Monday, August 6, 2012

Lauren Chase

Meet Lauren Chase - she wasn't raised in an agricultural setting, but through an internship she found her way and is now a great advocate for agriculture!

I live in Helena, Montana – Big Sky Country, but I wasn’t raised as a Montana girl. I am originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and before any one starts asking me questions about the corn crop, I must point out that I didn’t grow up on a farm or have any involvement in agriculture. In fact, I couldn’t have told you the first thing about it. Looking back, I wish that wasn’t the case.

I went to school at the University of Iowa and received degrees in both Journalism and Anthropology with a minor in Spanish. All three of those are broad scopes and therefore, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. One summer, the Montana Stockgrowers Association had an internship opportunity for multimedia communications work. I thought that would be an interesting way to combine my majors so I headed out west, full of excitement about what would be on those ranches.

The first time I was on a ranch, I was invited to watch a branding. And boy, when you see that for the first time, it’s a stimulation overload!

During that summer, I learned the differences between a bull and a steer, where to stand while cattle are being worked, and why some cattle are black and some are red. But more importantly, I learned just how important agriculture is for everything we do and how wonderful the people are who raise the beef we eat.

After my internship, I returned to the university to finish my degrees, but knew that advocating for farmers and ranchers was something that I wanted to do and is extremely necessary.

MSGA created a full-time position for me upon graduation, with help from very generous sponsors, where I would use photographs, videos, blogs, social media, and print to give a voice to the ranchers and teach the consumers about where their beef comes from and who produces it.

Most of the time ranchers work all day long and are outside with their cattle. They have a hard time sitting down at night to write blog posts or upload images of the newborn calf, so it’s my job to help them tell their story and get rid of misinformation about agriculture. I love every second of this because I am constantly learning, my “family” grows larger every day, and I truly believe that my story-telling skill set helps those who need it.

What’s even better is that while I primarily photograph and interview Montana’s ranchers, I have been fortunate enough to travel around the country and meet America’s beef producers. And the same message holds true: Farmers and ranchers are the nicest people and work tirelessly to provide you and me with food for our tables.

Have questions about the food you eat? Just ask your local farmer or rancher. They really do want to teach you and will explain things in a way you’ll understand. Trust me. I’ve been there and they have done nothing but help me learn. You can always check out Twitter feeds like #agchat, #foodD, and #ranchlife for information straight from the farmers and ranchers and visit Montana beef producers on our Facebook page: Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Agriculture is the foundation of everything we do on this planet. It’s time more people figured that out.

Thanks Lauren for a great feature! If you would like to learn more about the producers Lauren is working with visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, and check out her other work with Young Producers Council!

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