She’s Baaaaack!

Hi! Hello there. Long time no see– er, write. Here, allow me to tear down these cobwebs and vacuum up some of this dust. Eeesh. The way I see it, there’s no better time of year to give the ol’ blogeroo a nice spring cleaning than now. Right now, as a matter of fact. So in the words of Ricky Ricardo, I’ve got some ‘splaining to do.

A LOT has happened since I’ve typed words for you to read last. So much. But here are some major points you might like to know.

1. The ol’ ticker is about to roll over to a quarter of a century in a little less than two weeks. That’s monumental, right?

2. I’ve picked tap dancing back up. Yes, I was one of those cute little girls in adorably over-the-top costumes as a kid and I had a –gasp– dance mom. But when I explain to people that my mama was a dance mom of the 90s, people’s eye brows seem to lower back down to average height.

3. I have done a lot of growing in the past, oh, year and some change since I’ve been here last. Okay, not literally. I still measure up to a staggering 5′ 2″, but personally and professionally I’ve had some pretty cool opportunities presented to me. Experiences I’ve been humbled to take advantage of and grow from.

4. I love being uber creative. That’s not so new. But I have channeled my crafting abilities into an Etsy shop! It’s called Burlap Bovine. Check it out if you like shiny things, rusty stuff and turquoise, like I do! I created an Instagram account to focus on the things I make too~ @burlapbovine. In case you were wondering, that was a not-so-shameless plug.

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5.  Agriculture isn’t the only thing I advocate for these days. I’m on a new journey now called, “my boyfriend is training to become a police officer and I love him a lot and I want to support him but have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m trying.”🙂 Anyone else been through this already? I’d love to bend your ear! It’s tough. It’s awesome. It’s emotional. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s…scary. I’d like to eventually blog about that too, but it’s not time yet.

So, all in all, I’ve got some new plans for this space. I’ve been hesitant to write here lately, well for the past year and some change, to be exact, because I didn’t know WHAT to write about. I’m lucky that my life is, for the most part, pretty dang diverse. That has a better ring to it than busy…So I’ve got some mental organizing to do. But let’s face it, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 17 months, away from this space. So, like a muscle, I’m going to work my blogging strength back up to what it was circa 2011-2013, or do my very stinkin’ best! Kind of like cross-fit of this day and age, but with writing and not lifting very heavy things or jumping too high causing a sprained ankle.

Thank you for allowing me to come back after a very long hiatus. I hope you like what you see as we evolve in this space together. If not, I hope at least you get a good chuckle every once in a while.

Happy Spring cleaning!

See ya later alligators,

Mal the Beef Gal

 

 

 

New Goals for the New Year

Happy 2015! As with every new year, we all get a new start at the things we want to improve in our lives! How neat is that? It’s as if at midnight on December 31 we give ourselves permission to live again~ knowing it will last approximately 31 days and we’ll go back to the same ol’, same ol’.

This year I’m not having any of that. Sure, I wrote down some things that I want to focus on as we move into the new year, but they all revolve around one thing:  my health. I’m also calling my “new year’s resolutions” goals, with the intention to keep them around longer than a month, because I plan to bring these with me all the way into 2015 and beyond!

My main goal for 2015 is to get stronger. Plain and simple. Mentally and physically. I’m short, but that doesn’t mean I have to settle for being weak. And I won’t!

arm

In the 5th grade my PE teacher referred to my arms as ‘girlie muscles.’ This is my wimpy little arm at the beginning of its new journey!

My other goals include:

1.) Get stronger. I’m not a huge fan of running, but that shouldn’t stop me from working out. In fact, I’ve spent most of my workouts the past few days on the floor, concentrating on my core. I’m doing squats, lunges, planking, push-ups, and some funky moves I found in Self magazine! (If JLo can look like that, so can I, right?) I can already tell a difference from Monday evening when I attempted an exercise that starts you on all fours and you’re supposed to swivel and pivot on one foot and flip yourself over AND hold yourself up with your arm- only one of them. When I tried it Monday, I fell down, but tonight I did 10 of them! I’m measuring my success in small units, knowing I can only go up!

2.) Drink more milk. Although I’ve always been a fan of the dairy community, I’ve not been a huge fan of milk unless it had a little (or a lot) of chocolate in it. When I moved into my apartment last January, I would buy a half gallon of milk and throw what I couldn’t drink in my cereal before it expired out. I decided that was way too much milk for me and began buying quarts of milk. Even still, almost every week I would throw most of it away. I’m proud to say, this week I am on my second quart AND I drank the first one waaaaaay before its expiration date! I have to admit, I’m easing myself into it with chocolate syrup, but a friend suggested chocolate protein powder I might give a shot. Regardless, I’m loving milk now!

3.) Waste less food. Since I was involved with the HungerU program advocating for a change in the hunger crisis, I have been very conscious about food waste, but always fell short after trying. Take my reducing from a gallon to a quart of milk for example. I tried, but it wasn’t good enough. This week I am happy to report that I have nearly consumed everything I purchased at the grocery store on Sunday! Try it sometime. Plan a shopping list and stick to it. Treat it like a game of “eat the food before it rots or expires” and see if you can get through your entire batch of food from your shopping trip! It’s a super satisfying feeling when you do, and you know you are making a difference in the growing food crisis!

Of course I have more goals, but I’ve chosen these three to focus on for now. With baby steps, we can achieve our goals a little at a time!

What are your goals for 2015? How will you keep yourself accountable? Where are you gaining your inspiration? Grab a workout buddy or take a friend or roomie to go grocery shopping with you! Or check out Jenny’s perspective over at the Prairie Californian, where I gain daily inspiration to keep up with my goals!

Here’s to achieving more in 2015 and sticking with our new years plans over the next 12 months and beyond!

~Mal the Beef Gal

We #WageHope

Almost three years ago I received a phone call that brought me to my knees and changed my life as I knew it forever more. My dad was on the other end of the line. The man I grew up idolizing growing our green thumbs together in his garden and singing songs side-by-side in the tractor; my biggest fan.

His voice said, “The tumor they found on my pancreas is cancerous. I have been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”

A million pounds of bricks was dropped on my chest then, but one by one over the course of the past 2 and 3/4 years they have been gently lifted off of me, because we wage hope. Today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day, and I’m not excited to be an advocate for this cause. I’m simply not thrilled about it, because I wish I didn’t have to be one. I will advocate for agriculture every day until I’m blue in the face. Hunger has even joined an effort that has become important to me. But cancer? Cancer, even though it does not occupy my body, occupies my heart. Daily. And I wish it didn’t. But we try not to let it eat our spirits alive.

This is a tough post to write, because I can only share what pancreatic cancer means to me. My Dad’s story is not mine to tell. My mom and I and our family and friends have no true idea of what my Dad goes through every day as a living body of hope. But as far as I know, he is one of the luckiest, and we never take that for granted. When I learned about today, I visited the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website to see how I could help.

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There was a section of the website that felt like a punch to my gut. “QUICK FACTS about pancreatic cancer,” I read. I wanted to cry right then, because nothing about this battle has been ‘quick,’ and my communication mind told the website there certainly was no reason to shout this at me.

1. Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and is anticipated to become the second by 2020.

2. Only 6 percent of Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years.

3. An estimated 73 percent of Americans will die within the first year of diagnosis.

But that means about 27 percent will live.

Quickly, I went from having my feelings hurt to putting my pen to paper. After some simple math I realized that these three “quick facts” about pancreatic cancer told me that my Dad is among the top 27% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He’s actually closer to the 6%; with two more years of hope.

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The thing about pancreatic cancer is that when it hits, it hits hard and is most often only diagnosable once it reaches its fourth stage- the most severe. This is why most people diagnosed don’t make it past their first year battling this horrific disease. But my Dad is a miracle. My Dad is a fighter. My Dad is why we wage hope. We know that others didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate another birthday past diagnosis, and those hearts weigh heavy on ours all the time.

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Unfortunately, most people are touched in some way by cancer. When my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, we were thrown into a completely different community. A community that only lifts up and never puts down. As the daughter of a father living with cancer, I stand behind my Dad 110%. I know how his body is fighting pancreatic cancer is not normal. I also know that cancer just plain sucks.

Through his battle, my Dad has always remained positive. Even after his chemo treatments he continued to wage hope and remained good-spirited. He will celebrate his third birthday since he was diagnosed next week, a birthday we won’t take for granted.

Though cancer is ultimately a very confusing, exhausting, and absolutely demanding noun, we can all help put this ugly word to bed. For good. Today, I hope you will join me and wear #PurpleForAPurpose and #WageHope and just wander around the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website. Even if you just learn something new, it will help you gain a new perspective.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, but cancer lives on 365, 24/7. As I’ve always said, with anything the first step begins with awareness. What follows can only be revealed by your willingness to become aware and then act. Your actions are most important.

My parents and I thank those of you who have helped us waged hope against pancreatic cancer from the bottom of our hearts, and to those of you suffering from the wrath of pancreatic cancer, or any other kind of cancer, in your own bodies and families, our love goes out to you.

With hope,

Mal the Beef Gal

Millennial Malorie

This could either be a good sign or a very bad sign. When I plugged “millennials” into Google, the ‘things you might also be interested in also searching’ came up as “work,” “technology,” –ok, so far I’m tracking– “hipsters,” wait, what? and “cell phones.” Oh boy. Here we go. Is it just me, or is Google being stereotypical of me and my peeps? Even though I claim all of those things as a millennial but the third… so far.

millenialsLet’s start from the top:  Who are millennials anyway? The ag community has recently turned its focus to this large generation, my generation, because my university said I couldn’t stay – not in so many words, but the feeling was then-mutual so I could get out and explore – I am between 18 and 33, and I’m either figuring out how to navigate the “real world” or starting my own little family, in both cases, especially since I’m female, I’m making food choices for either myself and/or my loved ones. And the ag community wants to help me and my fellow millennials make good decisions. Kind of like a mother hen, which I appreciate. But I’m an exception to the rule.

I am a millennial helping millennials, in the case of serving as an American National CattleWomen volunteer, I’m helping moms, millennials, and more figure out what’s so great about beef and why they (we) should place their trust in beef each and every time they (we) peruse the aisles of the grocery store. Are you confused yet? Let’s break it down now, Molly. [Barbara-Jean reference on the show Reba. Anyone? Anyone?]

My point here is a few weeks ago I made a pledge to blog more. After all, I’ve been a bit hesitant to dip my toe back into the blogging world after the little ripple I caused in the big pond last year. But I’m not going to let that drown me. I’ve been “on my own” in the “real world” for a bit over a year, if you don’t count the three months I lived with my parents after graduation and the three months I spent on the road with HungerU, I’d consider myself a pretty stable career woman now, in the most unstable way. It’s kind of like learning to walk again, but this time there’s no box of Coca-Cola to push around the carpeted floor of a 100+ year old farm house. Forgive me, I’m a bit rambley tonight, and that’s not even a word- Lord help me!

Here’s my idea. Eventually when I come home from looking at a computer screen all day, I’d like to look at a computer screen some more and reconfigure this blog-a-roo. Or at least do a better job of dividing it into categories and calling one section “Millennial Malorie”. I have so many topics I want to touch on so that I can share with you my first year on the lose- getting in your first fender bender, renting your first apartment (not on college campus), cooking your own meals- again, starting your network from scratch- again, finding friends, managing long-distance long-term relationships, what to do if your car gets a recall notice, how to set up a new bank account, what in the heck is a 401K and which benefits package do I chose if I have the option, etc. See? Lots happened this past year, and I’m sure someone could benefit from my heads-up on the topics. Right?

What do you think? If you think back (or forward, depending how you look at it) and ask yourself what you wish you knew or want to know from someone who was in your shoes then and now, what would you ask?

At this point, I’m willing to be an open book. What chapters appeal to you most?

As always, thanks for following along. I appreciate you and your kind input!

~Mal the Beef Gal

Addressing a Drought

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Malorie, more widely recognized in the beef community as Mal the Beef Gal. I’ve been a stranger to you lately, and it’s time for me to address a drought.

Every day at work at the California Cattlemen’s Association, I learn about how ranchers are coping with the powerful drought in California that Mother Nature is holding over the heads of countless hardworking agriculturists across the state. This drought is serious. I most definitely acknowledge that and like the rest of you, pray for rain. However, lately, I’ve been struggling with a personal drought as well. A drought that Mother Nature doesn’t hold the key to– I do.

