To mark International Youth Day, we’ve asked our summer plant biotechnology intern Abby Schmidt to write a blog post sharing her insights and experiences as a young person in agriculture. Abby currently attends the University of Missouri School of Law and will graduate with a JD 2024.
I grew up in a small Missouri town near a major metro area. I had the benefit of living the “small-town, rural” lifestyle AND having easy access to “big city” life. This allowed me a dual perspective on how agriculture is viewed in everyday life. From farmer to consumer, to everyone in between, I had the opportunity to see how everyone views agriculture and its effects on our planet.
Before law school, I studied Plant Sciences and Agribusiness Management at the University of Missouri. My childhood experiences on a Midwestern farm made me appreciate the beauty of rural life, but they also instilled in me a deep curiosity to explore beyond the familiar. I could not wait to venture out into the world and gain a broader understanding of agriculture’s diverse practices and perspectives. Having experienced both rural and urban life in Missouri, I became curious about how these perspectives differed or remained consistent in other regions. I wanted to explore and gain insights into these cultural variations.
Growing up, I had never been on an airplane, and the first mission I had when I got to college was to get my passport and travel. Thus, my journey began with a study abroad program in Thailand, where I immersed myself in the fascinating world of ecology and coral reef restoration. The country’s diverse landscapes, ranging from lush rainforests to stunning beaches, left me in awe. I explored various ecosystems and witnessed firsthand the importance of preserving our natural resources. Engaging with local experts further deepened my understanding of sustainable agricultural practices and the delicate balance between human activity and environmental conservation.
After my inspiring time in Thailand, I embarked on a trip to South Africa. I participated in a study abroad program with the Refugee Appeals Board that exposed me to the complexities of refugee rights and the challenges they face. This experience reinforced my belief that agricultural policies must be inclusive and supportive, especially for vulnerable communities affected by displacement and conflict.
Next was the first international trip I planned by myself: Morocco. I scheduled this trip on a whim and bought tickets a mere week before I left to fly across the world to a country with a culture vastly different from my own. This was my first experience being truly in control of my travels and it was such a liberating experience to be in another country and having to figure out my own way. As I traveled through bustling markets, vibrant cities, and rural villages, I gained invaluable insights into the vital role agriculture plays in Moroccan society. Their age-old farming techniques, honed over generations, were not only a testament to their resilience but also showcased the significance of traditional knowledge in modern agricultural practices.
Looking forward to the future, I am excited about my upcoming farm immersion program in Zambia. My roots in agriculture and studies in plant science and agricultural economics have instilled in me a profound appreciation for sustainable farming practices. I am eager to learn from Zambian farmers, exchange knowledge, and understand the unique challenges they encounter. As I prepare for this next adventure, I am fueled by the belief that agriculture is not just about cultivating crops; it is about fostering sustainable practices, preserving our environment, and promoting knowledge.
Combining my expertise in law and agriculture, I am determined to utilize these skill sets upon graduation to pursue a career in the legal aspects of the agriculture industry. My goal is to work with companies involved in producing agricultural inputs or working directly with farmers to contribute to the growth of the food production sector. Agriculture has always been my true passion, and I am excited to pursue a fulfilling career path in the agricultural domain.