Do you ever get butterflies in your stomach when you board an airplane and are preparing for take-off? As the pilot announces to fasten your seatbelt and the speed begins to increase. Then wham! It hits you as the plane leaves the ground and gravity isn’t quite ready to let you leave and the next thing you know you’re above the clouds. Well, that’s how it felt when we and a lot of other young farmers and ranchers loaded up and headed to Philadelphia for the recent Congressional Relations trip. 

Philadelphia in itself is full of history, and we were staying right in the middle of it. Seeing and touring Independence Hall was great. It’s crazy to see such an important part of history preserved – from its buildings to the documents. It was interesting to see the detail in the carpentry and think how time-consuming it must have been to carve the trim around the rooms or the railings for the stairs. It seems that in today's world, and with our technology, we have it so easy and we forget how lucky we have it. We get so caught up in the world that we don’t realize what our forefathers actually went through until we are there and walk the halls that they once walked. 

Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, and the Museum of the American Revolution were some of the other sites we visited during our stay in Philly. There is so much at each of these places that details the lives of those who fought and lived before us. We also had the opportunity to attend Christ Church and sit in the same pews that our continental congress and other government officials once sat in, not to mention George Washington. Amongst the church grounds was also the resting place of some of those leaders, including Benjamin Franklin. 

Christ Church

It seemed that no matter what road we went down there was something about it that brought us back in time. With Superbowl weekend taking place while we were there, featuring Philadelphia’s football team, you could tell how passionate everyone felt about the Eagles. On every street we walked on, someone was yelling “GO BIRDS!” It was also interesting to hear the stories from the locals of the city’s tradition to grease the city light poles to prevent people from climbing them and breaking the lights during Superbowl riots. Sadly though, the Eagles didn’t get their win and the “2022 champion” hats and shirts that were bought are now a running joke. 

Our stay in Philly then came to an end after two days and we were off to Washington, D.C. Before the start of our drive we visited the memorial for Rocky Balboa. Being farmers and ranchers, we may not be the most athletic, but I’m pretty sure we put Rocky to shame as we ran the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art! 

Following the Rocky monument, we made our way to an Amish farm where we met Jonas and his family. His family spent all morning preparing lunch and even saved corn from their harvest last year to share with us. We had the opportunity to tour their farm and learn so much about the Amish culture. We learned how the Amish shoe their horses and how they decide whether to use horses or mules on the farm. We also learned that the family farm is usually passed on to the youngest son, as he is the one who stays the longest. With the farm, his responsibility, if he decides to continue the tradition, is to take care of his parents as they live out the rest of their lives on the farm. 

Amish farm in Pennsylvania

Arriving in D.C. after a long bus ride, we took a night tour to see the majority of the memorials and monuments. I 100 percent recommend touring at night. It seems more peaceful as there are no crowds to fight, and you don’t feel like you have to hurry. One memorial that I was eager to see was the Korean War Memorial, as my grandpa was a veteran during that time. I feel like we learn about these wars in history class, and we learn of the casualties, but seeing their faces and names carved in stone makes it seem more real.

May be an image of outdoors and treeKorean War Veterans Memorial

The next morning was all about business as we prepared to meet with our state’s Senators, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee. You could tell how passionately many of us felt about our farms as we explained our concerns and the issues we are facing regarding water, labor, and land. Following the meetings, we had the opportunity to tour the Capitol, which started with an underground trolley ride. It was incredible to see the art and statues that were displayed in every room and the history behind them. The last day was spent at Arlington Cemetery – and it was a sight to see. It was so peaceful and humbling and the changing of the guard was something you would have to see in person to truly capture the moment. It was beautiful to see the structure of it all and the respect the audience had for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the guards stationed there. Following Arlington, the next two hours were spent touring the different Smithsonian’s, museums, and monuments before we prepared for the trip back home. 

Arlington National Cemetery

I was grateful to have had the opportunity to experience Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia together. They hold so much history that it was almost impossible to see it all in five days. I was extremely grateful to get to experience this trip with the Young Farmer & Rancher group (YF&R) and felt I had the opportunity to grow as a YF&R member and district chair. It’s almost emotional to see the passion we have as farmers for our farms and to be able to bring that to light with this trip. I love how we got to tell our stories to not only our state officials but to people who don’t know anything about agriculture or where their food comes from. The world is changing and we as farmers and ranchers have the chance to make it change in the right direction.

Torie Harding and her husband, Wyatt, live in Rush Valley in Tooele County. They serve on the State Young Farmer & Rancher Committee representing District 3, which includes Tooele, Salt Lake, and Davis Counties.