Today, we officially kicked off the 2011 New Century Farmer Conference. Forty-nine of the top college students with aspirations in production agriculture arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, traveling from 24 different states. The morning began at the Pioneer Hi-Bred headquarters with greetings from Brian Buckallew, Key Account Manager for Pioneer. After introductions of each participant we played some ice breaker games and then settled in to listen to our first speaker. Dr. Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University shared his unique perspective on the current and future economics of agriculture. He challenged each of us to “Do what we love”. He went on to explain that when we love what we do, we can do so much more because it doesn’t seem like work.
After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed out to the Adventure Learning Center. While there, we faced a series of obstacles in a low ropes course that challenged our teamwork and communication abilities. Through this, we worked as small groups and then developed and discussed our vision statements for our farming and ranching operations. Our next stop was Smokey D’s for a great time socializing and eating great barbeque.
In the evening, we came together as a large group to hear from Charlie Wittmack, an adventure enthusiast who has even conquered the summit of Mount Everest. He spoke of the seven steps that he used to achieve his goal of summiting Everest and how we can use those same concepts to conquer any goal that we set. He emphasized that, “Anything is possible, if you can focus.” We then met in our small groups to share our “Ag in a Bag”. Each participant brought several small items and shared how those items represent our operations back home. It is really amazing to be with such a diverse group of people. We come from corn and soybeans farms, rodeo livestock producers, and everything in between. This was a great way to end the evening and we can’t wait to see what the conference has in store for us for the rest of the week.
Katharine Rosser, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
Mike Hannewald, The Ohio State University