This coming week, I will attend my last lecture of my University career and end my past 17 years of school. The upcoming months certainly will be a major transition and although it will be very hard to leave my life I have created here at the University of Guelph, I am quite excited for the challenges that lay ahead.
It feels like a very long time has passed since I let go of my Mom and Dads hands at the end of our driveway and stepped onto that big yellow bus for my very first time. And now, here I am today, finishing up my 4th year in Child Youth and Family Development at University. I certainly have grown a whole lot from 17 years ago, but looking back on all my education I am confident in saying some of the greatest lessons I have learned have come from growing up on a farm.
Being raised as the youngest of four children I have learned from my siblings and parents the real meaning of hard work, commitment and dedication. I know what it feels like to get up early in the morning to get chores done, or to work well into the night to plant crops before the rain comes. I have seen the teamwork that comes during harvest time, the sweat and fatigue that comes with picking rocks all day in the hot sun, and the stubbornness or “dedication” some may call it of my father picking that last row of sweet corn by the headlights of our pickup truck the night before market, ensuring he picks just the right cob.
Growing up on a farm has taught me to care for our environment in every way possible. Farmers are stewards of our earth, and I have seen that first hand, watching my family members care for their crops and our land so diligently. I have learned to extend this care to animals as well. From raising 4-H beef projects, to bottle feeding a baby lamb whose mother passed away during birth, I know the importance of nurturing these animals.
I have learned to live a balanced lifestyle including a healthy diet and a plentiful amount of exercise. I know to be sure to get my fair share of fruits and veggies, and walk the fields regularly to check that the irrigation system is set up right, or if the beans are ready for harvest.
Growing up on a family farm I have learned to be kind to one another, especially your neighbors. I have learned that a strong, caring community is one of the most invaluable assets one can be blessed with. When its 4am and a neighbors barn roof is about to collapse because of the mass amounts of snow on it, it is important to reach out and lend a hand with a shovel in it. I’ve learned that if you are kind to others, they will turn around and be kind back.
I have learned that life isn’t an easy and smooth road. Obstacles will come up that you will have no control over, and that you will need to overcome. Be it bad weather for crops or the border being closed to Canadian beef exports, farming and life in general has its fair share of hardships. However it is vital to be resilient and recognize that these challenges present us with an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop for the better.
From a young age I have learned that the family farm truly dues nurture close family ties and that my family is the most precious gift in my life. I know that I can’t put a price on the quality, bonding time I get to spend selling produce at the local farmers market with my Dad, caring for the flower beds with my Mom, or working on 4-H animals with my siblings.
Overall, one of the greatest lessons I have learned from growing up on a farm is to enjoy the simple things in life. To take time to appreciate the miracle of the birth of that new baby calf. To smile at the sight of the first blossom popping through on the strawberry plant. To run and jump in the mud puddles in bare feet with my siblings, or to just be grateful to look up at the stars on a clear, dark night.
Although my plan right now is to go on to teachers college to expand my passion for children, I will never forget the lessons that I have learned because of my ties to agriculture. I know I will make ag-education front and centre in my classroom one day. And I only hope I can instill the values I have gained from growing up on a family farm in my students, and spread the passion of an industry that I have been so blessed to be connected with.
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