This drought for me has been a blogging drought. I have a new outlet for my writing that I contribute to in my roll at the California Cattlemen’s Association–the California Cattleman, the official publication of CCA. I hyperlinked the most recent issue of the book for you in case you’d like to peruse the pages! I’ve got about five pieces in the July/August issue ~ I hope you enjoy! As of late, I’ve been less inspired to come home to write after spending all day writing at the office, but that’s got to change.

Make it Happen

Here’s some inspiration. Thanks Pinterest! I’ve verbally and publicly (well privately public on my Facebook page) made a commitment to blog more.  And as I sit here with my favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance, playing in the background after attempting a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a long time from my friend Jenny over at the Prairie Californian, I was inspired to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

I figure this has to take some guilt off of my shoulders that has been catching a free ride on my mind for not fulfilling my goal of blogging more. But it’s not just for a personal reason I wrote this tonight. As usual, I hope to inspire you, my lovely readers, whom I appreciate VERY much.

Have you had a goal weighing on your mind lately that you just kept pushing to the back of the coat closet hoping it would disappear like the dust bunnies clinging to some household items you have no where else to put but the small space your apartment complex calls “storage”? Gee, that just kind of flowed out. I really don’t have anything against my cute little apartment, I promise!

Here’s to you friends. Quench the drought. Set a goal and achieve it! Try saying your goal out loud or sharing it with someone you trust to hold yourself accountable. I thank you for helping me stay accountable, and I hope to meet you back here soon.

Until then…make it happen friends! You can do it! Go team!

~Mal the Beef Gal

 

Lessons Learned: A Look Back

Today marks the day one year ago that Mal the Beef Gal went “viral”. I’m still not certain there’s a specific definition for the term viral, other than something that takes off at an exponential rate beyond anyone’s control, or desire. That, and the fact that companies are searching for the key to “going viral” daily. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the search is still on.

Almost 170,000 views later I’m proud to report:  I’m still me. After my blog post went viral I didn’t sprout wings, gain an extra life, or win a million dollars. I’m just a girl with an opinion that others felt passionately about as well. I happened to strike a nerve at the right place at the right time, unknowingly, and only a little bit on purpose. I am humbled by the amount of support I received (and continue to receive) for that post, and along the journey I learned many lessons. I’ve been thinking about this anniversary post for months now, and today something told me to check the calendar. So I did, and it was time. After much reflection on which angle to take, which stories to share, and how to commemorate such a monumental event in my life, I decided to compile a list of the lessons I learned throughout this experience. I hope that they help you with blogging or just life in general.

First thing’s first– I wrote the post, because I saw an opportunity to fill a gap, express my opinion, and hopefully educate others in the process. Contrary to popular belief, I was not paid to write it, nor did I gain anything from writing the post, except for a thicker skin and lots of love and new friendships. Here are some tips from my story.

Stick to your guns. At times I literally found myself asking “Who am I?” “Should I change my mind?” “Should I take the post down?” It was almost a constant struggle of back and forth in my mind, because of the responses the post was gathering. “Keep advocating for agriculture! We need more like you!”–keep it up. “You’re an idiot, and we’re all dumber for having read your words.” –take it down. “Malorie, will you help me start my own blog? You’ve inspired me.” — keep it up. “Mal, do yourself a favor, and jump off a bridge.” –take it down. Up, down, up, down; the cycle was viscous. But no matter how confusing it got, I stuck with my guns. I only added an intro to the original post explaining the situation, because I don’t post a blog unless I am 100% completely satisfied with it, and I couldn’t bring myself to undo what I had meant to write the way I wrote it.

There are rock stars in your circle. Those who are in your network will go to bat for you, no matter the situation. Even if it’s to kindly tell some guy who told you to jump off a bridge to back off. The outpouring of support and encouragement throughout the process of the “My Beef with Carrie Underwood” post, and its travels to all four corners of the world, was unbelievable. One day you’ll have the chance to return the favor to those who reached out to you when you needed them most. Do so with an eagerness to repay them for what they did for you. A simple “Keep up the good work” goes a long way in a hectic situation.

