From Tan Lines to Tractor Wheels

From Tan Lines to Tractor Wheels
Emma Nilsen and Utah Farm Bureau Federation staff

Being from Southern California, I spent my childhood going to the beach, and had not the slightest clue about anything regarding farming or ranching. With no ag background when I started as an intern at the Farm Bureau, I was a little, you could say, “shell shocked.” 

That quickly changed as I started to participate in events that taught me so much and helped me gain a better appreciation for agriculture. It all started with going to an elementary school and teaching the kids through Strawberry DNA kits about the connection of science to agriculture. I was so impressed with how Utah Farm Bureau is so dedicated to educating children on agriculture from a young age and I wished I had gotten to do that. 

My next big “field trip” was in Emery County, in Castle Dale specifically, where I got to see the ZEBRAS. It was definitely a highlight to be within feet of zebras, and not in a zoo setting. I loved talking with rancher Duane Gilbert and hearing about the dedication that he has to these amazing animals. Seeing him interact with them helped open my eyes to see how important these animals, and all animals, are to the people that take care of them. It made me sad to think that these farmers and ranchers are so worried about being portrayed as “abusing” these animals when they do care about them so much. 

While on that trip, I got to go up to Ferron and ride a horse for my first time. Utah Farm Bureau Regional Manager Brett Behling was happy to introduce me to the world of farming and ranching, and laughed when I was so excited about him even wearing a cowboy hat! It was a little daunting to ride an 1,100-pound animal but I learned quickly how amazing and submissive these animals are. During that trip, I also go to shoot a gun and ride a four-wheeler for the first time. This was another in a long line of “firsts” I experienced during my internship. 

Next came National Onion Ring Day, and my coworker and I took it upon ourselves to find the best onion rings in Utah. Over the course of three days we visited seven different restaurants to eat onion rings. We came to a consensus not only on which restaurant had the best onion rings, but also that no one should ever eat onion rings for three days straight.

Over the course of my internship I got to experience a dairy, a cherry orchard, a mink farm, a flour mill, an egg farm, a mushroom plant, an Agricultural Advisory board meeting with policymakers, a rodeo, and many other things. 

The greatest thing I learned from this internship was how important our farmers and ranchers are to our communities. I had never really thought about all the work that gets done before I buy my food at the grocery store. Now I have a much greater appreciation for the agricultural community and the struggles they go through to ensure that we have food on our tables.

I also learned that the people of the agricultural community are some of the kindest and most genuine people. I am beyond grateful I had this opportunity to work with the most amazing people and have my eyes opened to such an amazing industry and culture. Thank you for the many of you that took time out of your day to share a little of your world with this 'City Girl from the Beach.'



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