Taking opportunities, finding family
I’ve always been close with my family. For most of my life in our small Maryland town, Dad painted cars and Mom stayed at home with me and my two younger sisters. We were the kids who had family dinner at the kitchen table every night, brought our parents as chaperones to school field trips, and wore matching pajamas on Christmas Eve.
Don’t get me wrong; we’re far from perfect. Screaming matches were more common than not when all three Dinterman girls made it to the barn at the same time. I distinctly remember more than one time when I was sent to my room for being a little too mouthy. We’ve always joked we would make the perfect candidates for a TLC reality show – one big hot mess tied together with a whole lot of love.
When our sibling fights became too heated, my parents used to sit the three of us down and tell us we needed to find a way to get along. “At the end of the day, all you’ve got is each other,” they reminded us. We would roll our eyes and stomp off to our rooms, too young to understand how right they were.
A World of Possibilities
When I announced I was going to Oklahoma State University, everyone seemed to have one piece of advice for my parents: “When they go west, they never come back.” I thought this assessment was the most outlandish thing I had ever heard. What could possibly make me leave everything I’ve ever known, including my family, for good?
I quickly learned that stepping out of your comfort zone broadens your world view. During college, I did internships in other states, traveled for conferences, and even spent 2.5 weeks in Thailand for a study abroad program. By the time graduation rolled around, I wasn’t thinking that I needed to find a job close to home. Instead, I literally had a world of possibilities open up for me.
One of the first things people tell college freshmen is to network, network, network. It was daunting to me, but a trip to Ag Media Summit, which is a conference geared toward ag professionals, showed me that networking doesn’t have to feel like a business transaction. For me, making new friends who also work in my industry and can help solve problems is a better way to look at it. As you see the same people over and over again, it starts to feel like its own little industry family.
I think this is why I was so excited to attend Commodity Classic in New Orleans earlier this month. Just over two months into my role as assistant agronomy editor, I was ready to put faces to the names I had been emailing and shake the hands of those I’d met over Zoom. (I also got to ride in the company plane. Can you blame me if I say that was one of the cooler perks?)
When I walked into the convention center early Thursday morning, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to a conference this large, and the trade show was overwhelming. I spent most of my time following my supervisor, Gil Gullickson, watching him interview a wide variety of agronomy contacts. I’m new to the agronomy side of agriculture, so while it sometimes felt like they were speaking a foreign language, listening to experts was an eye-opening and informative experience.
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I also had the chance to attend a couple social events, like the mixer hosted by the Ag Communicators Network, the National Agri-Marketing Association, and the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. I took the time to chat with lots of new people and was shocked at how many familiar faces were in the crowd.
Beyond the interviews and mingling, the best part of the trip was getting to know my new coworkers better. We ate beignets in the French Quarter, had dinner on Bourbon Street, and chatted between Main Stage sessions. Traveling with other people is one of the best ways to get to know someone. I got to learn about my coworkers and their families. I did some sharing of my own and even shocked an editor or two with stories from my 21st birthday.
By the time our flight home landed in Des Moines a few days later, I really felt like I was a member of the SF family. During the SF Happy Hour at Commodity Classic, it was clear this family mentality not only extends to every person on the SF team but to our readers and advertisers as well. As the new person, everyone was so welcoming and eager to share advice. I realized I had found a new family that stretches beyond the walls of our Des Moines office. I came home feeling more excited about the months to come as I settle into my new role at SF.
Are you a member of this type of extended family? Do you have tips for understanding how and why herbicides work (or don’t work)? Just want to chat? I’d love to hear from you! Connect with me through email at Chelsea.Dinterman@meredith.com, or reach out on twitter @CDintermanSF.