Morgan Gunn was an Equine Ambassador who has shown leadership in our program, both locally as well as when she was able to come back as a Mentor the next year. She is in her first year of college at Texas A&M University. In her own words, here are ways that the Ambassador program impacted her.
One of the most difficult parts of being involved in agriculture, in my opinion, is explaining to others exactly what we do. As a youth heavily dedicated to the horse project, among many other animal projects, I spent a great deal of time trying to do just that. It is so incredibly difficult to explain in just a few words an industry that feeds, clothes and sustains the world, especially when so many individuals have become so detached from agriculture. Even those involved in the horse industry are responsible for advocating agriculture at large, and without my experiences as a horse ambassador, I would still be searching for the right words to say.
I found my passion for speaking, educating and advocating in 4-H, especially throughout my senior years. When I stumbled onto the Equine Ambassador program, I knew it would be the start of something great. Since then, a new world of leadership opportunities opened up, allowing me to advocate and educate more effectively than ever. While I greatly enjoyed hosting horsemanship clinics and other events within the horse world, I began pursuing opportunities to bring the horse world out to others. 4-H open houses, enrollment nights and other promotional events are an excellent way to reach new people who have never experienced 4-H, or what it has to offer. Taking this face-to-face, personal education farther has allowed thousands more to be impacted by participating in school tours and educational opportunities at stock shows and fairs. One of the most valuable methods of advocating, however, is to form a relationship with local newspapers and media. Sharing heart-warming stories about children turning their family horse into a show horse, or the birth of a newborn colt as a result a 4-Her’s horse breeding project, shines such a positive light on who we are and what we really do, especially amidst the abundance of negative news. Seeing the light in a horse-crazy little girl’s eyes as she learns that she can be involved with horses, even though a pony won’tfit in her backyard, is always rewarding. Even more rewarding is knowing that this spark is the beginning of a blaze, which will create another educated, passionate youth to extend our legacy and share our story. To this day, I am still connected to this network of youth, and have since sent three more individuals on to the horse ambassador program.
Today, I am pursuing an Animal Science major at Texas A&M University, thanks largely in part to my ambassador career. Some of the many things I took away from camp were a heightened motivation and passion for working hard, working with others and working towards a successful future in the industry, all of which have helped me succeed and survive my first semester. The network of people I formed through camp has also been an invaluable resource, and it is so wonderful to look around campus and see fellow ambassadors and adult leaders, always there for support and encouragement. The most valuable part of my time as an ambassador, however, has been learning to speak out boldly and bravely, yet with wisdom, patience and understanding. Before my time as an ambassador, I was passionate and on fire for agriculture, and was prone to either ignoring or steam-rolling my way over individuals who were against it. On the very first day of camp, when Dr. Zanolini began asking us infuriating questions and prodding our faces with iPad cameras, I knew that these habits would quickly have to change. College is a time of exploration and education, where people began to form their own opinions and decide what they believe about the world, including their opinions about agriculture. As a result of negative news and media stories, many individuals I know have formed a very poor opinion. The future of agriculture and the horse industry depends on our ability to share the truth in a knowledgeable, respectful, understanding way, and my time as an ambassador has taught me how to do just that. Being an ambassador is about so much more than attending a camp and performing community service. It is a way of life and a promise to protect our livelihood, share our story, and represent agriculture everywhere we go. I will not soon forget that, and will take it with me through college and the rest of my life!