There’s something moving about knowing you’re part of something that stretches beyond just the “here and now.” It’s that understanding of tradition that makes me proud to be a part of so many things. This weekend, I have a lot of things to consider in regards to tradition. Last night, I spent the evening celebrating my college’s 150th birthday at a gala. I wore a dress and heels and carried a clutch. (This is a huge deal.) Yesterday, I also made a point to share my appreciation of veterans, especially my older brother Andy. Each and every day, I spend at least some time working to create engagement for the trade I love, agriculture. All three of these things bring a combination of tradition and forethought to mind.
Looking to the past is fantastic. Being a part of something that spans beyond a generation or even a lifetime is moving. When we do so, though, we need to look at the potential for the future as well.
I’m incredibly proud of my school for its meticulous balance of these ideas. In a speech yesterday, our college’s president Dr. Hal Wilde gave a speech at the homecoming convocation. He said, “Today, we celebrate a promising start. Tomorrow, we get to work on keeping that promise for generations to come.” It’s a fantastic statement to what the campus community strives for.
North Central College has a fantastic culture of innovation. It is that tradition of forward thinking that helps make it such a successful, wholesome, and revolutionary establishment. While I’ve had my issues with the school, I don’t think I would have chosen anywhere else to fulfill my undergraduate career.
Yesterday was Veterans Day, as well as North Central College’s sesquicentennial. I spent a decent amount of time publicizing my appreciation for veterans, including a sentimental voicemail to my older brother. Andy served in the Navy for 8 years, and did a long deployment in Iraq with the SEABEEs. There, he dealt with combat situations but also spent a great deal of time building facilities to improve the lives of armed forces personnel and Iraqi victims of war. He helped construct bathrooms, kitchens, and barracks where they hadn’t existed before. He helped rebuild cities that were ravaged by terrorist attacks.
I’m proud of my brother. I’m proud of what the Navy did for him. I think back to all of the men and women who came before him in the SEABEEs, in the Navy, in the military as a whole, and I’m overwhelmed to think of how many people consciously made that decision to leave their comfort zone to partake in a service to their country. I’m moved by the amount of people who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way, and so many that made the ultimate sacrifice. “Thank you” does not suffice to show my gratitude to the countless many.
Even as policy continues to change, the military continues to downsize, and worldwide situations shift, I’m proud of my brother and where he’s gone in life. While he is no longer in the Navy, he’s still one of my heroes. The Navy played a massive part in building Andy into who he is today. He has a beautiful family that supported him through deployment, relocations, and the transition to civilian life. He and his wife, Holly, are raising two pretty fantastic, unique, charismatic kids. If that isn’t a promise for the future, I don’t know what is.
I’ve written here about the school I love and the veteran brother I love, and now I’ll write about the industry I love: agriculture. It’s the oldest trade, and has been a part of the human experience since the founding of civilization. From the domestication of the first livestock to the cultivation of the first crops, we have been relying on farmers since times before time. If you want to think about rich tradition, think about ag.
(If I had a picture of a caveman tending to some crops or some ancient ice people caring for their reindeer, I’d post it here. But I don’t have pictures of that…because, you know, they didn’t have cameras back then. Although, if they did, the photos would be creative commons by now and I could use it legally without copyright infringement!)
It’s not just the longevity of the trade that speaks to tradition. Agriculture, much like North Central College, has always had a culture of innovation. Since the first seeds were intentionally sown, farmers have been looking at their models and thinking of ways to improve productivity, land use, efficiency, and quality of product. Agriculture has given us so much, and while there have been bumps in the road, no one can deny that the desire to improve the human condition and the quality of work done.
While technology and methods may change over time, there are a few aspects to agriculture that have stuck around over many generations. Work ethic. Dedication. Passion. Family. A connection to the earth. A love of the outdoors. These are the things I think of first when I think of tradition in agriculture.
I’m lucky. I have the chance to be involved in so many great traditions. I also get to be surrounded by groups and individuals with a keen awareness of the future. For a young person, a developing professional, and a big thinking idealist, this is a wonderful environment to be a part of.
Your turn! What traditions are you a part of? What traditions speak to you most? How do these traditions stretch into the future and promote forward thinking? Share your tradition stories!