Life Unexpected

I think that most people can honestly say that their life didn’t turn out the way they imagined it. For most people though, these things we don’t expect become the biggest blessings in our lives. I personally would have to say that I couldn’t even have imagined the life I have, but I also wouldn’t change one thing about it.

Two years ago, I was not the girl who ever would have joined a sorority, and very honestly, I would not fit into most sororities, but I found my place in Sigma Alpha. I found a group of women who love, support, and encourage me. Through Sigma Alpha I have met lifelong friends, women I feel like I can talk to who understand what it’s like to have and pursue a passion that doesn’t necessarily line up with gender norms.

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Two years ago, I didn’t know the first thing about engines, it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested I just never took the time to learn it. Yet here I am passionate about a major that is based around mechanical systems, most of the clubs I’m in have something to do with engines, from ASM Club where we restore classic tractors to the Ag tech expo where students do a project on the new technologies in agriculture, most of which are based on some sort of machinery. I am in an internship at an Ag Machinery dealership, an important aspect of my job being to know about tractors. If you told me that is what my life would look like two years ago I probably would have laughed, and told said you were crazy. It just wasn’t part of my “life plan.”

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I always knew that agriculture was my passion and I was POSITIVE that I knew what I wanted to do, where I would end up in life, and exactly who I would be. That’s not life though, as I learned more about who I was and found the people I really fit in with my perspective on what my idea that my passion was changed. I no longer was dead set on one path, I saw that in life there are many ways to get to the same place. The most freeing decision I made was to let go of what I thought I wanted and learned what I actually wanted and needed.

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I have learned that sometimes when we expand our view, take a step outside of our comfort zone, and learn who we are we understand ourselves better and therefore are able to see that sometimes our “perfect life plan” doesn’t fit who we are becoming anymore. Or maybe it does, and that’s important to know too.

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I think we as people have the tendency to forget that we all change, we get new experiences, learn more, and see new things that change who we are and how we see things. We can get so caught up on what we think is the most important thing that we sometimes miss the blessings right in front of our eyes.

We forget to take a step back and look at where we are, or on the other hand, we refuse to take a step outside of our comfort zone because of fear. For me, the best decisions I’ve made, the ones that have brought me the most joy, is from when I’ve done both of those things. So take the step, either way, maybe both, learn something about yourself that you didn’t see before, and learn to love life as it comes. Life changes constantly, it’s exciting and scary at the same time, so learn to take it as it comes, learn to love it, since you only get one, why not enjoy it?

In Sisterhood,

Allison

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Allison Fox – Ag Systems Management

Why Study Abroad

I recently embarked on a trip of a lifetime. I spent two weeks in Ireland on an agriculture-based, specifically the equine industry, study abroad trip. The trip consisted of two weeks touring farms all over the island and of course seeing all of the sights. Incredible does not even begin to explain the things I was able to experience on this trip.

As an equine science major, I feared that I would not get the opportunity to study abroad because the programs wouldn’t pertain to my major. Studying abroad has always been a goal of mine, but it’s expensive and can be time consuming. As soon as I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Ireland to tour the equine industry, I immediately jumped on the idea.

With this trip we toured dairy farms on islands, water buffalo dairy farms, pony trekking on the beach, visiting a donkey sanctuary, cattle marts, horse farms, agriculture fairs, horse races and so much more. I feel I got to experience true Ireland with the farm tours and see how agriculture plays such a large role for the country. Along with farm tours we went to the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, and the city of Dublin.

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Erin and Elizabeth creating the Sigma Alpha “crest.” 

We got to see a good chunk of the beautiful island and pick up bits and pieces of the Irish culture. The sights, tours, and relationships developed were beyond anything I could have dreamt of.

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Dairy Island on Valentia Island

Studying abroad can be a scary and foreign thing and there are a million and one reasons not to, whether it be the cost, the time commitment, or not knowing anyone. BUT there are so many reasons to go abroad! There are many different programs that you can choose from and many different ways to pay for these trips. It’s all about using your resources and taking a step out of your comfort zone.

The experiences are once in a lifetime. There is no way I could have ever galloped horse-back across the Irish beaches or cuddled donkeys in a donkey sanctuary or experienced the Irish culture AND still received college credit without this trip.

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Pony trekking in Glenbeigh

There are excuses not to go abroad, but none of them could ever outweigh the amazing adventures you will have.

In Sisterhood,

Erin

 

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Erin Corcoran is from Champlin, MN and will be a junior this fall. She is majoring in Equine science with a minor in Agri-buisness.

 

 

 

The Workaholic

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The importance of a strong work ethic was bestowed upon me from my parents at a very young age.  It all started one summer day when I was eleven years old.  I complained of being bored to my parents and my dad said “that’s it!  You are gonna learn a work ethic today!”  That’s when my younger sister and I started our own business growing fresh fruits and vegetables for resale in our community.  Every year our customer base grew and we landed our first big customer.  Our big customer for about five years was the local public school system.  We sold them tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, corn, and many more.  Our business grew so much so that we had to increase the size of our garden to two acres.  I thank my parents very much for giving me a strong work ethic.

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Without my strong work ethic, I would be in debt and in a completely different place right now.  My goal is to get through college without going into debt.  I see many of my peers getting student loans, accruing thousands of dollars of debt while not worrying about how they spend their money.  Or I see situations where parents pay for everything and the child suffers in the end because they don’t understand how much work it takes to make a dollar.

Agriculture backgrounds help install a work ethic.  Agriculture can be very time sensitive and requires long hours of HARD work.  A lot of people say I’ll do that tomorrow, but tomorrow may never come when it comes time to plant or harvest.  It could rain and get too muddy.  Or it could hail and ruin your crop stand.  Crops need to be sprayed or fertilized at certain times when conditions are optimum for it.  Time stops and you must drop everything to make a profit.  In agriculture, even if you do everything right you still may not make a profit.  Mother nature controls weather.  And if you aren’t on top of it and getting things done when you can then you will fail.  In agriculture, mother nature forces you to be responsible and determined and to work hard.  Even though agriculture requires a lot of effort, it also gives you a great sense of accomplishment by watching your crops or animals grow.

I would like to share one of my favorite quotes that I live by with you…

 “Live today like nobody else so you can live tomorrow like nobody else.”

– Dave Ramsey

In sisterhood,

Hailey

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Hailey DuBord – Crop and Weed Science

What’s On Your Bucket List?

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie The Bucket List.  For those of you who have not seen it, the movie is about two people who go on a trip with a list of things they want to do before they die, hence the term “Bucket List.” Essentially, it is a list of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to accomplish in a lifetime, according to Google.

Recently, I crossed one item off of my bucket list-visiting the Mall of America and it got me thinking that I need to revamp my list as a soon to be college graduate. So, here is a few things that are on my bucket list:

  1. Travel-Vatican City, Rome, Mexico, Caribbean, California, Oregon, Washington, Paris, Maine, Rhode Island, Georgia, Florida, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, and more
  2. See the Northern Lights
  3. Coach a FFA team to Nationals
  4. Go to the Red River Valley Fair
  5. Inspire someone
  6. Get married and have kids
  7. Swim with dolphins
  8. Watch the Olympics in person
  9. Learn how to play guitar
  10. Eat at Zorbaz
  11. Go scuba diving
  12. Fly in a hot air balloon
  13. Go to Disneyland/Disneyworld
  14. Take a dance class
  15. See the Grand Canyon & Niagara Falls
  16. Ride a Segway

Now this is only part of my bucket list and as you can see, it is really just a bunch of random things that I would like to do someday. Do you have a bucket list? If so, when was the last time you added to it? If not, make one-you may learn something about yourself.

