A South Dakota student has won the 2017 National Ag Day essay contest with her heartfelt reflection on agriculture this past Thanksgiving.
Bridger Gordon from Whitewood, South Dakota, won a $1,000 prize and will travel to Washington, D.C., for recognition at the National Press Club on March 21, 2017. During this event, she will have the opportunity to read the winning essay as well as join with industry representatives and media.
The theme for the 44th National Ag Day is “Agriculture: Food For Life” and will be celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country.
National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food, and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.
Check out the award winning essay here:
Agriculture: Food for Life
By: Bridger Gordon
“MMMM … these mashed potatoes are delicious,” I told my grandma as we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at her house this past November. Her face lit up, and she proceeded to tell us grandkids about the potatoes and other vegetables from her garden, then segued to talking about the bountiful crop of wheat, sunflowers, and corn she and grandpa had been blessed with as well. Her pride in raising the food to feed her family – and the world’s – as she’s done for some 50 years was evident.
Soon the dinner table conversation turned to my dad, uncle, and grandpa discussing the corn and soybean crop and looking ahead to spring planting. Talk of crop rotations, cover crops, and using precision ag tools to add efficiency and care for the land pepper the conversation. So too does talk of grandpa’s retirement, he’s nearing 73 and has spent his life on this farm – the same farm his dad operated. My uncle and his family already live on the farm, but will be transitioning into more of the farm management and ownership in the near future.
“Did you know that China is the most populated country in the world?” my cousin says as she interrupts the conversation. She recently traveled to China for a college class and begins telling stories, noting that most of China’s 1.3 billion people live in cities and that they – like many countries around the globe – do not have the fertile farmland or skilled farmers to produce enough food. Hence, they rely heavily on ag imports – many from American farms – to feed their growing population.
I gaze out the window at the cows on the pasture – and see a deer dash into the shelterbelt of trees. My gaze extends to the grain elevator and water tower of the nearby community silhouetted on the horizon. I think about the many families, like mine, who rely on farming for their livelihood. But I also realize the local bank, school, grocery store, and other businesses – from the auto dealer to the insurance agent to the gas station – are all intertwined with the agricultural economy. This interconnectedness with agriculture among families, communities, and economies is mirrored across my state, across the nation, and around the world.
As I ponder this day of gratitude and thanksgiving, I am overwhelmed by my family’s farming heritage. While we often think of food merely as sustenance, I see much more. Agriculture is a livelihood for families and a stewardship of natural resources – from generation to generation. Agriculture fuels and feeds countries who cannot sustain themselves. Agriculture encompasses – and enhances – the entire environment harnessing soil, water, sunlight to produce food, habitat, employment- all existence. Indeed, agriculture truly is “food for life.”