Summer Activities: mark your calendars

The school year is wrapping up, and summer is about to take over. While many summer activities include cookouts, boating and soaking up the sunshine, I wanted to provide a few agricultural activities that you don’t want to miss out on:




Indiana’s Coliseum is Open for New Memories

The Indiana State Fair has deemed this year as the “Year of the Coliseum.” Due to needing updates, the Pepsi Coliseum closed in October 2012. After 18 months of renovations, the Coliseum reopened yesterday. The public was invited to come out to the free grand opening and cutting of the ribbon.

There has been a lot of excitement over the new coliseum, and I think that’s because of the personal tie many people have to the historic building. Whether it was taking the first step onto the freshly dragged dirt or walking in the ring for the Grand Drive at the State Fair, many youth and their families have meaningful memories from under that roof.

For me, the Coliseum takes me back to when I was thirteen. One of my best memories in that infamous ring was when my horse and I took our first steps in there together. I had butterflies like crazy as I entered that huge arena, but I remember being so proud of the two of us working as a team when we walked out with a ribbon.

He might be an old man now, but some of my favorite memories of the Coliseum are shared with my horse, Zip:


It may be renovated, but I have no doubt that the Coliseum will forever be a historic Indiana landmark and place of lifelong memories for Hoosiers.


*The Pepsi Coliseum first opened in 1939 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
*The only Beetle’s concert ever held in Indiana was at the Coliseum in 1964
*From 1967-1974 the Coliseum was home to the Indiana Pacers, and during that period the team won three American Basketball Association Championships.
*Past presidents have given speeches in the Coliseum, including John F. Kennedy in 1959 and George W. Bush in 2003.

What’s New
*From October 2012 to April 2014 the Coliseum went through a $63 million renovation.
*The new minor league hockey team, Indy Fuel, will have a brand new locker room.
*An LED video scoreboard will hang overhead.
*New seating will accommodate 8,200 people, which is 200 more than before
*A new concourse bar allows you to enjoy a drink and food while still watching what’s going on in the arena.
* Outside brick and limestone and the metal superstructure are still being used.
*One section will hold original seats from 1939.

To see pictures of the Coliseum undergoing renovation, click here.

Pancakes Under the Stars–Don’t miss out

If you’re anything like me, you refuse to go grocery shopping toward the end of the school year, and your pickings are getting slim.  But, don’t worry.  Purdue’s Agricultural Council has you covered.  Their annual Midnight Pancake Breakfast is this Wednesday (tomorrow) at 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Bring your friends, and head on over to the Agricultural Administration building lawn (along State Street) to enjoy music and a mechanical bull while the Ag Council serves free pancakes and milk. The event isn’t just for College of Ag students–it’s open to everyone.

Purdue Ag Council hosts multiple events throughout the year, including the Ice Cream Social, College of Ag Hog Roast, and Hot Chocolate Social.  You can also stay connected with them on Facebook and Twitter

Easter Fun

The Easter bunny might be hiding your eggs, but he isn’t producing them. As I’m preparing to decorate Easter eggs this afternoon, I can’t help but think that many of those hardboiled eggs that are being dyed various colors probably came from Indiana.

Fun Fact: Indiana ranks NO. 3 in top egg producing states.

I don’t come from a poultry farm, but we do have around 20 hens and roosters. They produce plenty of eggs for our family, and we’re able to give some away to friends. And when this time of year rolls around, I don’t have to go very far to find and decorate my Easter eggs.

This hen recently surprised us and hatched five chicks under our front porch. Around 20 weeks from now these chicks will be laying their own eggs.


Happy Easter!

Lessons Learned Through Agricultural Conversations

This morning as I was reading a post from Agriculture Proud titled, “How to Lose an Argument on Food and Agriculture Topics,” and I just had to share it. In his post Ryan Goodman, the author of Agriculture Proud, included a quote from Darwin that really stuck with me:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the ones most adaptable to change.” -Darwin

Granted Darwin was probably referencing his theory on “survival of the fittest,” but I think being adaptable to change is an essential quality for all aspects of life, especially in agriculture. In Goodman’s post he talks about the lessons he has learned during failure and why people, who have the best intentions of advocating, lose arguments. He specifically relates the quote from Darwin to failing to engage in other conversations and seek out other perspectives, but I think the quote pertains to each of his points.

Goodman’s ten lessons learned during failure and reasons for losing an argument are:

1. Assuming science will give us the answers; it only gives us some of the answers.

2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices.

3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices.

4. Being reactive rather than proactive.

5. Assuming we can’t do better.

6. Attacking everyone who disagrees with you in a negative, critical manner.

7. Not being willing to listen because we are so busy responding.

8. Assuming that the lunatic fringe is the general public.

9. Assuming that because someone disagrees with you they are stupid, evil or both.

10. Not working to branch outside your comfort zone.

As I was reading these points I couldn’t help but think how true they are. As an agricultural enthusiast, I can look back to every argument I ever had and lost and relate at least one of these points to the reason for losing. We can’t know everything, and we are not going to come from the same background as the person we are in conversation with. But, if we take Darwin’s quote to heart, and work to be more adaptive, we can not only be more successful arguing a point, but also learn more along the way.

In the post, Goodman then goes on to talk about how we can approach controversial topics. He has multiple points, but a few of my favorites are: consider your own biases or confusion surrounding the issue; set a framework and objectives for the discussion that lead to engagement and consideration of opposing viewpoints; and at the end of a conversation summarize and reflect, then always leave the door open for follow-up conversations.

