Post-Trip Reflection and Rock Ranch Mar 21, 2016 From the second I first learned about the Georgia Ag Tour over spring break, I wanted to go. I had no idea what I was signing up for, but I wanted to emerge myself in the diversity of Georgia agriculture. Being an out-of-state student and not coming from a farm background, I knew there was- and still is- a lot to learn and a lot of experiences I don’t have. It was a little weird being dropped off at the arena on Sunday afternoon and loading the bus for a week long tour around the state, but the adventure had started. Before I knew it, we were up in Blue Ridge, GA and it was so nice being in the mountains again. As we started at Mercier Orchards, I was quickly reminded why I love what I do so much. It’s the people. All of these people in agriculture are so passionate about what they do, taking care of the land and feeding the world. It all just makes me bubble up with joy as I embrace the wisdom around me, knowing I am right where I want to be. As we traveled to all of our stops, not knowing half of which even existed before beginning this experience, I felt at peace. I have always found that I feel most purposeful when I am surrounded by agriculture, the outdoors and animals, but it has been a hard year as I continue to find myself and try to figure out who I want to be and where I want to go. I have no idea where I am going to end up in the next few years- education, location, career and lifestyle-, but I know I want to be in agriculture; I desire to be part of all of this more than anything and to contribute to something so much larger than myself. This trip continued to give me that affirmation and to also realize that I don’t have to know all of the answers. There are so many incredible opportunities out there, and I am excited about figuring out my own journey. So many thoughts consumed my mind, wishing I had more time to spend at the farms, maybe for a full day or a summer or maybe even as a first job and wishing this trip was offered sooner in my college career because I probably would have added a double major in crop and soil science. But then I realized that all of these agriculturalists want young people like me to succeed and want to help us get where we’re going. It’s comforting. It is so much of why I love Ag. And it all makes me so thankful that I have been exposed to this incredible lifestyle and these genuine people, hoping that one day I can help connect people to this agricultural awe. As the week winded down, a little faster than expected, every moment, every stop, every laugh was cherished in both the new friendships and the shared bond of agriculture. I could not have asked for a better end than Rock Ranch. It combined the people side of agriculture to the animal agriculture and provided a near perfect agritourism experience. As we rode around in the wagon, I kept thinking how I would have to come back. The sunset, the cows, the conostogal wagons and bonfires…. everything seemed right with the world. As the night came to an end, we took a walk and found the moon, just before coming back to one of the best evenings of laughter around the bonfire with new- and old- friends. It is why agritourism plays such a fundamental part in the future of Ag and providing these experiences and memories for those who would otherwise be disconnected from their food supply. As I reflect on my week, I cannot be more thankful for the farmers who provide food, fiber and so much more; to the agriculturalists and supporters who want to ensure that agriculture is thriving and present now and in the future, and for CAES and all of the sponsors for allowing me to be part of this spring break experience. I am always proudest to be an AgDawg…not just a dawg.