On FFA Week, I took the next step in my ag story.

It’s National FFA Week. My friends involved in agriculture are well aware of it. It seems like my Facebook has been painted blue and gold, the emblem is all over Twitter and lots of friends’ avatars are throwbacks sporting that … Continue reading

Celebrating American Agriculture for the 4th of July

I’ve been a little swamped lately prepping for my big move to Kansas City, which happens THIS FRIDAY. (If you’re confused about the dates, I was supposed to start at my job on June 25th, but we bumped it back to July 9th because my apartment would not be available until the 7th.) I’ve been packing, taking inventory, and tying up loose ends here.

I have a million and one thoughts I’d love to blog about regarding the move, work, agriculture, and a slew of other things, but instead, I’ll take a few moments to address tomorrow, the 4th of July. Continue reading

Why Volunteer?

Earlier in the spring, I did my last Relay for Life event as a North Central College student. The Relay for Life is an event that groups can host to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have seen more loss and heartache because of cancer than I like to admit, and following my own cancer scare I dove into awareness with a new fervor. At my fourth and final Relay for Life event at NCC, I raised over $1,200 for the American Cancer Society.

Taking a break in the wee hours of the morning, curled up in a blanket in the middle of a football field.

When one of my best friends, Joe, asked if I’d be interested in volunteering for another Relay for Life event this year, I agreed. Rather than raise money, though, we were donating our time and professional services as DJ’s through his blossoming company Rack Off and Rage. Continue reading

The Economics of Rabbits

It’s no secret that I used to raise rabbits for 4-H and FFA. I spent five years thinking, dreaming, and breathing rabbits. I was addicted. During those five years, I actively raised three breeds while dabbling in others here and there. I am a complete rabbit nerd. Despite having been away from the rabbit trade for about three years (I developed an allergy and sold out) I still consider rabbits an obsession of mine.

Senior Showmanship for 4-H. My last ever 4-H rabbit show with Circle Y Godiva, a chocolate Havana senior doe. She was also Best in Show.

(Only I would have an obsession with an animal I can’t touch or be around for more than a few minutes without having an asthma attack.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about rabbits. I’ve been thinking about their lack of popularity as a mainstream food source. Primarily, I’ve been thinking about the vast potential that rabbits could have in third-world regions. When I say “economics” of rabbits, I mean as a resource. I am not going to discuss money here, as currency fluctuates frequently and by place. However, rabbits, as a breeding population and commodity, have an economic value of their own. That, and I’m horrible with actual numbers.

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Life Lessons Learned as a Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs Fan

Much like the admirable groups of 4-H and FFA, playing sports can teach important life-long lessons to young people. I know countless people who developed virtuous qualities on the playing field, such as self-discipline, perseverance, and overcoming difficult. The experiences learned on a court can incredibly important to a young person’s development. Similarly, important lessons can be learned on the sidelines, or from the living room couch.

You see, I’m a Chicago sports fan. Primarily, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears. And a quick look at their recent seasons shows that they haven’t exactly had game-changing results.

I wear this, proudly. Daaaa Bears.

So, all of those memories I have of settling down onto a couch and hanging my head in shame at the most recent loss by my hometown teams…they’ve added up into some great moral fiber! I am a stronger person because of it!

Just to name a few:

  • Optimism. As Cubs fans say, “There’s always next year!”
  • Loyalty. If you can stick beside a losing team year after year, you can probably dole out loyalty where it really matters…like, with family, friends, and partners.
  • Hope. All of those losses and dead-end seasons make the wins and milestones so much better! It is through darkness that we learn to truly appreciate the light.
  • Perseverance. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
  • Realism. Almost converse of optimism, this quality is the understanding that you probably won’t win against the best teams, but it’s fun to dream.
  • Acceptance. Sometimes accepting what is outside of our hands can be a major turning point in our experiences as humans. Just like we must learn to hand our fate to God despite knowing things may not go our way, we must also be willing to let our dignity rest in the sometimes-incapable hands of the teams we support. And when things don’t go as well, we continue the learn the lessons listed here.
  • Appreciation. It isn’t always the wins that make us love our teams. While I never go to Wrigley Field expecting a massive season-altering win, I do go expecting a great time. I go expecting to have a fantastic experience in the most beautiful baseball field in the U.S. with a crowd that’s unlike any other. I appreciate the Cubs and the Bears for many reasons, and it isn’t because of their ability (or lack thereof) to rack up the wins.
  • Empathy. When another friend’s team loses, I’m more apt to say, “I understand how you feel,” than I am to say, “Nah nah nah boo boo!” Unless, of course, the team is one of the following: The Chicago White Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Green Bay Packers, or the Indianapolis Colts. (The baseball and football teams are listed respectively by decreasing amounts of hatred, if anyone was curious.)
  • Toughness. My team may have lost, but I sure at heck ain’t going to let the haters make me feel inferior!

So, you see, being a sports fan has some benefits. It has other benefits, for different folks, too. I know a lot of people whose mathematical skills have developed simply because of tracking stats! That isn’t the case for me, however.

Wrigley's man-operated scoreboard is the best way to follow game stats in Major League Baseball! Ain't she a beaut?

I joke and laugh about how cheering for losing teams is a character-building activity, but, at the same time, it reaffirms many of the valuable lessons I learned while conducting FFA meetings, doing volunteer work with 4-H, or running drills on a soccer field. I joked a lot recently on Twitter about being a sore losers when the Broncos beat Da Bears in sudden death overtime, but I rolled with the teasing with a good nature and smile. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and sometimes we’re playing a losing game. If that’s the case, take a page out of Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fans’ book: smile, move on, and prepare to meet the next challenge head-on with all of the speed of Marlon Byrd and all the force of Brian Urlacher!

15 Signs That You Grew Up in the Country

My last few posts have been pretty heavy in the serious stuff lately, so I decided it was time to lighten things up a bit. This blog is a somewhat manic blend of somewhat unrelated topics: internships, growing up, careers…and agriculture. So, of course, I have a little party inside of my head every time I can cross those things together. Without further ado, this is Kelly M. Rivard’s __ Signs That You Grew Up in the Country.

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The Definition of Home

This summer has been the most profound learning experience I have ever had.

I totally burst my comfort zone. I left home…and by “leaving home” I mean, I left home to the point where I couldn’t just drive home anytime I wanted to. By “leaving home,” I meant I moved seven states and a few time zones away. I am working the most demanding internship I have ever had. I love this summer, for all of the ways it has shown me my own potential.

Because of this summer, I face the future’s uncertainties with much more confidence. I may not know where I will be in a year, but I do know that I am more than capable of handling it. Continue reading

Decyphering Ag-Cronyms – Part 2

For this edition of “Decyphering Ag-Cronyms” I’d like to go back to the basics. Most of my readers will know the gist of what I’m writing about, but I figure it never hurts to refresh on the foundations of a strong knowledge. So, today I’ll talk about why FFA and 4-H are called what they’re called.

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