The pandemic has been hard on everybody, but it could be argued that it has impacted our kids the most. For the past two years, they have been asked to wear masks, cancel fun events, stay home and isolate, and learn via Zoom calls.
As a mother and an educator myself, it has been difficult for me to not be able to visit classrooms these past couple of years. With COVID-19 restrictions, I could no longer read my children’s books at schools, and it required me to get a little more creative in how we could teach kids about where their food comes from.
With my own kids at home on the ranch, we started making videos and posting them on social media. The topics ranged from cooking with beef tutorials to tours of our cattle ranch. It was a fun way to engage my kids and teach them important communication skills while also reaching other families who were looking for entertainment, information, and ideas while staying home, as well.
While we “made it work,” this past week reminded me exactly what I was missing when I wasn’t in the classroom. For National FFA Week, I was invited to speak about opportunities in agriculture at two high schools, and I read my farm-themed children’s stories to four different elementary schools in Nebraska.
It was awesome to see the kids light up and connect the dots when I shared stories about calving season and how ranchers care for their animals all year long. And it was incredible to answer so many questions from the FFA members and their peers about careers in agriculture and how there are hundreds of thousands of jobs in this field that are just waiting for passionate, talented workers to fill those roles.
As I drove home from my two-day trip from Nebraska, I felt recharged and inspired by the hundreds of young people I had the opportunity to spend some time with. I truly believe it is critical to reach these eager learners and show them what we do and how the essentials of life — food, fiber, and energy — are made possible by the hard-working Americans who have dedicated their lives to it.
What an honor it is to share their stories through children’s books, and I hope to do much more of it in the future! With less than 2% of us involved in production agriculture today, our voice is tiny, but our story is mighty! If kids just had a chance to learn more about the great people who live and work in rural America, I think they would fall in love with the agricultural industry and all of the wonderful opportunities that exist in this arena.
Aside from the classroom visits, my cup was truly filled to the brim that same week when I attended a benefit auction for my kids’ county 4-H group. The entire community came together to raise funds to build a much-needed new building for our local 4-H members.
It was so heart-warming to see the building jam-packed with supportive families who not only donated items, but they bid generously, too, in order to see this project come to fruition.
For future generations of 4-H members, this building will mean more opportunities to learn, grow, and explore careers in agriculture. It will provide ways for families to gather, and for young people to gain the important skills needed to succeed.
And nationwide, 4-H youth received an incredible vote of confidence from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who pledged to donate a whopping $50 million to the National 4-H Council! This is great news for the 6 million children across the country who participate in this awesome youth development program.
An investment in our kids is an investment in our future, and right now, when I see so many people rallying together to offer the best opportunities and experiences for our youth, I truly believe the future looks very bright indeed!