Who are the next generation of agriculturists? Meet one today in Taylor Truckey, originally from Sherwood, Michigan and residing in East Lansing, Michigan where she is a senior at Michigan State University.
I met Taylor in the summer of 2013 at an AgChat Foundation conference. It was my first night at the conference and I purposely said I was only going to spend time with new faces, people I had never met before. I remember Taylor introducing herself to me and later saying, “You’re much sassier in person than you are online.” I loved her wit. She was mature, fun and goal-driven. We hit it off and became fast friends.
This past summer Taylor was on road trip and showed up early in the morning at our house, spending the day with the girls and me. We sat in our living room and drank coffee, laughed together and talked about Taylor’s future. When Taylor left our home and drove down the road, I thought to myself what an exciting future Taylor has. She is writing her ticket. She has a “brand” on her blog, a voice and a plan. I can’t wait to follow along with Taylor’s future as a woman of agriculture.
In her own below words, meet Taylor.
What is your role in agriculture today? Currently, I’m a student! I’m studying Crop and Soil Sciences at Michigan State University and I’ll be graduating as a super senior in 2015 (victory lap, anyone?). After graduation, I will be working as a District Sales Manager for a crop genetics company. I’ll be working daily with farmers and producers to help them grow the best possible crops that they can. I also work towards building relationships with farmers and college aged consumers so that I can help to tell the story of agriculture and the people who grow (and eat!) our food.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I grew up on a small beef cattle operation in southern Michigan where we also raised sheep, dairy feeder steers, hogs, and chickens as 4-H projects. I was lucky enough to show horses for a number of years, I can’t wait to be able to get back into that after college! Through high school, I was actively involved in 4-H and FFA; both of these organizations have contributed to the leader and forward thinker that I am today.
I think most people would say that agriculture has taught them the value of things like hard work, honesty, and integrity. All of these are things that I have learned from years of raising and showing livestock, and from participating in 4-H and FFA. Agriculture has shaped my life in even more profound ways then building certain aspects of my character. Working in ag has allowed me to meet some phenomenal people from all walks of life with a variety of interests and passions. In meeting them, I’ve been exposed to skills, hobbies, and opportunities that I never would have been exposed to before! I’ve also met many incredibly driven, kind, down-to-earth people (the kind of people who make you a better person just for knowing them) and I’m so incredibly blessed to call many of them friends now.
What excites you about your community? Although I’ve grown up in a few small towns, there is one thing that never changes. In hard times, and in good times, you will always have people around you that support you, believe in you, and lift you higher to help you achieve your dreams. In times of need, there is always someone who will be there to lend a hand or offer support. Beyond that, there is just something about growing up in agriculture that means you will have a community no matter where you end up in the world. Attending MSU means that I’m living in a college town of 50,000, but being in the College of Ag and Natural Resources means that I will always be around the students that have a lot in common with me. I will always be the girl who grew up on the farm just down the road.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? I recently took a chance when I applied for a communications internship with AgWired; I was invited to join them at a few events during November as their Fall Intern. It has been a crazy experience being able to interview top leaders in the agriculture industry, blog for a well-known agriculture news resource, and experience an event like National FFA Convention from behind the scenes! I also tried pork belly at a restaurant in Louisville, it was surprisingly delicious.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? It is important that everyone knows they have something to offer. I believe in encouraging others through finding their strengths or passions and helping them use those tools to do great things. I encourage others by always being willing to help out, listen, or talk through a project that they are planning.
The things that encourage me are a little different. I want to make my family, community, and university proud. More importantly, I want to lay my head on my pillow at night knowing that I gave it my all that day; that I pushed myself to be greater today than I was yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, knowing my parents and mentors are proud of me is a wonderful thing, but knowing that I can be proud of myself is pretty great, too.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? There are a number of intelligent, strong, beautiful women that I would pick as mentors. There are businessmen and women alike that I would LOVE to have the opportunity to reach out and direct questions toward. Luckily for me, the people in the ag industry are traditionally very welcoming. They make it known that their door is always open whether you would like to call for advice or even stop by for a home-cooked meal when you’re traveling. But let’s be honest, I want to be Olivia Pope, so that would be pretty cool.
What I never expected was that people would approach ME to be their mentor. I’m 21 years old, a student, I get average grades, and I am terrible at telling jokes. But that very thing has happened as I’ve moved through my college career. This has taught me that others are always watching. I think it’s great to have an open door policy and make myself available as a mentor so that my peers can benefit from the same opportunities and knowledge that I have gained over my years in agriculture. I’m sure I will learn just as much from them as they will from me!
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? Be patient. You can have everything that you want, you just can’t have it all right now. In the era of instant gratification (don’t get me wrong, I love Google), we are used to having results at our fingertips instantly and when it comes to our careers or hobbies, we don’t like to be patient. I have huge dreams for myself, but I know that I have to work my hardest to make them happen; they won’t happen tomorrow just because I WANT them to. Take that knowledge, process it, then apply it to whichever part of your life that you need to. Always strive for personal development. You can reach more audiences to be an advocate if you are well-versed or at least semi-knowledgeable on topics outside of agriculture. Also, don’t ever be afraid to try for an opportunity that you think is out of your reach. Sometimes you just have to convince people that you are the right person for the job!
What makes you smile? Sunrises, good lipstick, my friends and family. Agriculture and the people I’m lucky enough to work with. Knowing that I’m making a difference.