It has been a busy one. It has been a good one! FALL - the most wonderful time of the year...
I had an amazing opportunity in early October to tell my little story to a group of be-you-tilful rural women from southwest North Dakota, northwest South Dakota, northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana at the Rural Women in America conference held in Bowman on October 5th. A good friend and RLND class mate extended the invitation and I graciously accepted knowing full well that neither I nor my story are exceptional in any way, but rather that I am willing... to stand in front a room full of people and share the story of a rural woman engaged in agriculture living in western North Dakota (all of which I am very proud of)... and encourage others to do the same - to share their stories.
For far too long we have been crazy busy tending to our marriages, our children, our farms and ranches, our off-farm careers, our churches, our communities. We have failed to connect with urban and non-agricultural America. We have not communicated with these folks who have forgotten or no longer know their roots. That was not meant to be an offensive comment, but rather to point out the fact that today less than 2% of the U.S. population is active in agriculture (food and fiber production) and in many instances Americans are 4 generations removed from their agrarian roots. In 1960 that percentage was just a touch under 50%, so if you weren't a farmer your brother probably was. The story didn't need to be told back then because even those living in urban America periodically had an 'on farm' experience. Additionally back then, marketing and special interest groups weren't constantly pushing products, production models and agendas. The story of agriculture was being experienced first hand and not being hi-jacked, manipulated or misrepresented.
My advise to these rural women was simple... be hear able, be relatable, be trustworthy, be respectful, be balanced. Build a platform for conversation. Open doors and walk through them. Don't slam doors (even if you aren't sure what to think of what is on the other side). In doing so, connections will come your way and provide you with space and place to tell your story.
I have made many valuable connections over my 39 years, many I am proud to call 'sister' and 'brother' in agriculture - a couple of them this fall that have provided space and place, a platform to build conversation from:
The Union Farmer (page 9)
I would like to sincerely thank them for that opportunity.
So, (depending on your personality type) I encourage and / or challenge you to tell rural America's story. The story needs your voice!
|Rural Women In America Conference - October 5, 2013|