Some people are plain mean. Don’t let mean people get you down. Period. There’s a difference between someone teasing you, because they know you and a complete stranger putting you down in an irrational fit of anger. Sometimes you will strike a nerve, but chances are it’s for a good reason. Sometimes it just takes opening someone’s eyes to a situation to initiate a dialogue, other times it takes letting the interaction go, because in the end it’s not worth it to waste your time and energy. Simply put:  if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Stay positive even when it’s tough. I remember two days after the blog originally posted, I was invited to speak to the San Luis Obispo County California Women for Agriculture about my experience. I had originally planned to respond to every comment that the blog received, but instead, I found myself wallowing in the masses of words that readers had written in response to the blog–both encouraging and devastating. When I finally pulled myself away from the computer, ate my first meal in basically a day, and drove to Templeton, on my way there the sun came out from beneath a cloud. I cried. Sobbed, actually. The symbolism in that moment was so overwhelming that I couldn’t hold it back any longer. The whole process was fairly emotionally draining. I’m actually surprised my then-new-to-me boyfriend stuck it out with me like he did. He’s still around, so I guess it didn’t startle him too badly. I’m convinced it’s because I care and you care. But some folks didn’t, and chose to voice that opinion. Fair is fair, but at least be nice about it. Even when you think you can’t, keep your chin up, because someone will notice your job well done, and you will become stronger for it.

and the biggest lesson of all–

Keep on keeping on. It’s a year later and I’m still an advocate for agriculture. It’s deep in my roots, and it’s where I belong. There is nothing I love more than helping others find ways to share their stories, because your story is unique to you. If you have a story to tell, shout it from the roof tops. Who knows? Maybe it will accidentally go viral, and you’ll be a stronger person because of it!

Here’s to those of you who follow my blog and provide encouraging words as we go along. I can honestly say, I wouldn’t have gotten through April 22, 2013, and about the 72 hour period after that, without you.

Here’s to standing up for what you believe is right, finding the creativity to share your story, and above all, keeping your chin up along the way and you’ll never be led astray.

With much gratitude,

Mal the Beef Gal

A Blast From the Past…Coming Full Circle

Have you ever had one of those moments that gives your memory a kick start? I had the opportunity to experience that tonight at the Young Leader’s Social as part of the California FFA Sacramento Leadership Experience (SLE) conference.

Exactly 5 years ago (how in the heck has it been that long?) I was in my blue corduroy jacket as “Senator Bankhead” for the week at the capstone leadership conference of the California FFA in Sacramento. We learned about how policy is shaped in Sacramento for California agriculture and were deemed temporary senators for the week. We met new people, we made new friends, we visited with our state representatives, and we even got to debate on the senate floor. This was actually the one of the last times I stepped foot in the state capitol, except for visiting with legislators as a CA Young Cattlemen’s Committee member.

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Circa March 2009- “Senator Bankhead”

This evening I had the chance to attend this same event as a young professional in the beginning of my new career. I was reminded tonight that this was included on the list of my life-long goals back in high school.

Life Goal #xyz:  attend the SLE industry social as an industry professional.

Thanks to a recent lunch visit with my regional FFA advisor, Mr. Mooney, I was extended an offer to attend the Young Leader’s Social at SLE and had the chance to meet several top notch FFA members in California this evening. When I walked from the office I work in now in downtown Sacramento, through the capitol security and entered the hallways, it all came flooding back to me.

At SLE each “senator” is given a political standpoint and a bill that they research, form an argument on whether they are for or against it (which they are assigned), and eventually debate on the topics on the Senate floor. Though I don’t remember exactly, I do remember that my bill had something to do with pest control, and I remember some confusion surrounding my position on the bill. While I designed my debate around what I originally thought that I was assigned, carefully using the complicated system we were taught during the day, my conference facilitator came over to check in with me after I had completed my argument and told me he was sure I was actually supposed to take the opposite stance than I had constructed. Holding back tears while he checked for sure, I was devastated that I might have to go through the complicated process again. Thankfully, I was right all along and was able to keep my argument stance. I was also chosen as one of the few to actually debate in front of my peers on the Senate floor. I remember that I likened my bill to a house of cards simile. Without a strong base, the top card would never stand.

