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I don’t know, but I sure would like to

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

I tell this story all the time, but here I go again. This is the story of the best advice I ever got.

It was the summer of 2017, I had my car loaded down and was about to hit the road to Saint Joseph, Mo., to begin my summer as the editorial intern for the Angus Journal. I’d spent my last week in Texas making the rounds to see friends and family and on a Sunday after church, many members of my family went to Gramma and Grandpa’s house for a small lunch and to send me off.

After saying my goodbyes, I gave Grandpa a hug and he gave me a bit of advice I still live by to this day.

As his arm was around me, he told me I was about to meet a lot of new people and learn a lot of new things. He said I’d be asked many questions and maybe not as an intern, but at some point in my life, would be asked for my opinion on certain things I didn’t know enough about to form an opinion on. He told me not to “BS” my way through a conversation, and no one would make fun of me for not being an expert.

“Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something,” Grandpa said. “It’s okay to say I don’t know, as long as you follow it up with, but I sure would like to.”

For the past three years, I’ve dedicated a little bit of time every single week to craft my column, Activists vs. Agriculture. I’ve lectured through written word about effective communication practices, shaken my fist at animal rights activists and encouraged anyone who would listen to appreciate agriculture.

I’ve done just about everything to try and get my message out there. I’ve pored over ag communication research, spoken at conventions, tried podcasting, which was time consuming, I’ve made t-shirts and I even went vegan for the longest six weeks of my life. My entire life’s mission has been to effectively communicate ag to the public, and genuinely, I have given it my all.

However, recently I’ve done some reflection and learned, while I could give an impromptu 10 hour lecture over communicating ag, I really don’t know if I could give an impromptu 30 minute lecture over ag itself. 

And why not? I grew up around it, I studied it and I’m living it. Why do I feel so much more confident in my ability to talk about talking about ag, but not about ag by itself?

I’ll tell you why, and please don’t judge me, I don’t know jack about squat.

Sure, I think I know a little more than the average person about agriculture. Sure, I work cows with my family when I can. Sure, I understand the basic concepts of beef production. 

But I feel like I should know more about all of it; and I should really know more about the cattle industry as I’m married to a rancher. So, I’m working on fixing this.

In the middle of the summer, I quit my full-time job to focus more on my family’s operation and my growing business. Around this time, I purchased a pink leatherbound calendar – a little bigger than the little red calving books – which fits nicely in my back pocket. 

I take it with me every time we do anything ranch related, and use it to take notes, draw out little maps and give myself a how-to-guide for next year when we are working on this or that.

My little pink book is a great resource for me now and will be in the coming years as I learn more about an operation in an environment I wasn’t raised around. It’s a start, but it’s not enough in the grand scheme of things.

I want to know about everything in ag, from heirloom tomatoes and honeybees to soybeans and sheep. I want to know it all, and I want to take readers on this ride with me.

My column will still stay similar to what it has been – I’ll still try to fire everyone up about the latest and not-so-greatest to come from the anti-ag world, but I also plan to profile some different areas of agriculture and provide my input on things going on in the ag world, outside of animal rights warriors.

This small content shift is me taking my grandpa’s advice. I’m admitting I don’t know enough about certain areas of agriculture to have an opinion; I don’t know, but I want to.

My goal is to expand my knowledge of agriculture in hopes to further my knowledge about where all of our food, fiber and fuel come from; and hopefully, it will help me to better fight the good fight for good food and people.

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