You could say that I have always had big goals and a tendency to be a leader. 4-H had already begun strengthening those skills. When I had friends tell me about the Texas Livestock Ambassador program, it sounded like something I would love to do! I was hopeful filling out my application; I had been told that I may not make it on my first try. When I got the email saying I was accepted to the short course there was more celebration in my house than the Astros winning the World Series. I was ready to see what this program was all about and was so excited to join this group I had been interested in for so long but let me tell you, I was NOT prepared for the education, inspiration, and passion that would come out of this program.
I got accepted to the Ambassador Short Course at Texas Tech with West Texas A&M. I arrived at the hotel notebook in hand ready for what the next five days had in store. The first morning in the hotel lobby, I was excited and nervous. I met Dr. Zanolini and Lauren Verfurth. I had no idea that these two people were going to be some of the most determined and inspiring leaders in my life. Through the week we learned about all different aspects in the agriculture industry. The most exciting days for me were those that dealt with the cattle industry. Visiting a panhandle feedlot and one of the packing houses hit close to home. This is my family’s livelihood and learning how to advocate for this part of agriculture was so exciting. That week is one of the most impactful and educational experiences I’ve had ever had. Little did I know it was just the beginning of a really great adventure!
My first year as a Texas Livestock Ambassador was definitely a full one. I attended events such as Ag fairs, Water fairs, and 4-H information nights to promote the world of ag. I attended Commodity Carnival days at SALE and traveled to Houston to speak to consumers there about the meat they were buying for their family’s dinner. I spoke to over 5,000 people as a Texas Livestock Ambassador at these events.
I have always had a passion for the agriculture industry. Growing up in a small town listening to my mom & dadtalk about the cattle prices or what crops were going to be good that year is common in my house. I have been raised to follow my passion, and my passion is Ag and politics. I was chosen to go to the Ambassador Day at the Capital in March where both of my passions met in a big way. For two days we met with State Representatives, Lobbyists and members of special interest organizations to discuss the agriculture, political, and legal issues within the State of Texas. This opportunity was incredible. I was inspired to do work even harder than I had been to educate the public about our need for our local farmer and rancher. As the school year came to a close my big plans were growing. Applications for both Advocacy Academy and the California Agriculture Experience came out. After I had an amazing year as an ambassador, I was so excited to have a chance at these opportunities. I couldn’t believe it, but I had the honor of being accepted to both trips.
Both trips were impeccable and everything I had hoped for. Advocacy Academy was based on the importance of our self brand and advocating for the industry we were all so passionate about. We met with lobbyists and Representatives from around the state along with visiting the Austin Farm Bureau offices, local attorneys, and a Rodeo Austin representative. Dr. Zanolini also talked to us about how it’s our job to advocate for our agriculture industry and how we have a responsibility to make those who have worked before us proud. One thing that I’ve learned from being an ambassador is that I am the future of agriculture. It is our job as the future farmers, ranchers, and producers, and maybe even Governors to educate consumers about our industry.
About a month after our days in Austin, it was time for California! 10 INCREDIBLE days with 19 other ambassadors and our chaperones. We traveled across the state, meeting with cattle producers, almond growers, winery owners, state agriculture department heads, and even one of the heads of the Humane Society. We learned about their role in the country’s agriculture industry and how it’s similar but at the same time very different than ours. We became acquainted with their water life, their crops, and their sometimes VERY differing views. We saw how hard these farmers and ranchers work in the face of what can be an unfriendly set of laws and regulations. Their determination to continue in their passion made me want to learn even more about how to become a better advocate. I can’t imagine a trip that could have taught me more or given me more desire to reach more of our country’s moveable middle!
It’s been a little over a year since I got that email that said “Congratulations, you have been accepted into the Texas Livestock Ambassador program”. When I first filled out that application, I had no idea that I would learn so much or be given so many opportunities. The wonderful people I’ve met as an ambassador, including Dottie, Lauren, and Dr. Zanolini, and the friendships I have made, have pushed me to be the best I can be and encourage me to keep striving. Everyone has helped me strengthen my ability to use my voice as an advocate for this industry. I will continue to speak up for what I believe is right. From Texas Tech to Cal Poly to advocating for the industry that is my passion there has not been a single day where I have regretted becoming an ambassador. This program has given me opportunities that no other program could. I would like to leave you with my favorite pieces of advice from this past year-
People will protect what they love, and they only love what they know!
I am so excited to see how many more people I can share this industry I love so much with. It is our job to protect it and I am so thankful to be one of those who gets to do that!