A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.
His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were
a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)
I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.
It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.
One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.
One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.
One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.
All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.
All three never turned down a job.
Sweeping the shop floor
Tying feed sacks
Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
Delivering meals to the field
Cleaning up after meetings or guests
Taking out the trash
Sweeping out bins
Working in the pit
Loading trucks with bagged feed
Making parts runs
These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.
“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”
What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?
What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.
Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.
But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way.
We believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.
Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.
We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.
And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.
Though you may not have seen much coverage of it on the local or national news, a natural disaster took place last week in the heart of America. Wildfires ravaged through the plains and prairies of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, destroying human life, an estimated 5,000 head of cattle and 1 million acres, as well as homesteads and ranches.
This hasn’t been a popular news story because it didn’t affect the masses living within urban areas, it wasn’t politically fueled and there was no rioting to spark controversy. It hasn’t been on the news because it affected a group of people that – rather than march, protest, loot or cause any disturbance at all – tend to keep their head down, get their work done because they have a responsibility not taken lightly and typically mind their own business.
Since the devastation set in last week, thousands of individuals in hundreds of rural communities nestled in dozens of fly-over states have rallied together to gather supplies to assist those farmers and ranchers who lost the very basic tools they need to function as a working operation: feed, fences, horses, veterinary care and more.
Livingston Machinery convoy of hay Wednesday morning leaving Fairview, OK and heading to the area impacted by the blazes.
You see, there is fortune to be found in these fly-over states.
middle of nowhere
The fortune found is rural Americans.
Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never go hungry
Do you have a new baby? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.
A death in the family? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.
Did your youngest finally get engaged? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.
Did your basement flood with the spring rains? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.
Is the t-ball season finally over? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.
Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never need a high-tech home security system
Rural Americans have made a reputation of keeping a watchful (nosey?) eye on the community. They’re the first to call you when they see a suspicious vehicle parked over by the shop, sure to ask why the vet truck was at the barn for three hours last Monday and the first to call when they don’t see your daughter’s minivan at the house over Christmas.
Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never “not know”
As long as there are sale barns, kitchen tables, high school athletic games, church bulletins and farm auctions, word will get around. Folks in urban America may have high speed internet and Snapchat but they’ll never have the ability to push a message out to an entire community faster than the rural American main street diner.
Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never go without
Rural Americans supply the help when needed, sometimes in the form of a truck load of hay, sometimes in the form of a 14-year-old able-bodied son who is willing to work, sometimes in the form of a quarter cup of sugar. Rural Americans give when they can, where they can, and however they can.
There is fortune to be found in our beloved fly-over states, and it is each other. What an advantage we have to live in a world where we don’t have to hire moving trucks because we have friends with trucks and trailers. We don’t have to send Honey Baked Hams from some warehouse 2,000 miles away because we have a freezer full of farm fresh pork and a recipe card from Mary Jane’s Kitchen, 1976. We don’t have to fight life’s toughest moments alone, because we have Rural American neighbors, friends and strangers across the country bowing their heads when prayer is needed most.
Father’s Day is Sunday and you know what that means.
Kids and wives across the country are standing in front of the card section at the local grocery store, staring blankly into an endless selection of over-the-top-sappy, thats-just-not-my-Dad greeting cards, searching for the perfect card that sends the perfect message.
Something as basic as: You’ve been a good Dad. Thank you.
But those cards don’t seem to exist. And even if they did, there would be a strange feeling of inadequate expression if that were the only thing they told dad on Father’s Day.
In the spirit of appreciating the wonderful fathers we’ve been fortunate to know, this week we wanted to share with you a few the things dear old dad has taught us over the years.
We asked a handful of people to complete one simple sentence:
My Dad taught me ____________________________.
The response to this request was great.
And might have made our eyes water a bit, but we’d never let Dad see that.
My Dad taught me that he can take the chain off your bike if you do not get home on time for supper.
My Dad taught me that if someone is mad at you, you’ve done something. Look at yourself and your actions that could have caused their change towards you.
My Dad taught me to trust in God for everything.
My Dad taught me if you ever feel lonely, eat in front of a mirror.
My Dad taught me that family is forever.
My Dad taught me there is no “I” in “TEAM”
My Dad taught me the key to a good birthday is low expectations.
My Dad taught me about 4-H and the FFA.
My Dad taught me to work hard, yet stay humble.
My Dad taught me that is isn’t a good idea to eat spinach with strangers.
My Dad taught me that the main thing is: don’t panic. He usually said this when I was about to have a full-blown panic attack.
My Dad taught me how to spot a sick calf, drive a tractor, throw a football, hit a baseball, and cast a line.
My Dad taught me how to be competitive, yet be a good loser at the same time.
My Dad taught me the value of family.
My Dad taught me what true dedication is, his love for us kids, and mom has always been his motivation to work extremely hard, and to never give up! There are times that he shoulda given up, but he knew that wouldn’t leave a lasting impression on us boys.
My Dad taught me how to serve.
My Dad taught me to love teaching.
My Dad taught me to be an individual, not to roll with the crowd for the popular opinion.
My Dad taught me to suck it up.
My Dad taught me that getting up early makes for a more productive day.
My Dad taught me to work harder – no one owes you anything.
My Dad taught me that you don’t have to agree with someone to be respectful towards them. A lesson that is really coming in handy this election year.
My Dad taught me how to overcome.
