It’s a greeting I’ve uttered to myself for 10 years, each time I cross the Mississippi River headed home to Texas County. Today, I share that greeting from within our state’s borders, as an ‘almost official’ Missouri resident once again.
This month I stepped into my new role as the Director of Public Affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau. Throughout my career I’ve had the chance to work with the organization and its membership, learning and sharing information. Most recently, I was the anchor for the Market Day Report and the Rural Evening News on RFD TV. At one time, that was my dream job, living in Nashville, Tennessee, working in TV and telling stories of agriculture. It was pretty dreamy sometimes. I reported on agricultural issues and events from coast to coast and traveled beyond those coasts. I reported from the White House, met farmers and ranchers, and country recording artists.
Those and other experiences were big and wonderful, but home is the only place that always draws me back. Of course, home is about family, but it is also about the history we share: the people, the places and the potential. I’m excited to be back!
When I consider my career path, I feel it actually began in high school with the Missouri Farm Bureau. The organization’s annual FFA speaking contest was likely the first time my talking abilities were “put to good use.” My FFA advisor, Chuck Miller, encouraged me to participate. I made it to the state level and took home third place, but my favorite memory is the people I met. Dick Marshall with the Brownfield Network was a judge. Little did I know, I’d get to call him a coworker just a few years later. One of my fellow contestants, Robin (Britt) Gebhardt and I would later be on the same state FFA officer team. Two other gentlemen, Andrew McCrea and John Kleiboeker, would later become friends and professional acquaintances.
This stroll down memory lane brings a smile to my face, but it also ignites a spark of excitement for what lies ahead.
Like agriculture, our small towns have seen a lot of change and challenges through the years. Change may be constant, but so is opportunity. It’s my hope that we, including the young people stepping toward their career path, will consider these opportunities as they come along. It may be a wandering path of highs and lows, achievements and challenges, but think of the scenery and experiences along the way.
I hope in this new role with the Missouri Farm Bureau I can help share the story of our farmers and ranchers, and of the rural communities of which they belong. Finding opportunities to highlight their importance to all of Missouri is exciting. So is the thought of making Missouri a great neighborhood to come home to.