Learn to Listen

(Originally Published January 17, 2014)

I went into class yesterday with a mission.. to put the myths brought forward by evil media to rest. But while watching the second half of Food Inc., I realized that I wasn’t angry anymore… I was nervous. The palm sweating and heart racing before a big rival basketball game nervous. (The large coffee I was drinking on an empty stomach probably wasn’t helping either).

Why? Good question. I went into this class overly prepared. I mean, I had resources out the wazoo explaining the “Myths vs. Facts” of the movie, UDSA and FDA rules and regulations and all other bizarre and bogus things I wanted to clear out of my classmates minds. Everything was laid out and ready to face the class and tell them “this is my story.” When it came time for discussion, I was the first to comment. I felt my face starting to flush and my temperature sky rocketing. But when I started talking, there was only one line that I wanted everyone to hear:

“When you watch this film, I don’t want you all leaving with this in your mind as an accurate picture of agriculture. This isn’t how we are spending our lives and careers trying to feed you.”

That’s when I saw a classmate rolling his eyes before blurting out and interrupting me:

“But you’re a farmer so you’re just letting your emotions make you bias.”

Before I could even respond, our professor put up her hand and cut him off with (what seemed like) disgust. After his outburst and about three more minutes of discussion, class was over. Right away our professor came over to where Kelley, Mary (fellow farm born and raised classmates) and I were sitting to say thank you. With a genuine smile she explained to us how she liked the discussion points we were bringing up. It was that moment I realized that this woman and I may not agree on much, I respected the hell out of her.

We discussed that it seemed like the class was split half and half. Some thought farmers were being attacked while others thought it was big corporations. Because we ran out of time in class, no one was able to get into a deep discussion. However, us three farm girls were given a task by our professor. It is now our job to create discussion points and concerns that we have for our classmates. Our professor is then going to take what we want to know and create a response survey. Together, we came up with a three step plan:

  1. Have students take response survey
  2. Base the class discussion around the survey questions
  3. Have students retake response survey

Then what? Oh I’ll tell you what’s next… my most epic blog yet. **Fireworks and sparklers going off in the background** I cannot WAIT to dive into the different results this discussion may yield in the survey. Even if the results don’t swing the way I hope they do, it’s still  going to open a window into the minds of my fellow classmates and peers. Maybe keeping my mouth closed and just listening to what these students have to say will help me start understanding their thought process and reasoning will help me find the right approach to communicating with them and other young adults I have to study and work with.

Despite the outcome, this is a huge step… actually leap in the right direction. A professor has opened her mind and lecture for us to express our passion, promoting the positives of the agricultural industry. This one is definitely a win for farmers!

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