This week’s post is written by Catherine Harward, a rising senior at North Carolina State University. As a Warren Leadership Fellow, Catherine spent this summer interning with North Carolina Farm Bureau learning about public policy and agricultural advocacy.
Three years ago, I never could have imagined where I would be today. If someone would have told me that I would be interning in agricultural policy for the largest agricultural organization in North Carolina, I would have shook my head in disbelief.
To give you some background, I grew up on a beef cow/calf operation in Stanly County raising purebred and commercial cattle with my father, mother, and four sisters. Even though my dad has all daughters, he never allowed any of us to think because we are girls we could not work on the farm. Since I was little, I enjoyed riding with my dad to feed cows, check fences, and vaccinate the herd, among other work. As I grew older, I became increasingly active in my family’s cattle operation in addition to our livestock marketing businesses. We market cattle across North Carolina and in adjoining states, keeping all members of our large family busy and involved in the family businesses. In my spare time, between school, sports, and the farm, I showed cattle at fairs and exhibitions, sparking my interest in youth agricultural organizations. I loved growing up in a farm family, and I appreciate the life lessons the farm taught me that have motivated me to work hard and to be successful.
I realized that even if you are not interested in politics, it still affects you, and it is crucial that we have farmers at the table helping to make decisions.
Over the past three years as a college student, I acknowledged my increasing passion for agricultural advocacy. Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program at NC State opened my eyes to the diverse avenues for advocacy and the power of networking. I met various professors who motivated me to look into my passions and purpose in agriculture. Each time, my passions circled back to cattle and advocacy. I never had a great interest in politics and tended to shy away from those discussions. However, reality hit me over time and I began to recognize how important it is to have people working in agricultural policy to keep farmers farming. I realized that even if you are not interested in politics, it still affects you, and it is crucial that we have farmers at the table helping to make decisions.