Thankful for Agriculture

I was on the phone with my mom last night and when she asked what my plans were for the evening I told her I had a Collegiate Farm Bureau meeting. Tonight I had a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Ambassador meeting and tomorrow evening I will be attending a planning meeting with other students to prepare a presentation for the Farm and Industry Short Course students. My mom asked me if I was okay, if I was tired and worn out, “You are always at meetings. Don’t push yourself.”

Mom, thank you for your concern; it means the world to me, but I want you to know that I am blessed. I’ve been blessed with the ability and talent to contribute and blessed beyond belief with the people I get to work with on a daily basis. I am stressed and I do push myself and you aren’t the first person to tell me that I am always at meetings, I am overly involved and that I shouldn’t commit to too much. It is okay though, because I love the people I get to work with, people I have met in the industry and people who continue to influence me and have a positive impact on my life.

The people are what make the agriculture industry and encourage me to stay active, motivate me to do more and help me to succeed. I love you, Mom, and thank you, but just remember that you and Dad raised me to be committed, active and involved, to use my talents and to make the world a better place. I try to do all of those things and look forward to leaving my own footprint on the industry.

After my meeting last night I was able to participate in the last hour of #foodchat. The second reason I am thankful to be involved in agriculture is because the people in this industry have a passion for what they do. Farmers have a passion for the outdoors and compassion for the livestock that feed and clothe us. Over the last few years social media presence has grown to the volume where we can have conversations with people around the US and across the world about agriculture nearly every week with #agchat and #foodchat on twitter. I am thankful for the passion that is shared through these social media conversations.

Between my tweets, I tuned in to the last half hour of the Food Dialogue chat going on in Iowa last night. I am thankful to be involved in an industry that makes a difference. Without agriculture people would be both naked and hungry.

As thanksgiving approaches and the end of the College Aggies Contest is right around the corner, I reflect on the things I am thankful for and the impact that the agriculture industry has had on me.

So why am I thankful to be involved in agriculture? It is the people, the passion and the importance of what we do. We feed and clothe the world. Without farmers, producers, processors and all of the millions of people that contribute to agriculture our world would be a pretty tough place to live.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to thank a farmer or agriculturalist for their commitment to feeding and clothing the world.


Food and the Future!

Nearly one out of every eight people goes to bed hungry. That is 842 million people who don’t know where they will find their next meal. That is parents who go to work without a pay check big enough to pay for food. That is children dying because they aren’t able to scrounge for enough nutritious food. That is families torn apart simply because they don’t have access to food. As the population continues to grow, food insecurity becomes a bigger problem.

According to the World Health Organization, food security is built on three pillars. Food availability, food access and food use all are components of food security. Making sure there are sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis is food availability. Access to food involves having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Lastly, use is defined by the knowledge of basic nutrition and care as well as adequate water and sanitation.

There are many debates about the amount of food available to adequately feed the world. The future needs of food, national food security related to global trade and the benefits and challenges involved with globalization are all involved.

I am lucky to have been born into a family who didn’t have to worry about where our next meal came from. Unfortunately, some people struggle daily to find food daily. They aren’t able to live a normal life, as their stomachs hunger for nutrition. As a society and world, we need to come up with innovative agriculture solutions to feed our growing population.

The Agriculture Innovation Prize sponsored by the Howard Buffett Foundation is one way in which we can help to solve the world’s food insecurity problems. The contest focuses on innovative ways to improve agriculture. That doesn’t just mean on the farm changes though. It encompasses the entire food system supply chain. Anything that involves land access and soil sustainability, agriculture production, distribution and aggregation, food processing and manufacturing, preparation-consumer and institutional products, and resource and waste recovery all encompass the contest.

Have an innovative agriculture idea? Think you have the next best way to solve a big problem related to farming, food, resources and waste? Please apply for the Agriculture Innovation Award. Details can be found at The entry deadline is February 28th, 2014. All you need for an entry is ten slides and a two page report. You could change the world with simply a ten slide entry and a few paragraphs explaining your idea.
Twenty five teams will be selected to compete in Madison, Wisconsin for the grand prize awards in April. There will be five winners. The grand prize winner will win $100,000 prize and the other four finalists will get $25,000 dollars. There will also be an audience choice award in the amount of $15,000.

I have been honored to be able to work with this project. Currently we are in the process of selecting speakers for the Key Note. I am not lying when I say that we are really dreaming big and aiming to get a large name to campus to provide inspiration for the contestants and audience.

Again, if you are interested or have an idea, big or small, that could change agriculture please visit and apply for this enormous award! You could make a difference in the lives of thousands of people who are affected by hunger.

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!