Finding My Voice In Agriculture

The following article is by Emily Sydow, FFA member from Sun Prairie.

I had the opportunity of a lifetime to take an Independent Study my senior year, this would task me with researching a topic for a whole semester then writing a report about my findings. But just what was I going to research…?

When sitting down with my teacher (Mr. Kvalheim) over summer pondering just what I was going to research. It hit me, during the week of June at the Wisconsin State FFA convention they offered many workshops to attend while different sessions and or awards were being done in the main room. These workshops can range from “How to be an active alumni after you hang up your blue jacket” or “How to make the perfect treat for your pawsome friend” to even “Boot Scootin Boogie into learning the essential line dances” but I had found myself attending one about Agriculture Policy and Advocacy. When the end of the session came I was filled with questions and a new passion found. I knew that this is something I want to pursue, this career allowed me to practice advocating on something I love agriculture. Once my advisor and I had our topic “Agriculture Policy ” we went on creating our rubric. I would follow this to guide me through my research by giving me an area to research week by week. I created a document to compile all my work, and as of right now… it stands 20 pages long.

Every other day for a semester and I started researching what policy was and how it affects farmers, through my research I decided that I needed to see policy in action. This led me to meeting with different individuals within the field such as the 31st Representative Schutt, Grace Howe Director of Policy and Communications through Wisconsin Agri-Business, Shawn Pfaff a contract Lobbyist, and even DATCP’s policy analysis team. On November 14th I shadowed Grace Howe and Shawn Pfaff at the capital to watch the Farmland Preservation Bill 134 on the assembly floor. Throughout my time at the Capitol, Shawn introduced me to many hard working professionals and they explained many of the tasks they do in their day to day work. I have gained so much knowledge while meeting with professionals in the field and sharing their love and passion for policy and agriculture with me.

Through this experience I have gained many connections that I can use in my post-secondary education to further my knowledge and it has allowed me to explore an area that I have a strong interest in and passion towards. Come January I will be submitting a research paper combined of all my findings to be judged by Wisconsin FFA and through my research paper I will have the opportunity to win a state title and even earn money towards my post-secondary education.