Addie Pierce, daughter of Josh and Lauren Pierce, loves helping feed her family’s cows, especially her favorite, a white one named Belle. If she is not helping take care of their cattle, she can either be found at McGuffee’s Prescription & Gifts, the local pharmacy in Mendenhall that Josh owns, or at Puckett Elementary School, the school where Lauren teaches. At three years old, she has become accustomed to the fast paced life her family leads.

“When I leave school, I’m either running an errand to get something for the farm or helping at the drug store,” Lauren said. “We just kind of fly by the seat of our pants because a schedule just doesn’t work. Addie never knows where we’re going to be and when we’re going to be home, but she’s gotten used to just riding along.”

 

For the 2021 Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award winners, Josh and Laruen, full-time jobs, a farm and a family mean life outside the usual nine to five day. Three generations of the Pierce family, four if you include Addie, have raised cattle on acres of rolling hills in Simpson County.

There are not a whole lot of farmers left,” Josh said. “My late granddaddy raised cattle on this land. I remember coming here when I was growing up and how much I loved it. The farming runs in my blood. I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare industry so I could help people, but I also wanted to own my own business.”

“All that said, the Lord works in mysterious ways,” he continued. “So here we are, working in farming and pharmacy. My granddaddy used to call me the drugstore cowboy before he passed, and now Lauren calls me that. I am proud to have the opportunity to pursue both of my passions.”

Josh is not the only family member to farm and work in the healthcare industry. His mother, Janet Pierce, is a nurse and his brother, Johnathon Pierce, is a certified athletic trainer.

“I always tell Josh and my dad that we could easily all three quit our day jobs and have a full-time job here on the farm,” Jonathon said. “It works out well for the three of us to work the farm together. If one of us is busy, the other two can hold it down.”

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers program has proved to be a big help as the Pierces grow their businesses and family.

“We get to communicate with other young farmers and see what they’re doing on their operations,” Josh said. “We may be having a problem that they previously had, but don’t know how to solve it. The program allows us to bounce ideas off of each other and share with like-minded individuals what we are doing on the farm.”

Lauren also likes to use resources she has gained from the YF&R program and the farm in her first grade classroom.

“Every chance I get, I try to highlight agriculture in my classroom,” Lauren said. “Whether it’s in the books I read or the activities we do. This year, each student grew a squash plant. I got to teach them about where their food comes from while the plant grew. They students eventually got to enjoy the fresh vegetable, which is not something most of them had ever eaten.”

With their experiences in not just farming, but teaching and healthcare, the Pierces look forward to representing MFBF in the national Excellence in Agriculture competition.

“We just can’t wait. This is a big deal to us,” Josh said of the American Farm Bureau Federation contest. “It’s not every day you get to represent the entire state in something, so we are going to give it our best shot.”

“We’re so excited to be able to represent not only Mississippi, but our families and our farm,” Lauren added.

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