“One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”

In sisterhood,

Renae

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Renae Tokach is a Senior from St. Anthony, North Dakota. Her major is in Agricultural Education and her minors are in Animal Science & Extension. This past school year Renae worked hard on our chapter’s by-laws and coordinated our Ag Women of the Year award.

 

Summer Experience of a Lifetime

This summer I decided to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and accepted a position as a merchant intern with Cargill, the largest family owned corporation in the world. After completing my junior year in May, I packed up my car and drove 775 miles to the town of Lafayette, Indiana, the place I would call home for the next twelve weeks. Prior to this experience I had never really stepped out of my comfort zone and gone somewhere I didn’t know anybody, so I was a bit nervous to see what the summer experience would bring.

It turns out all the worrying was for nothing. I was one of 14 interns for my region, so I was with people who were experiencing the same nerves as I was. My first day on the job I was introduced to all the people I would spend the next 12 weeks with, and I knew from that point on I would have a great summer. I was fortunate to be blessed with an amazing supervisor and co-workers who are beyond knowledgeable in the industry and want to help me succeed.

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A little over a month has passed, and I have become accustomed to living in Indiana. I have learned so much through my internship and have been assigned projects to ensure I get the most out of my experience. This summer will help me decide if merchandising is a career path I want to pursue in my future. My experience goes beyond the projects, as I also have been on the road touring company facilities around the US. So far I have been in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, and before the end of the summer I will have visited Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and North Carolina. Traveling has given me the opportunity to branch out and network with many agriculturalists from around the US, so it truly has been an adventure of a lifetime.

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The view from one of Cargill’s locations in Cincinnati, Ohio

Knowing how much my internship experience has impacted me, I would recommend every college student to pursue an internship in an industry they are interested in. Not only are they great resume builders, but the real-world experience you can acquire is unlike anything else. It may turn out you absolutely love your internship and know you are truly passionate about a certain career path, which is great. On the other hand, you may hate it and decide you want nothing to do with the industry, which is fine too. As the old saying goes “life is all about finding something you love to do so you never have to work a day in your life.” So, if you are a college student, step out of your comfort zone and pursue an internship. It might be the best choice you will ever make!

In sisterhood,

~Ann

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Ann Denk is originally from Mondovi, Wisconsin. She is graduating in December with a degree in Ag Economics and an Animal Science minor. Besides being involved in Sigma Alpha, Ann is also the treasurer of the Ag Business Club. 

Keeping History Alive

The history of the agricultural industry has always been intriguing to me, and keeping it alive is a hobby for myself and many others around the world. Personally I have been able to feed my curiosity at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion which is located in Rollag, Minnesota. Every Labor Day weekend hundreds of volunteers work to put on a show for thousands of visitors, using antique farm equipment, farming with horses and running huge steam powered engines. Growing up going to the show has always been a family tradition, where we all can connect, enjoy each other’s company and show off our favorite red Farmall tractors.

As I grew older I caught what many call the “Steam Bug”, I had the itch to get up onto the huge, one hundred year old engines powered by steam due to the heating of water by fire. These engines were once used to plow the fields, run sawmills and separate grain. Luckily I knew a few people who were involved with some of the many steam engines located at the WMSTR showgrounds and I slowly started to get more of a hands-on experience and I fell in love with getting to be up on the platform and helping to steer the machines through the daily parades. For me getting to be on an engine only made me hungrier to learn more about how it all worked, and I wanted to be able to run the engine with my own knowledge.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Henningsgaard Photography 

This past Father’s Day weekend I was able to attend the University of Rollag Steam School, which is held right at the WMSTR grounds. Steam School is a two day, sixteen hour course, which educates around 65 students yearly on the safe operation and principles of Steam Traction Engineering. After completion of the course one can choose to go through a series of steps to take the Minnesota Historical Boiler License exam. Each engine, is required to have a licensed engineer in attendance while there is pressure in the boiler, this is needed to ensure safe levels of steam & water. Without close watch a boiler can end up under very high pressure and could potentially be very dangerous for anyone near it. During Steam School it was apparent that there still is an interest in steam engineering, and of those there is a growing number of women, this year I was one of 17 females who completed the course, this is the largest number of women that the University of Rollag has ever had since it started in 1982!

