Growing our Generation: From blue and gold to scarlet and gray

Audrey Hoey of Ross County is the guest editor of the April 24, 2017 edition of the Growing our Generation e-newsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

From Blue & Gold to Scarlet & Gray

Hey there! My name is Audrey Hoey and I am a soon-to-graduate senior at the Ohio State University Columbus campus. I am majoring in Community Leadership: Community & Extension Education and minoring in International Social and Economic Development. Throughout my time at Ohio State, I have had the opportunity to be involved on campus, engaged in many diverse internships, and studied abroad!

As a native of Ross County, I grew up surrounded by all forms of agriculture. From 4-H, FFA, and Junior Fair Board activities to traveling around the world learning about agriculture, I have always strived to reach out of my comfort zone and gain new experiences. Being a first generation college student, I was very nervous leaving my small-town environment to attend Ohio State. These past four years have given me the opportunity to grow and develop skills that will transfer into my career in agriculture.

I began my involvement with Ohio Farm Bureau as an intern this past semester in the state office, which is located in Columbus. As an intern in the Organization Department, much of my work included programming and planning for Young Ag Professionals, AgriPOWER Institute and County Presidents’ Trip. Working with these programs has been a great way to put my knowledge learned through courses at Ohio State into action!

As a graduating senior, one of the greatest challenges can be finding “that first full-time job” that truly fits your passion, skill-set, and goals for the future. I have been lucky enough to find one that fits all three! Upon graduation, I will begin working as an organization director in Ross, Pickaway, Fairfield, and Hocking counties with Ohio Farm Bureau. I can’t wait to begin working with Farm Bureau volunteers from this area and around the state!

Please connect with me on social media! Follow me on Twitter or Instagram with @audreyhoey, or find me on Facebook!

Gaining a global perspective

One of the great opportunities available to college students is the access to international travel! Throughout the past four years, I have had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with the National FFA Organization as well as Honduras through study abroad with Ohio State. Through these experiences I have gained insight into global agriculture and many diverse cultures.

hoey-costa-ricaThe summer of 2015, I received a scholarship to travel with the National FFA Organization Proficiency and Stars travel program to Costa Rica after being named a National Proficiency Winner in 2014. FFA members from around the United States traveled around the Republic of Costa Rica for 10 days to learn about agriculture in Central America. We toured many diverse farms, such as pineapple, banana, and organic beef as well as visiting beautiful waterfalls and hot springs. As a college student, this opportunity to learn about global agriculture has opened my eyes to the importance of being aware of other cultures and their agricultural practices in order to fully understand agriculture in the United States.

I traveled to Choluteca, Honduras this past May with the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership on a community development focused study abroad. While in Honduras, we traveled to many diverse schools, working to improve their facilities while also providing meals for the children. For many of the children, this meal was the first they had seen in days. Many would hide their first plate in an attempt to get a second; not out of greed, but as an opportunity to take it home and share with their families.

Traveling to Costa Rica and Honduras taught me the value of taking time to see the world from another perspective once in awhile. I have learned the importance of trying to understand our cultural differences; not just with those around the world, but even with those in our own backyard. As agriculturalists, we must take time to learn about other methods and perspective in our industry in order to stay relevant. I challenge each of you to take time and learn about someone or something different that intrigues you!

What do Mickey Mouse and grain merchandisers have in common?

Throughout my life thus far, I have been fortunate to have many diverse work experiences in central Ohio and around the country. I suppose much of this has stemmed from the values I gained in my first high school job. The day I turned 15½ hirsch-fruit-farm-apple-tree(the legal employment age in Ohio) I began my“first job” at Hirsch’s Fruit Farm in Chillicothe as a part of my Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) for FFA. I began by picking berries and apples, eventually working my way into a store clerk position. From bottling apple cider between helping customers in the store to packing and preparing for the Ross County Farmers’ Market on Friday nights, my time at Hirsch’s Fruit Farm helped to develop my work ethic as well as my passion for working with farmers in the agricultural industry. I know many of you have had similar beginnings, whether it be on the farm or in a specific “first job” like mine, that has helped shape you into the leader you are today!

In college, I have engaged in a few interesting internships. My first college internship was with Walt Disney World in Orlando, where I completed the Disney College Program. This program gives college students an opportunity to learn the value of customer service and it’s impact on guest satisfaction. While in Disney, I was able to take a course through Disney University that focused on the environmental goals of the Walt Disney Company and their efforts to keep their parks green.

On the other hand, I spent the summer of 2016 living in the small metropolis of Farmer City, Ill. as an intern with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Grain Company. In this office consisting of three other employees, I worked as a commodity merchandiser. In this role, I worked with farmers to set grain contracts as well as develop good customer relationships.

At this point, many of you are probably thinking, “how in the world does an internship at Walt Disney World relate to a career in agriculture?!” As diverse as my Disney and ADM internships were, I was able to learn many key concepts that were actually very relatable to my future career in agriculture. This taught me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new, even if it doesn’t seem like something that relates to your current educational or career path, because you never know what values you may learn that can change your perspective.

annnnd, Go Bucks!

Working as an intern with Ohio Farm Bureau has given me a new perspective on the future of Ohio agriculture and how it is evolving. As we know, agriculture is much more than the traditional “sows and plows.” Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, including many jobs related to natural resources, biotechnology, and food production. Diversification within this industry must result a supporting organization that is quick to adapt and support its members, and Ohio Farm Bureau does just that.

audrey-hoey-amanda-domsitzAs I begin my career with Ohio Farm Bureau, I cannot help but be extremely enthusiastic and overwhelmed with joy for the future of this organization. From working on the farm at Hirsch’s during high school to working full-time as an Organization Director, my experiences have came full circle.

As I end my time at Ohio State, I realize how thankful I am to have a passion for an industry filled with such great people. Ohio Farm Bureau works to unify agriculturalists and create a voice to speak out for the future of food, fuel, and fiber. Although my time as a college student is ending, my career in agriculture is just beginning. I am looking forward to a bright future with Ohio Farm Bureau, and as always, Go Bucks!

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