The holidays are a time of reflection for the past year and a renewed sense of hope for the upcoming year. Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season. It helps us all think about and appreciate the things in our lives we often take for granted. It is a time to be thankful not only for our own lives, but for those who have given us so much.
Most people in my generation do not take the time to think about where their holiday feast comes from. The ones responsible for the harvest often go without thanks, yet they spend their holiday working because food production does not stop simply because it is Thanksgiving.
One of the best statements I have ever heard was from a young cattleman named Reed Fussell around this time last year in reference to his family ranch.
He told me, “The cattle don’t know it is Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other holiday. No, they still have to eat regardless, and we have to be the ones to feed them.”
He was absolutely right. Agriculture does not rest because it is the holiday season. On the contrary, it goes into overdrive. People want and need to be fed, and farmers and ranchers must work to produce the lavish Thanksgiving meal on so many tables this week in America.
I spend this time reflecting on the people and the industry that has given me so much. While I did not grow up on a family farm or even as a part of the agricultural industry, it is where I have found my passion and my home — a home filled with people with servants’ hearts who make an incredible impact without even knowing it.
Over the years, I have been blessed to encounter the amazing people who make up the agricultural industry. The Fussell family is just one of the many families who have supported and taught me what it means to be stewards of the land. They work tirelessly producing beef and advocating for the industry. They taught me how to ride a horse, work cattle, and the meaning of a true hard days work. The way this family comes together to get work done on the family ranch is an inspiration. Families like theirs are the reason why the agriculture industry will continue to thrive. I am thankful to learn from them.
The industry is full of hard workers like the Fussells. Gene Lollis is another producer who comes to mind when I think of being thankful and working hard. He is the ranch manager of Buck Island Ranch in Venus, Florida. I worked for him as a cattle intern this summer and learned lessons that changed my life. The main three lessons he taught me were to get up, show up, and never give up. These are the lessons he lives by and are very relevant to life, especially this time of year. Even being given the opportunity to show up to work everyday is a blessing that I cherish. The agricultural industry never rests and these producers deserve our thanks.
Shelby Oesterreicher is a graduate student at the University of Florida majoring in Agricultural Communication. She hopes to work within the Florida beef industry upon graduating in 2018.