After reading this post, I hope to remember these lessons and become better at engaging in agricultural conversations while being open-minded to other perspectives. To read the full list of tips and expand on lessons learned, check out this post on Agriculture Proud.

Advocating isn’t always easy

I have dedicated the last four years of my academic career to agricultural communications, so I should be pretty comfortable advocating about agriculture, right?  Well, to be honest, it can be a little intimidating. I love talking about agriculture, but when a controversial topic comes up, it can be scary to let your voice be heard. While scrolling through Pinterest, I ran across a blog post by fifth generation livestock producer Emily Jackson.  Her blog, A Farm Girl’s Fight, is an outlet for her to tell the truths about agriculture from her livestock perspective. In this particular post titled, “To the Man Who Knows Me Better Than I Know Me,” she talks about her encounter with two PETA representatives at Texas Tech. Her bravery to speak up and even invite the man to visit her family’s farm is noteworthy.

The PETA representatives had a tent set up on campus where students were given free stuff if they made it through. Emily and her teammate walked through the tent and ended up spending an hour conversing with the two men. Here is an excerpt from her blog post:

Dave talked with us for a few minutes about farming practices. He tried to inform us that beating animals was a common practice, we told Dave that we were farmers and this was not true. About this time, a new wave of students came in. Dave and Austin both excused themselves from our delightful conversation to inform innocent students of PETA’s false scares and untruthful statistics.

Folks, I’m a relatively level-headed person. But I have a passion for agriculture and watching this man falsely accuse MY industry took anger management to a whole new level.

I stood up on my tippy toes, mustered my strength, quieted my anger, and yelled:

“I’m a farmer. If you have any questions about farms, ask me, not them.”

Two things then happened: 
        1. Dave and Austin got real mad.
        2. Two girls on opposite ends of the tents turned around and yelled “me too! This is ridiculous.”
        -Emily Jackson, A Farm Girl’s Fight
In the end, the PETA representatives didn’t agree with her, nor did they go to her farm. However, her story left me thinking about one great point: be part of the conversation. Maybe she didn’t change those representatives’s minds, but at least they now have had at least one positive conversation with a farmer, and maybe her voice was able to educate at least one other student in that tent. No matter what the conversation is about, there is always room for someone to criticize you. But isn’t it better to be part of the conversation and be criticized rather than stay quiet and let others be falsely informed?



Purdue Veterinary Medicine Research

Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine uses a treadmill to conduct research on horse health. Casey  Cromer will conclude her undergrad this May in Animal Sciences and begins her journey in the vet school in Fall 2014.  She first got introduced to horse research in Purdue’s vet school as a freshman, and has spent the past four years doing hands-on research.

Watch the treadmill in action, and get the 101 from Casey here:





Who knew classroom readings were interesting

Ever have that ah-ha moment when something from the classroom shows up in real life? Well I just had one of those moments. The other day I was reading material for my horticulture class (HORT 306), and Norman Borlaug popped up. Then, this morning as I was reading the latest blog posts from Crystal Cattle, Borlaug came up again.

Norman Borlaug is considered the father of the Green Revolution (I learned that in HORT 306). But to my surprise, he would have been 100 years old on March 25, which was National Ag Day.   On her blog, Crystal Cattle shared a video remix of popular quotes from Norman Borlaug. And, I must say that I agree with Crystal Cattle about Borlaug’s best quote:

“I think my favorite quote of his is “If I have anything to contribute to this world I’m going to play that card and play it hard.” For Norman this meant that he was going to use science, use GMO variations, use technology to ensure more people around the world had access to food and basic necessities.” -Crystal Cattle

I really enjoyed his quotes, but I’m not the biggest fan of remixes so I thought that part was a little cheesy. However, I think it’s definitely worth the watch.

What do you think, like or dislike?


Being an Advocate

“Transparency is the answer. Even that will be attacked.” – Ryan Goodman, Agriculture Proud.

No matter what you are advocating for, it never seems to be easy. I am new to blogging, and putting my thoughts out there for everyone to read are often difficult. Even if the topic is not controversial. After reading “Lessons I’ve Learned While Sticking My Neck Out” by Ryan Goodman, it hit me that putting yourself out there, being honest and advocating for agriculture can still be difficult for people I would consider veteran advocates.

Ryan Goodman is the author of the blog titled, “Agriculture Proud.” According to Goodman, “Agriculture Proud is all about sharing the great story of those involved in all aspects of Agriculture.” It’s about telling your story, being authentic and excited about your passion for agriculture, and having a candid point of view, he says. Goodman’s articles have been used by news channels including CNN’s Eatocracy, and he has been a keynote speaker at various events such as AgChat Foundation conferences.

In his latest blog post, he notes that people will be quick to place judgement, especially on social media, and will leave some not so loving comments.  There are also a lot of stories out there about agriculture, some positive and some negative. Yes, we might get kicked in the shin by someone, but if we don’t talk about our experiences in agiculture, then who will?

As a young communicator, writer and advocate I found it extremely inspiring that even though he has faced cruel people and angering stories, Ryan Goodman continues to be a voice for agriculture. I wanted to share these words with you from Goodman’s blog:

“But we have a responsibility to join the conversations and be present when people have questions. Otherwise we lose our voice in the conversations and essentially any representation when it comes time to make decisions that determine our ability to continue making a living in the world we live in… we have to remember there are lots of folks out there silently listening watching our (re)actions, and wanting to learn more about where their food comes from.”

I encourage you to check out Goodman’s blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube.