I am far from knowing or understanding everything that goes on concerning Indiana agriculture. I’ve always been interested in ag. I was in 4-H and showed animals, and I even studied it in college.

I worked several ag internships and now write about agriculture every day. But what I know now about farming is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since I started this job, many farmers have helped me understand the science, agronomics and economics of the ag industry. Four years of reading books in college and a lifetime of trying to grasp the scale of the industry, and nothing has taught me more than just a simple walk in a field with a farmer who has been farming his whole life.

The other day I was exploring a soybean field in northern Indiana, talking with a farmer. I asked many questions, like “Why are some of the pods empty?” and “Which beans work best in Indiana?”

No matter how elementary my questions were, he answered genuinely. He was excited to teach me about what he does every day. He showed me how the plants operated from the roots to the leaves.

I walked away knowing much more about soybeans and corn. I felt a deeper connection to the seeds, crops and business of farming.

Just being outside and talking with a farmer for an afternoon taught me so much about what the agriculture industry is all about: growth, overcoming challenges and faith, not to mention science, learning from the past and looking toward the future.

I always will respect farming and consider it one of the noblest of professions.

Last summer, I visited Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful home, Monticello. I learned and agreed with his views on agriculture.

This quote of his stuck with me: “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”

To anyone that wants to have a deeper understanding of farming, I say the best thing to do is go outside and walk with a farmer or approach a farmer at a market or event and ask them what their story is.

Chances are you’ll learn a lot about farming you didn’t know, even if you have had close ties to agriculture your whole life.