Teaching the Next Generation the Importance of Agriculture

My husband, William and I are involved in agriculture today because both of our families were involved in agriculture and took time to teach us the importance of farming. I was raised on a small farm in Denham Springs, Louisiana. We raised Jersey and Milking Shorthorn dairy cattle of which I also showed in 4-H. William was raised on a small beef cattle farm in Stewart, MS. The work ethic and responsibility that we both gained on these farms has driven us to do what we LOVE on a daily basis.

William and I own White Farms in the Oktoc Community just outside of Starkville, along with William’s parents, John and Patsy White. We raise beef cattle and hay on our two hundred acre farm. We are the fifth generation on the family farm which was a Grade C dairy owned by William’s Father and Grandfather in the seventies. Our main goal on our farm is to be good stewards of the land provided to us by our ancestors. As a part of that we participate in both the Conservation Stewardship and EQUIP programs through USDA NRCS. These practices help us to enhance and improve the facilities, pastures and wildlife habitats on our farm. We both have a strong passion for agriculture and we work to instill that passion into our children, Matthew and Morgan. They work beside us on the farm daily caring for the land and animals and we are providing them with some of the same opportunities that our parents provided us as children.  We are connecting them to the farm by allowing them to purchase their own beef cattle and starting their own herds.  However, their 4-H projects (dairy cattle, market goats, and market lambs) have also added some diversity on the farm. We feel that these projects are important in teaching them many life skills while also creating a love for animals.

We spend many nights and weekends working on the land or with the cows since we both work off the farm. Even though we work off the farm we are both very involved in agriculture on a daily basis. William is the Facilities Coordinator for the Leveck Research Station, better known as South Farm, for Mississippi State University Animal and Dairy Science Department. He spends his days caring for the land, animals (beef cattle, horses, sheep and pigs) and facilities along with working with faculty, staff, and students of the Animal and Dairy Science Department and the College of Veterinary Medicine. I am an Extension Associate for the Mississippi State University Extension Service where I focus my time on Agriculture Literacy and the coordination of the FARMtastic program. FARMtastic, is an agricultural literacy program for 2nd-4th graders that teaches them the importance of agriculture to their daily lives by experiencing Mississippi Agriculture at their fingertips. Through our traveling exhibit children have the opportunity to see, touch, taste, and smell what life is like on a farm. For more information about FARMtastic, visit our website at www.farmtastic.msucares.com or follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) @farmtastic_ms.

Organizations such as Farm Bureau give farmers the opportunity to network and gain knowledge about our states diversity in agriculture. Our involvement with Farm Bureau began in 2004 when William became Young Farmer and Rancher Chair for Oktibbeha County Farm Bureau. Being on the State Young Farmer and Rancher Committee and competing in the Excellence in Agriculture contest helped us to realize the important role that Farm Bureau plays in the farming community and the importance of us becoming even more involved. After competing in the American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture contest, I had the opportunity to participate in the American Farm Bureau Partners in Agricultural Leadership program. This is a two year program that focuses on developing leadership and advocacy skills of farmers and agri-business professionals. PAL Class 8 consisted of ten farmers from across the nation involved in various types of agriculture. This program has helped me to further develop my passion for agriculture and my ability to be an advocate for Mississippi agriculture. On the County level, we are becoming more involved. William has recently been elected President of the board of directors and I was elected as Women’s Committee Chair. We look forward to serving in these new roles.

Farming is more than a job or a hobby, it’s a way of life. Every farm and farmer is unique and each has a story to tell. Our story, is our passion for agriculture and our desire to teach the next generation the important role farming plays in their daily lives.