As 2018 winds down, I am reflecting back on the people that I’ve met. I am often told that I have a wonderful life (and I never disagree) with an awesome family and the opportunity to travel to 30 states and a couple foreign countries every year. While the travels are great, without question it is the people that I meet—old friends and new friends, that make it wonderful. Without question, it is about the people. One sector of the people in my travels certainly shine in my reflection—the youth.
Last week alone I had numerous encounters that serve as great examples to illustrate my point. First, I was part of the Barton County Extension Farm Family Appreciation Luncheon in Lamar, Missouri. As Extension Agent Jill Scheidt introduced me to a crowd of about 200 people, nearly half of them were wearing blue jackets embroidered with the gold FFA symbol. That sight, whether 2 or 200, is always inspirational to me.
I started by asking if anybody would like to recite the FFA Creed. After a brief moment when they thought I was kidding, a young lady stood up and walked toward the stage. I handed the microphone to Jesse Dingman and she belted out the creed in tremendous fashion. I then shared with the audience my belief that the FFA Creed is not just something FFA members should learn but rather all humans should live by. If you aren’t familiar with it, I urge you to find a freshman in FFA and let them share it with you.
From Missouri, I headed to Lebanon, Indiana, for the annual Team Purebred bred gilt sale. Team Purebred is a junior swine association with more than 4,000 members that is led by a junior board. We have 10 real rock stars from farm families all across the country that just impress me more every single day. As one of the adult advisory members, I witness each year’s team come in and find their own way. Once they acquire that self-confidence, there is absolutely nothing they can’t accomplish on their own.
While at the bred gilt sale, I met Noah Rogers, a young man from central Illinois, who brought one Duroc gilt to the sale. When I met Noah I told him his gilt looked really nice. He quickly pointed out that he had started this pig project and it was not his parents. His mother Malena then added, “Noah, tell Trent the story of how you got started.”
Noah had an assignment to read 500 books during his first grade school year. During that period, he fell in love with livestock and particularly cows. Noah’s father John told him he could not get a steer right away but that he had to work his way up to it. John started with some laying hens and sold eggs until he could afford a goat. He built the goat herd until two years ago when he added a Duroc sow. This year he raised four gilts from his sow, bred them and sold one at the Lebanon sale and has three left at home. It is young people like this, with confidence to make a difference, that give me tremendous hope for the future.
As I think back on the past year, I have had many such encounters with young people from coast to coast. I realize that across this country adults may be saying “What is wrong with kids today?” I, on the other hand, could not feel more optimistic about where we are headed.
I mentioned earlier how important the FFA Creed is and that leads me to share that I believe in the future of the United States because of the kids I get to meet on my journeys across this country. How many times have I referenced “confidence” as a key component? So while I believe the message of the FFA Creed, what is really important are the words “I believe” which just happen to appear five times in the Creed. The power in standing up for our deeply held beliefs is what will ensure the future success of our country.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at [email protected].