The Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador program has made a significant impact on my life. At the age of fourteen, I was pushed into the Livestock Ambassador program. My dad was determined to get me there by all means possible. I had grown up showing mostly swine with the occasional lamb and steer, and my family owned a commercial cow/calf operation. However, I was not really interested in agriculture. My dad was a county Extension agent at the time and I associated ag and livestock production with the horribly boring lectures I got when I was trapped in a vehicle for hours at a time and had no place to run. It did not make me feel any better when I walked into the Pierce Pavilion on the first day of the short course in 2013 and realized that I did not recognize a single face. As the baby of the group I was pretty shy for the first oh twelve minutes but eventually broke out of my shell and the friends I made that week have stuck by my side since then. I was not sure what to expect when my dad dropped me off that morning but the learning began and agriculture and livestock production began to literally grow on me. The speakers were relatable and encouraging. I was a little intimidated by the knowledge of my peers but it taught me that others will always know more than me and I can only learn more from them. At the end of the week I left realizing that I truly do care about agriculture and livestock production, and I have probably said it a thousand times since that week but a true passion was ignited inside me.
Soon after my initial experience, I began giving presentations and teaching others as much as I could about livestock production. As an ambassador, I have worked booths at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, commodity carnivals, the Texas State Capitol, Texas 4-H Roundup and I have walked around the Kroger aisles for hours on end teaching consumers where their food comes from. Each experience came with new people, new ideas, new conversations, and new fires. I have been able to meet those who would not buy beef from Kroger because they were not fed the “special” food. I have met those who claim non-GMO will end world hunger, probably with that same “special” food. And I have met children in rural El Campo, Texas that refuse to eat meat because of the “inhumanity of the slaughtering process”. At ten years old I would not have understood any of these words, but that just proves to me how quickly the world is changing and just how important educating younger generations is. I was able to attend a conference at the Texas State Capitol with the Ambassador group twice, each time I attended I learned so much that I did not even know where to start when it came to asking questions. This event inspired me to explore a career in promoting and protecting the livestock industry as an attorney.
Last year, rumors began swirling about an international trip as part of the ambassador program. I was so nervous that I would not get selected to go, but everything always works out in the end. The trip included visits to Uruguay and Argentina and was absolutely incredible. Although I was freezing or waiting for ghosts to pop out at the hotels we stayed in, I was able to learn more about the process of producing grass-fed beef, how the industry has an entire job field dedicated to promoting and sharing livestock production, and that Buenos Aires is actually a fantastic place for orange juice. The culture was really interesting to observe. Eating beef and dulce de leche at every meal and learning about the government’s control of industries through monopolies were just a few of the many cultural aspects.
After my short course, I had to write an essay about someone who inspires me. I wrote about my dad. See, most kids sit around every single day waiting for something extraordinary to happen. For me, this happens every single day because my dad pushed me to try just one new thing. This program is truly extraordinary. Because of my participation in the Livestock Ambassador program, I now know where I am going in life. I know what I am passionate about. I know who I am because of this program. The agricultural industry is so complex, there is so much to learn, and at fourteen I had just scratched the surface. Now at almost 18 this program has given me the tools I need to continue digging deeper and deeper. Next year I will attend Texas A&M University, with a major in Animal Science. I currently plan on attending law school after earning my degree with an emphasis on agriculture.
Four years ago something extraordinary happened in a pavilion in College Station, Texas, and I intend to follow this passion wherever it leads me. Because of the Livestock Ambassador program, I know that I have a voice and the world will hear me loud and clear.