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Photo Credits: Ladies of Steam LLC

For myself and other operators of steam traction engines, steam locomotives, and prairie tractors it is not just about fulfilling the “need for steam” but it is also about working to preserve the past. It is about allowing history to come alive, to let people enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the past. It is only a glimpse into the long labor filled days of past agriculturalists, but it makes it possible to imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago. Without the innovations and hard work of those that came before us the agricultural industry would not be as efficient as it is today. So the next time you’re sitting in your air conditioned cab of your tractor or see a farmer as you pass by on the road, think about what you would have been seeing a hundred years ago.

In Sisterhood,

Sarah

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Sarah Wendt is about to start her second year at NDSU this fall. She is originally from Frazee Minnesota. Agriculture Education is her major and Extension Education and Animal Science are her minors. 

What 15 Years of 4-H Taught Me

Well it is the end of another Williams County 4–H fair. It has been a long week for our 4-H exhibitors, their animals and all the volunteers that have put in hours of time to make the fair possible, so bear with me as I attempt to write this story with very little sleep.

I started my 4-H experience 15 years ago when I was 7. I showed static exhibits like everyone and started out showing chickens and ducks. I eventually worked my way up to showing heifers and cow calf pairs. I remember all the ribbons, the interviews, the rope burns, and even being run over a few times, but that is the price you pay when you work with livestock right?

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One of my favorite static projects was my oak desk that went on to win a grand champion at the ND state fair.

After the fair was done and all the ribbons were handed out and the last animal was loaded on the trailer, the main aspect that I remember was watching the older kids as I grew up. How they would act, the way they showed, when they gave advice and tips to younger showman. It was that advice and watching others as I grew up that lead me to where I am and who I am today. As we get older we have to remember that anyone can be watching us on how we act and what we say. I remember when I was one of the oldest exhibitors and I was put in that situation, I loved seeing the younger showman come running up to talk to me and even their parents encouraging them to ask me or several of the other senior showman advice for their species. The unique thing though is, learning went both ways. I can’t tell you all the things you can learn from junior showman, many of which will have you laughing about the things they say.

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My last Grand Champion show calf in 2013. I named him Mr. Magoo

This year marks my fourth year volunteering to help with our 4-H fair. It’s amazing to be on the other side of the fair production. I have been able to stand back and watch the senior showman interact with the intermediate and junior showman. It’s great to see the smile on everyone’s faces when they get to talk and interact and just have fun doing what they love to do.

This brings me to the second part of this story, (and just when you thought I was done). As I said earlier in my story, I just finished my fourth year volunteering for my county 4-H. Without volunteers and all the hard work that my county extension agents put into it each year, we probably wouldn’t have a smooth running fair. It’s because of those parents and 4-H alumni that step in to volunteer their time that makes it all the worthwhile. It shows the kids that they can do more than just show their animal, they can help and gain the necessary skills to grow in the community and how to give back their time without any reward necessary besides the satisfaction that they were able to help make events successful or put smiles of the kids’ faces.

Another important topic; senior showman when you graduate from 4-H, come back and volunteer your time. I know once you are in college schedules get pretty crazy and you don’t think you have the time but please, make the time. Trust me when I say it is worth it to put in the time and effort just so those showman can have a fun and exciting fair experience. I know they appreciate it, the parents appreciate it and I’m sure your county agent does too.  

Enjoy the rest of you summer!

In sisterhood,

Katie

Funny Picture Alert: If anyone has shown calves before, you know how tough they can be to show…

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Katie Sperling is a senior from Williston ND. She stays very busy double majoring in Animal Science and Veterinary Technology. Katie also has two minors: Equine Science and Large Animal Veterinary Technology. Can you tell she loves animals? 🙂