This evening I got to visit with several FFA members who are passionate about agriculture. They wore their blue jackets proudly. They wanted to know where I went to college. They wanted advice about higher education, career opportunities, the real world, and what it was like to be a college graduate. And on the flip side of the memories that came flooding back to me about my experience at the conference when I was a senior in high school, I was able to answer their questions, because now I was on the “other side” of the table.

We talked about what regions they were in and what chapters they were from, what their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects were, whether they were on their chapter’s livestock judging team, what colleges they had already been accepted to, what they wanted to study, when the black versus nude nylon issue would finally be resolved in California at state conference, and what the bills they were debating on this week were. And I loved it. I felt whole being able to provide them with information I didn’t know I would have now when I was in their shoes then.

The feeling was awesome!

Have you ever experienced something like this before? It was wild. As the event concluded and my heels clicked down the halls, I thought to myself, “You can come here whenever you want.” I work here now. In the capitol city of California. How. Awesome. Is. That?! I’m a Californian, and I’m proud of it. I’m also proud of the moments I was afforded in FFA and the moments I’m afforded now. In my new career at the California Cattlemen’s Association representing California cattle ranchers and their livelihoods.

Walking in the capital

I also pointed out to some of the new friends I made tonight that I wore my official FFA skirt to the event.🙂 #FFAProud

When was the last time you distinctly remember fulfilling a life goal you made a long time ago? Did it hit you with a flash when you fulfilled it? Mine did. Here’s to many more! When it’s all said and done, we control our futures. And they sure look bright!

#HungerCantWait

This West Coast girl finds herself in the South once again, this time in Columbus, GA, revisiting an experience of a lifetime in a different way.DSC_0284Last fall, I was a part of the HungerU Tour as one of three HungerU crew members charged with the task of inspiring forward action to help solve the world hunger crisis through education with the HungerU Tour exhibit. We traveled to 20 different college campuses and universities to visit with students on the East Coast about the difference we can all make in the world hunger crisis.

After the conclusion of the fall tour at the University of Florida, I made my way back to California, and soon after started my new adventure with the California Cattlemen’s Association as associate director of communications. But now I find myself back with the new HungerU crew for the weekend, helping inspire them to do great things during the spring HungerU Tour!

Today, I continue my communication training and am participating in my own activity:  write a blog. This morning we went over the importance of social media presence and how to effectively communicate with an audience across various channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Now, we are to the blog portion.

While I sit and listen to typing fingers around me, I decided to practice what I am preaching. Blogging can be challenging, but the best place to start is to simply begin. The format I have provided the HU Crew looks like this:

Introduction- introduce the theme of your blog

Background- include the Who, What, When, Where, and Why

Story Pieces- use the next few paragraphs to include the specific stories you want to include in this blog

Conclusion- summarize your theme and present an action statement.

While they practice this, I’ll explain my theme. You’ll notice that the title of this blog is a hashtag- #HungerCantWait. This is a new hashtag that the HungerU Tour will be using throughout their travels to link conversations and inspire that forward action.

After having been a part of the HungerU Tour, inspiring forward action is the ultimate call to action. Make a difference, because you can.

If you’re interested in following along with the new HungerU Crew- Mallory, Marshall, Tray, and Mollie- check them out online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the HungerU blog! Don’t forget to use the #HungerCantWait hashtag to share your efforts in being a part of the solution, too!

Have you thought about the action you will take to be a part of the solution to the world hunger crisis, because #HungerCantWait.

I Love Farmers, They Feed My Soul 2013 Agricultural Advocate of the Year Award

Wow! These past couple of months have been filled with a lot of firsts for me! I am so thankful to have recently joined the California Cattlemen’s Association staff as associate director of communications in December. This has led me to Sacramento, CA where my list of ‘firsts’ has infinitely increased in just a couple of short months!

Last week I traveled to San Luis Obispo to participate in the first ever FFA Link program panel. I joined a few of my fellow agriculture advocates in a panel discussion on agvocacy in front of Cal Poly students, local FFA chapters, and hundreds of other viewers of the internet broadcast! To view the panel discussion, click on the link above! I look forward to watching and helping this program grow!

When it is all said and done, I believe it is the greatest pleasure to serve as an agvocate for American agriculture, because it allows me to do what I love on a daily basis and help celebrate those who mean the most to me- American farmers and ranchers! There are a lot of us who have joined together in this front, and I am proud to be a member of the agricultural advocate community!

