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Coming Home

Amanda Nolz

This is the final segment of my four-part series on my journey back to Mitchell, SD where my family raises purebred Limousin seedstock. Like many farm kids coming to the crossroads at graduation, there are many decisions to make. Should I try to stay connected to my roots in production agriculture? Should I pursue a big city career? What’s right? Where will I be happy? These questions don’t always have clear-cut answers, and unfortunately, my generation doesn’t always have the option to stay at home and farm. In fact, statistics indicate that two-thirds of family-owned agricultural businesses never make it past the second generation. So, who are the next generation of food producers?

I sat in the interview room as the public relations firm offered me a job. Part of me was ecstatic. This was the plush, big city job that kids dream of. I could live in a fun city, work with a dynamic group of people my age and save up money to buy cows. Wait, cows aren’t part of the benefits package? How far away from home will I be? Where is the nearest ranch? Maybe this isn’t the dream job for me, after all.

Over the past couple of years, I had been working as a freelance writer, and in the back of my mind, I imagined myself continuing that work to help me finance my real passion in beef production. Yet, the suffering economy and increasing unemployment rates made me stop short. Was I crazy to think of turning down a real job in this economy? What would my parents think? How would I make ends meet? Where would I be happiest?

Like most seniors, it seemed my entire last year at college was full of overwhelming doubts, fears, uncertainty and unanswered questions. Most days I felt lost and confused as I juggled my options and weighed out the pros and cons of each position. I suppose I should have felt lucky having several options in times like these. Yet, when I envisioned myself in a big city, I felt claustrophobic thinking about endless traffic, construction and expensive apartment living. I remembered all of my internships in big cities like Washington D.C., Denver and Minneapolis, and despite living in a metropolis, I always felt alone. In cities, there are no pastures and fields; there are only skyscrapers and pavement. I knew taking a practical job would be the smart thing to do, but I knew I also knew my heart wouldn’t be happy.

This is the final segment of my four-part series on my journey back to Mitchell, SD where my family raises purebred Limousin seedstock. Like many farm kids coming to the crossroads at graduation, there are many decisions to make. Should I try to stay connected to my roots in production agriculture? Should I pursue a big city career? What’s right? Where will I be happy? These questions don’t always have clear-cut answers, and unfortunately, my generation doesn’t always have the option to stay at home and farm. In fact, statistics indicate that two-thirds of family-owned agricultural businesses never make it past the second generation. So, who are the next generation of food producers?

I sat in the interview room as the public relations firm offered me a job. Part of me was ecstatic. This was the plush, big city job that kids dream of. I could live in a fun city, work with a dynamic group of people my age and save up money to buy cows. Wait, cows aren’t part of the benefits package? How far away from home will I be? Where is the nearest ranch? Maybe this isn’t the dream job for me, after all.

Over the past couple of years, I had been working as a freelance writer, and in the back of my mind, I imagined myself continuing that work to help me finance my real passion in beef production. Yet, the suffering economy and increasing unemployment rates made me stop short. Was I crazy to think of turning down a real job in this economy? What would my parents think? How would I make ends meet? Where would I be happiest?

Like most seniors, it seemed my entire last year at college was full of overwhelming doubts, fears, uncertainty and unanswered questions. Most days I felt lost and confused as I juggled my options and weighed out the pros and cons of each position. I suppose I should have felt lucky having several options in times like these. Yet, when I envisioned myself in a big city, I felt claustrophobic thinking about endless traffic, construction and expensive apartment living. I remembered all of my internships in big cities like Washington D.C., Denver and Minneapolis, and despite living in a metropolis, I always felt alone. In cities, there are no pastures and fields; there are only skyscrapers and pavement. I knew taking a practical job would be the smart thing to do, but I knew I also knew my heart wouldn’t be happy.


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