Around November or December, my teammates and I, as well as Mr. Martin, went out to eat at the small Southern Comfort Cafe right in the heart of the booming metropolis of Trafalgar. At this lunch was one of our team’s weekly meetings, by the way they are usually at the State Officer house, so going out to even this small cafe for lunch was pretty exciting. However, something that was even more exciting was that this was the meeting where one of us was going to be randomly drawn to go to Washington D.C. in March for National Ag Day. So, all five of us put our names on a piece of paper and then put that piece of paper in a hat to be drawn by Mr. Martin. Note, Jessica and Chaela did not put their names in the hat due to the fact they had both already been to D.C. for State Presidents conference in July. Then, Mr. Martin randomly drew a name and low and behold the amazing outcome. The name on the piece of paper was, “Nathan Blume.” I did find it quite fitting because I was the only one out of the bunch that had never been to D.C.
Why exactly was I going to D.C. you might be asking? Well, National Ag Day is a day that is recognized annually and a day that has a great amount of value on the agricultural industry. A task force of youth and collegiate organizations such as 4-H, AFA, and FFA work together to plan an event in Washington D.C. for several FFA members and college students. The Indiana FFA Association was allotted one representative to head out to D.C. for the event and I was the lucky one that got to fill the spot. Now, to take you through my journey and the importance it played on myself and those that make impacting decisions for the state of Indiana.
I had to wake up extremely early on a Monday morning to catch the flight and head out to D.C. Keep in mind, I had never ridden on an airplane before, so I was quite a bit nervous. I did eventually make it through security and on to the plane where I anxiously waited for takeoff. The flight lasted about an hour and a half, having my eyes open for only ten of those minutes. Once we landed, I got off the plane as quickly as I could and headed out into the airport, which was crazy. Then came the difficult part, finding transportation. I decided that Uber was the best way to go about getting around this crazy city. Uber is basically a taxi, except you call for the vehicle using your phone and the driver is just driving an everyday, normal car. After I got out of the Uber, which was quite interesting for no reason besides it being odd that someone I had never met was driving me around, I was in the National Mall. I had until early afternoon before I had to be at the National 4-H center to begin the learning sessions. I took as much time as I possibly could to walk around to all the monuments and see what the city was all about. Let me tell you, I reached my 10,000-step goal very quickly that day, as it is no jog in the park to see everything, but I saw just about every major memorial in close proximity, including the white house.
After my adventures of exploring the monuments and doing some sight-seeing, I had to get another Uber to take me directly to the National 4-H center, where the actual events of National Ag Day would commence. I got to the center, went to my room, and headed to the main conference meeting place where the meeting session was. There were FFA members, college students, and many others from all over that were here for one common purpose, advocating for agriculture. That truly is the purpose of National Ag Day, to advocate for the industry so many of us hold near and dear to our hearts. Once in the room with everyone and after getting to know those at my table, the advocating sessions began. Basically, the reason myself and others were going through these sessions was so we could get to know some Ag Issues and to craft a message that we were going to deliver to our legislators. Everyone in that room was going to be heading to Capitol Hill the next morning to speak to their senators and representatives about agriculture and to formally ask them for their support of the industry. Following the long night of training and practicing the message I wanted to facilitate, I knew that National Ag Day was going to be a success.
In the morning, the day of National Ag Day, I loaded up onto a bus and we set out for Capitol Hill. Once at Capitol Hill I teamed up with my fellow Hoosiers and we set out to the visits we had scheduled for the day. Throughout the day, myself as well as the others representing Indiana spoke to the legislative assistants of Representatives Rokita, Brooks, and Walorski. We even got to speak directly to Indiana’s two Senators, Senator Joe Donnelly and Senator Todd Young. It really was a unique opportunity to speak as a voice of agriculture and to facilitate a discussion regarding the importance agriculture holds and why they should support it. I had the opportunity to advocate for agriculture on National Ag Day and we all have that same opportunity every single day.
Agriculture is something that is so important to everyone, especially those of us that work within agriculture, support agriculture, and those that believe in its future. Every single day, the general public, including the law makers are getting out of touch with agriculture and the importance it plays within our country. So, I encourage everyone to understand the importance of advocating for agriculture and to do something about it. Whether it be organizing an Ag Day event for the public, speaking with state legislators, or just engaging in a conversation about agriculture with your hair stylist, we have to advocate for agriculture. To all those reading this, be an Agvocate.
Striving to Agvocate,