As for an additional first, yesterday, I was humbled and excited to receive the very first I Love Farmers They Feed My Soul Female Agricultural Advocate of the Year award, in honor of the late Mr. Gus Settrini, a cattle rancher from Salinas, CA, alongside the Male Agricultural Advocate of the Year, Ryan Goodman, who is the manager of communications for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, and three others who received honorable mentions.

This brand new program aims to recognize young advocates for agriculture who spend their time celebrating American farmers and ranchers through their advocacy efforts with goals to educate others about American agriculture. As it is the first year of the program, there was no formal awards ceremony, but rather a social media celebration in honor of the recipients of this year’s awards.

I am very thankful to be recognized by I Love Farmers, They Feed My Soul, but is important to note that as agvocates, we are a team! The thirst for the knowledge of agriculture that we possess is vast, and in order to quench it we must work together! I am honored to be a part of a great team of agricultural advocates, which grows every day just like the food that American farmers and ranchers raise for the world! Congratulations to Ryan, Jade, Taylor, and Sam and the countless other young people who advocate for agriculture every day!

ILF belt buckleRyan and I will each receive a belt buckle that looks like this in order to continue to spark the conversations about agriculture that are our main vehicle in agvocating. Nothing says “Ask ME about agriculture!” like a big, shiny belt buckle! Thanks ILF and the Settrini family! Your commitment to American agriculture, the people in it, and even those outside of it, is admirable and inspirational to us all!

Are you interested in helping this program grow? Visit the ILF website today!

Nipomo, Calif. Jan. 24, 2014‐ I Love Farmers…They Feed My Soul (ILF), a non-profit agricultural advocacy group, has selected Ryan Goodman of Montana and Malorie Bankhead of California as the 2013 Agricultural Advocates of the Year.

Those receiving HonorabILFle Mentions include Taylor Short of Missouri, Sam Wildman of Ohio and L. Jade Halliburton of Arkansas.

In an effort to recognize and reward young people who volunteer their time advocating for American family farmers and rancher ILF established the Agriculture Advocate of the Year Award in honor of the late Gus Settrini, a cattle rancher from Salinas, Calif. who enjoyed helping young people in agriculture. Winners were selected based on their advocacy efforts online in social media channels and at various public events in 2013. Goodman and Bankhead will receive custom silver buckles and a cash award.

Megan Silcott, ILF President said, “We are excited to identify and reward a strong group of young advocates for our inaugural Agricultural Advocate of the Year program. Each winner is an outstanding model for others to follow in advocating for agriculture.”

Goodman, 25, maintains an active blog called Agriculture Proud, has more than 13,000 followers on his Twitter and Facebook profiles and is a guest writer for the CNN Eatocracy food page. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and has a graduate degree from University of Tennessee. He is the manage of communications for the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Bankhead, 22, maintains a blog called Mal The Beef Gal and is active on Facebook and Twitter. She has traveled the country as a member of the National Beef Ambassador Team and with the HungerU educational campaign. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. She is the associate director of communications for the California Cattlemen’s Association.

Short, 22, is a student at Missouri State University. Wildman, 23, is a student at The Ohio State University. Halliburton, 20, is a student Southern Arkansas University. These students are active in social media and have conducted a variety of public agricultural advocacy events on their campus, community and states. Honorable mention winners receive an engraved glass trophy and a cash award.

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Where in the World is Mal the Beef Gal?

The good news is I know where I am. Well, that’s only true most of the time, but in reality I’m in a whirlwind of excitement on my fall adventure! Some of you may be following along on my HungerU journey, but it has been a while since I last shared any details with you over my blog, so the just over half-way point of our tour is a great place to pick up where I left off!

