Outside the pasture gates | TSLN.com

Outside the pasture gates

Amanda Nolz

Last week, I launched this four-part series on my journey back to the farm. When a young adult meets the crossroads between big city careers and country life dreams, that’s where I found myself as I prepared to graduate from South Dakota State University this May. In the first segment, I relived my childhood memories on the farm, where I grew to love nature, cattle and working alongside my family. However, all of that changed under the peer pressures of high school, when I decided that agriculture held no place in my future. I left off the first installment noting that something was coming around the corner that would change my life forever…

Despite getting teased for living on a cattle ranch, I didn’t really hate agriculture. In a nutshell, it just didn’t quite fit in with my high school social calendar. Sure, I pretended to hate the farm, but that didn’t stop me from joining FFA and staying active in 4-H. I tried to live a double life. I avoided my sports friends when I was decked out in my blue corduroy FFA jacket, and only my farm friends were ever invited out to the show barn to help me work on my 4-H calves. Yet, as the days of my senior year began slipping away, I was starting to realize that my childhood was based on strong values invested deeply in agriculture roots. Even though it wasn’t the popular way to live, I knew that I understood more about the circle of life at 18 than my friends would in their entire lifetimes.

As a kid, I had always dreamed of trying out for the South Dakota Beef Ambassador Program, a youth organization that trains spokespersons to become advocates for the beef industry through travel opportunities to promotional events, fairs and workshops. I had recently decided that I was going to attend South Dakota State University in the fall, and I was willing to bet I would be able to find a few “aggie” friends that might think beef cattle were cool, too. So, I took the risk and tried out for the ambassador program. My speech and interview earned me the South Dakota title, and soon, I was off to nationals. I knew if I made it in the top five, I would spend a year traveling across the country on behalf of America’s beef producers. Suddenly, I realized that this wasn’t the popular thing to do at all. Instead, this was something that only a few people could ever experience, and it dawned on me that I wanted to be one of those people.

Last week, I launched this four-part series on my journey back to the farm. When a young adult meets the crossroads between big city careers and country life dreams, that’s where I found myself as I prepared to graduate from South Dakota State University this May. In the first segment, I relived my childhood memories on the farm, where I grew to love nature, cattle and working alongside my family. However, all of that changed under the peer pressures of high school, when I decided that agriculture held no place in my future. I left off the first installment noting that something was coming around the corner that would change my life forever…

Despite getting teased for living on a cattle ranch, I didn’t really hate agriculture. In a nutshell, it just didn’t quite fit in with my high school social calendar. Sure, I pretended to hate the farm, but that didn’t stop me from joining FFA and staying active in 4-H. I tried to live a double life. I avoided my sports friends when I was decked out in my blue corduroy FFA jacket, and only my farm friends were ever invited out to the show barn to help me work on my 4-H calves. Yet, as the days of my senior year began slipping away, I was starting to realize that my childhood was based on strong values invested deeply in agriculture roots. Even though it wasn’t the popular way to live, I knew that I understood more about the circle of life at 18 than my friends would in their entire lifetimes.

As a kid, I had always dreamed of trying out for the South Dakota Beef Ambassador Program, a youth organization that trains spokespersons to become advocates for the beef industry through travel opportunities to promotional events, fairs and workshops. I had recently decided that I was going to attend South Dakota State University in the fall, and I was willing to bet I would be able to find a few “aggie” friends that might think beef cattle were cool, too. So, I took the risk and tried out for the ambassador program. My speech and interview earned me the South Dakota title, and soon, I was off to nationals. I knew if I made it in the top five, I would spend a year traveling across the country on behalf of America’s beef producers. Suddenly, I realized that this wasn’t the popular thing to do at all. Instead, this was something that only a few people could ever experience, and it dawned on me that I wanted to be one of those people.

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Last week, I launched this four-part series on my journey back to the farm. When a young adult meets the crossroads between big city careers and country life dreams, that’s where I found myself as I prepared to graduate from South Dakota State University this May. In the first segment, I relived my childhood memories on the farm, where I grew to love nature, cattle and working alongside my family. However, all of that changed under the peer pressures of high school, when I decided that agriculture held no place in my future. I left off the first installment noting that something was coming around the corner that would change my life forever…

Despite getting teased for living on a cattle ranch, I didn’t really hate agriculture. In a nutshell, it just didn’t quite fit in with my high school social calendar. Sure, I pretended to hate the farm, but that didn’t stop me from joining FFA and staying active in 4-H. I tried to live a double life. I avoided my sports friends when I was decked out in my blue corduroy FFA jacket, and only my farm friends were ever invited out to the show barn to help me work on my 4-H calves. Yet, as the days of my senior year began slipping away, I was starting to realize that my childhood was based on strong values invested deeply in agriculture roots. Even though it wasn’t the popular way to live, I knew that I understood more about the circle of life at 18 than my friends would in their entire lifetimes.

As a kid, I had always dreamed of trying out for the South Dakota Beef Ambassador Program, a youth organization that trains spokespersons to become advocates for the beef industry through travel opportunities to promotional events, fairs and workshops. I had recently decided that I was going to attend South Dakota State University in the fall, and I was willing to bet I would be able to find a few “aggie” friends that might think beef cattle were cool, too. So, I took the risk and tried out for the ambassador program. My speech and interview earned me the South Dakota title, and soon, I was off to nationals. I knew if I made it in the top five, I would spend a year traveling across the country on behalf of America’s beef producers. Suddenly, I realized that this wasn’t the popular thing to do at all. Instead, this was something that only a few people could ever experience, and it dawned on me that I wanted to be one of those people.