagant Christmas memories; they can be simple day to day happenings on the farm. The personal stories and connections we share help our consumers connect with us on a personal basis and provide an outlet for them to ask questions. The next time you have a fun picture, story or even quote, I encourage you to blog, tweet, instagram and facebook them. The conversation starts today and doesn’t end until consumers are satisfied!