Wait, you’re not exactly sure what HungerU is? Let me explain! HungerU is a hunger awareness program that is a special project of Farmers Feeding the World which is an initiative of the Farm Journal Foundation. The program is on its third tour, covering the east coast this fall. I first learned about HungerU when the exhibit came to Cal Poly and I volunteered for the crew as an Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow club officer. After expressing my interest in becoming a part of the tour, I was hired on as a HungerU Crew member in August and began my new adventure September 15! Together, my two HungerU Crew teammates and I are visiting 20 college campuses and the National FFA Convention this fall from New York to Florida. We began at Cornell in Ithaca, NY (which is the last time I updated you…living on the road is a little hectic) and we are making our way down to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. What exactly are we? HungerU is a hunger awareness program that visits college campuses to engage with college students about the world hunger crisis and talk about how we can become part of the solution. We want to put an expiration date on hunger, and in order to do that, we know that we must first be aware of the situation.

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Students often ask, “What can I do?” Here, I explain to a student that whatever positive action step he takes will help, and I help him identify his action step based on his comfort level of involvement.

Here are the facts:  By 2050 we will have about 2 billion more mouths to feed. This begs the question-  How will we grow enough food to be able to feed that many people? We believe part of the answer will rely on advanced technology available to the farmers and ranchers in agricultural food production. It’s a tricky conversation to have with most college students, and sometimes, even more so their professors. But it’s one that must be had, because in order to make hunger a memory, we must first stop forgetting about it.

We have traveled from New York to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia, to Delaware, back to New York, to New Jersey, to Maryland, to Virginia, to North Carolina, to South Carolina, and now back up to North Carolina. That’s enough to make a girl dizzy! But it’s worth it. It’s all worth it.

I have been involved in communication my whole life, and now I’m considered a communication professional now that I have a college degree in agricultural communication. But there is nothing that can ever prepare you for what a stranger will approach you to say. Even more so when you are traveling all over heck and back asking and challenging people to engage and speak with you about a severe, depressing, humongous issue. Let me share one situation with you.

At a certain university, a student approached me and said, “I know how to solve the world hunger crisis. I’ve done research!” I inquired, “Okay, shoot.” He said, “Vegetarianism.”

I ran a few thoughts through my head for a quick second after hearing his solution. Easy, Mal the Beef Gal, I said to myself. Let’s play this one out a little differently.

“Tell me about that,” I said, giving me more time to see how I wanted to approach the conversation.

The student went on to tell me how he had won several speech contests with his speech on vegetarianism and how eating only a plant based diet would save the world from starvation.

Instead of pounding him with facts about beef cattle that I knew would refute every “fact” he had against the animal agriculture industry, and cattle in particular, I listened to what he had to say. He was passionate. He was articulate. He was just a little closed minded. So, I made it my mission of the conversation to pry open his mind about hunger and food production in general. First, I congratulated him on winning awards with his speech. I know what that takes, and it’s hard work. Our passions may be different, but passion is passion regardless. And his was meant for good, just like mine is. I looked at this situation from the 30,000 foot view. At least he has passion. At least he has the guts to take a stance on an issue. Yet, by the end of the conversation, together we had decided that it may take more than just a plant based diet to feed 2 billion more people in less that 40 years. I told him to keep his passion alive, and I thanked him for being brave. Because it’s going to take all kinds to solve the hunger issue. That student walked away from the HungerU exhibit feeling good about himself, which he had every right too, and eager to do more research about a diversified diet. But it was my hope that I continued to help inspire him to seek change. Vegetarian or not, in this situation, we’re on the same team:  being part of the solution to world hunger.

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Facts are forever changing as statistics do. We have it in our power to change those statistics to eliminate world hunger. We just have to start now. My Red Meat Mafia shirt helps me initiate conversations about agriculture when I am away from the HungerU exhibit. Have you got yours yet?

We know that you or I cannot simply wave a magic wand over the situation and make it all go away. Too many people are impacted by hunger for it to disappear over night. But if we all make a conscious effort to waste less food, buy only what we will consume at the grocery store, donate to more canned food drives, volunteer our time to food pantries, and actions like that, eventually we will start to make the ripple effect one that world hunger won’t be able to sustain.

My mission as a HungerU Crew member is to advocate inspiration through education. Inspiration to act, to use your heart for good, and to be the change you wish to see.

If you’d like to keep up with our journey for the next 4 weeks or so that are left of the tour, please check back with our HungerU Blog from the road, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

How will you make a difference in the global hunger crisis? Because, like it or not, it is demanding your attention.

As always, thank you for following along on the adventures!

~HungerU Crew Member, Mal the Beef Gal