My Dad taught me the value in doing things the right way, even when it isn’t easy. As a rural veterinarian, he could have taken shortcuts many times when he knew people couldn’t pay for his services. Instead, he chose to take the high road and did the right thing for every animal that walked into that clinic. He accepted payment for those services in unconventional ways – we got vegetables from a garden, fishing gear, a gun or two, and lots of random tools and small equipment. Because of his hard work and dedication to serving the community, he’s well respected in our hometown and all the ones that surround it. People who grew up here and have moved away bring their pets home when they come to visit so that Dad can give them a check up!
My Dad taught me to be a Purdue Boilermaker for life.
My Dad taught me to think before speaking.
My Dad taught me to be trustworthy and responsible.
My Dad taught me work ethic in such a way that as an adult I’ve never questioned getting a job done. Every able body should work.
My Dad taught me respect, determination, motivation and an everlasting love for Jesus.
My Grandpa (who basically was my dad) taught me that your word is who you are and what you’re all about. He also taught me that you have to work hard at everything you do in life. I carry both of these in my thoughts every single day and they have helped me get to where I am today.
My Dad taught me how to work at a young age. We’re talking Child Protective Services involvement, young age.
My Dad taught me to always keep your word. Whatever you promised someone in whatever time fashion and for whatever dollar figure, you fulfill that. Even if it means you may lose money on this job, you may stay up all night long performing the task you thought would just take a few hours, you keep your word. The next time, learn from your mistake by giving yourself more time and/or quoting the job better, but always be a person of your word.
My Dad tried to teach me to use a stick shift…we had a lot of laughs but not much success…to this day I still struggle with taking off.
My Dad taught me to work hard in life in order to achieve your dreams. I always observed how hard he worked professionally to support my mother and 8 children and then at home how hard he worked to maintain our home and still find time to play with us, swim with us and take us on mini one-day vacation trips. Being the youngest child, I was at home with my parents after my father retired and we spent many nights just talking about life. Oh how I miss that!
My Dad taught me how to be frugal. To this day I still take the hotel soap.
My Dad taught me to never use a chainsaw by myself . . . ever.
My Dad taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car, how to bowl and to put peanuts in your coke bottle before drinking. An interesting man, my dad was! I miss him.
My Dad taught me faith, love and laughter will bring you through anything.
My Dad taught me to have a sense of humor.
My Dad taught me to be stoic.
My Dad taught me that nothing in this world is free. You will have to work for everything that you get. It is not acceptable to rely on anyone else to support and provide for you or your family.
My Dad taught me to never grab a hot exhaust on a tractor.
My Dad taught me that my priorities should be in the following order: God, family and country. If I keep these in the right order I will live a prosperous and happy life. Also, no matter how far you have fallen God knows where you are and will listen to you if you only reach to him.
My Dad taught me that I was fortunate to be born into a good, trustworthy and hardworking family. It is my responsibility to hold up to that heritage and to raise my children to reflect the same values.
My Dad taught me to treat people the way that you would want to be treated.
My Dad taught me basic, simple mathematics (or, tried to anyway).
My Dad taught me how to use a manual transmission at the risk of destroying it.
My Dad taught me that mom was always right.
My Dad taught me to drink beer and listen to baseball on the a.m. radio in the evening.
My Dad taught me I should always over-tip at a restaurant. If I can’t afford to tip well, I should eat at home.
My Dad taught me that you’ll never taste a better tomato than one right out of your own garden.
My Dad taught me not to do something just for the recognition.
My Dad taught me the value of making my passion my paycheck.
My Dad taught me to never pee on an electric fence.
My Dad taught me that if all else fails, ask Siri.
My Dad taught me that men who respect their mothers respect their wives, being my mother. This is a good trait to look for when searching for a husband.
My Dad taught me that cutting my brother’s hair was a bad idea.
My Dad taught me the importance of faith and instilling it in your children.
My Dad taught me to always be 15 minutes early to everything. Ten minutes early is five minutes late.
My Dad taught me to love the Lord and his church.
My Dad taught me there are two things I can always control: my effort and my attitude.
My Dad taught me be open to things that I don’t understand, don’t agree with or have never experienced. “Step outside your comfort zone and learn from what happens.”
My Dad taught me the importance of education, asking questions and learning.
My Dad taught me how to drive a tractor.
My Dad taught me to never sweat the small stuff.
My Dad taught me how to fry a “juicy” egg. And yes, I get weird looks when I order my eggs this way in a restaurant today.
My Dad taught me to always do my best, no matter what I was doing.
My Dad taught me that a pretty smile is nice, but a strong backbone is the most admirable feature on a person.
My Dad taught me to swing a bat, dribble a basketball and serve a tennis ball, but with that also came an even more meaningful lesson in sportsmanship.
My Dad taught me by his actions and not his words. Always be friendly and cheery to others, volunteer at church, drink beer, throw parties and don’t take life too seriously.
My Dad taught me to have a sense of humor, to laugh at myself and always have a smile on my face.
My Dad taught me to care about others.
My Dad taught me to “Say what you will do and do as you say”!
My Dad taught me to ride a bike, drive a car, throw a strike, shoot a gun and cut the grass.
My Dad taught me to be proud that I grew up on a farm and learned the value of hard work. While I didn’t always agree as a kid, I certainly think now as an adult there is no better way to grow up.
My Dad taught me to keep my credit and my last name clean.
My Dad taught me that if you’re going to be dumb, you better be tough.
My Dad taught me to be independent, but not to refuse someone’s help if I need it.