My mind has been stuck in ‘reflection mode’ since my mother passed away a few weeks ago. This mindset shifted the other day to the many folks in the agricultural industry I’ve interviewed over my short 37 years as a farm journalist.
Perhaps the most memorable and luckiest interview was with President Gerald Ford. I was a young farm radio whippersnapper seeking to score audio comments for a slide show (this really dates my age) honoring the retiring president of an agricultural association where I worked.
Thanks to a lot of political connections, President Ford got on the phone and the call was immediately followed by a few seconds of silence - the ultimate sin in radio. I struggled for words amid the nervousness and flying somersaults in the stomach.
President Ford was kind and forgiving to this 20-something farm broadcaster trying to earn his journalism stripes.
Another interview highlight was traveling to Honduras on the heels of the monster Hurricane Mitch in 2000 which destroyed the country’s farm crops near harvest which caused short-term food emergencies for many Hondurans.
Indiana farmers had generously donated money to help them so a missionary, a fellow employee, and myself flew to the capitol city of Tegucigalpa where we ventured out to bodegas (food warehouses) to purchase food staples to deliver to hungry folks in need.
As we shared the food bags, folks repeatedly thanked us in their native Spanish. At one home, a teenage girl’s parents had died in the hurricane and the teenager was now responsible to find food to feed her younger siblings. The shelves in the home (a cardboard shack) were bare.
Needless to say we shared the food sustenance…along with a river of tears none of us would ever forget.
Yet the favorite part of this journalist’s job to this day is interviewing farmers and other industry members about their efforts – whether sharing information while walking through a vineyard with the grower and manager, or riding aboard inside a cotton picker cab as the fiber is plucked from bolls.
Finding out what makes a farmer ‘tick’ and sharing their journey to success is what makes this job so exciting to this day and worth the long hours. Farm journalist is the second-best job out there, in my opinion, behind the role of farmer.