The TALL Experience

 

tall_clr-300x159Our TALL program carried us into the heart of East Texas production, producers, and progress January 20 – 24, 2014.  Since this area is now my home, I was looking forward to learning more about the area.  But, I did not get to attend.  One thing this program stresses is service – service to our community and to our fellow man.  I was subpoenaed to testify as a character witness for one of the cowboys that works at the ranch – and testify I did.  I know we still live in the greatest country – but our legal system has (in my opinion) become somewhat broken.  Anyone can say anything and the innocent are left to spend excessive amounts of money to defend their innocence.  Seems a little backwards to me.  Anyway – I missed the session but our cowboy was found “not guilty” on all charges.  OK – I guess that proves the system works.

So I can’t speak to the actual events of the East Texas trip.  But I wanted to speak about the TALL program.  We are about to finish our two years and I just felt compelled to reflect. We have covered an enormous amount of “ground” – literally from all parts of Texas to the East coast to the West coast.  It has expanded my view of agriculture and the urgent need of advocacy on all levels relating to food production.  The educational piece is important no doubt – but this program stirs something much deeper in your heart – it revives your passion to truly be all that God intended for you to be – to lead by example – to take action – to guide, direct, teach, and motivate – to use your God-given gifts to serve others – to further develop character in yourself and those you cross paths with – to speak the truth.

Those of us that have lived a life in agriculture believe in God – family – friends and neighbors – hard work  – and giving to those that need a helping hand ( a hand up; not a hand out).  Life is about relationships.  With this program we have had the privilege of engaged conversations with State and National political figures – top of the field educators – company “brass” – environmentalists – other farmers and ranchers – and most of all our beloved AgriLife family.  We have been welcomed into homes – grand ballroom receptions – and into “behind the scenes” sanctuaries.  And with each and every encounter, we carried away a message – a new thought – a revived emotion – a heart to serve – a drive to speak out – renewed energy to act.

I have learned from every person I have had the privilege to speak with.  Not only the people we met along the way – but from my fellow classmates.  The TALL XIII class is filled with the most amazing people – farmers – ranchers – dairy man – real estate brokers – producer board advocates – public relations communicators – financiers and bankers – ag related directors and sales representatives – a manager of Texas  Cattle Feeders – environmentalists and horticulturists – leaders in our Farm Service and Credit agencies – leaders in farmers cooperatives – and yes, one beloved attorney.  They are leaders that will make a difference – they already have and they will continue to forever change the face and voice of agriculture.  Most of all – they have heart!!  We have become a family.  I miss them when we are not in session.  When our class graduates, we may go back to our lives – but I will forever be touched by the laughter, the camaraderie, things learned, time shared with my fellow classmates.

TALL is an amazing program.  Texas is so blessed for its program to be led by Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz.  This man is the true role model of leadership in action – a man of character and integrity – the epitome of a servant’s heart.  His accomplishments are many – nationally and internationally – but he will not be the one to tell you about them. Every day he unknowingly changes so many lives for the better.

So I may not be able to speak directly to the events of the East Texas trip.  But I can and will speak out for TALL.  It is the most amazing educational – life changing experience of a lifetime.  Great agricultural leaders and advocates will come from this program.  I would urge all who are interested in the continued growth of agriculture to apply for the program.  We are not a people to grumble and gripe about “what’s going on today”.  We are a people of action – agriculture is a life sustaining force and we need to be able to articulate the truth of our work and have the initiative to speak out to educate others of that truth.  If our practices are not ethical or sustainable, we are the ones who must have the courage to implement change for the better.  This program has shown us that there are many components to the ag story – that ours is a complicated story.  But ours is a story worth protecting – a story worth telling.  I have been proud to be part of TALL XIII.  It has brought me greater understanding – and the people have made me stronger – stronger and better prepared to speak out and lead.

My thanks to Dr. Jim, my classmates, and all at AgriLife for an amazing experience.  Believe me – I don’t plan to ride off quietly into the sunset.   I will always passionately be an advocate for agriculture – for the ranching industry that I dearly love – wherever that trail leads me.

By | 2017-04-25T23:03:21+00:00 February 5th, 2014|Beef Advocacy - Telling Our Story, Need To Know|0 Comments

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