December 02, 2023

Millburg: Every moment is a teachable moment

Many people in agriculture may hear the word “teach” and think, “I’m no teacher,” and I’d have to agree with you. I’m not a teacher and I’ve never wanted to be one.

But something that I’ve come to realize over my 22 years in agriculture is that no matter who you are or what you do, every moment is an opportunity to be a teaching moment in agriculture.

Looking back throughout my life I’ve come to realize that I’ve always taken those small opportunities to teach someone something about agriculture — whether I realized that I was doing it or not.

When I was in elementary school, I always got excited when I was able to tell my friends anything that I knew about farming when they had questions about it, and even when they didn’t.

As I grew older, I eventually became the person that my ag friends and non-ag friends alike came to about anything agriculture-related and I always welcomed it happily.

The moment when I really discovered my joy of picking up the small teaching moments was when I entered high school and joined FFA.

My chapter put on an event every spring for the elementary school children called Ag Field Day. It was a day that my FFA dedicated solely to fun and engaging agriculture education for children.

We would have different stations that outlined an aspect of agriculture, like farm equipment safety, animal production, corn and soybean production, a tour of our greenhouse and so forth. I hosted a different station every year.

Every year, I had a perfectly prepared speech of what to say and yet my favorite part of Ag Field Day wasn’t when everything went according to my plan. No, it was when those kids would take me off my path and ask me questions.

Those small teaching moments are what made me the happiest because I knew I could send a young mind back home with newfound knowledge about agriculture.

I remember the exact moment when I realized I had a love for small teaching moments. It was my sophomore year and once again I was hosting a station during Ag Field Day. I was in charge of the corn pit, a large square made out of straw bales that was filled with corn.

I was watching over the group of kids playing in the corn when a girl came over and held something up to me. “What’s this?” she asked. I looked at it. “That’s part of a corn cob,” I said.

I picked up a few pieces of corn and explained to her the corn is attached to cobs until we take it off. “Wow, that’s cool!” she said before going back to playing.

That moment was probably just a passing one for her, but for me, it was the moment that made me realize I was excited to teach people about agriculture, not professionally, but just in normal, everyday life.

Now I always make sure to stay on the lookout for those teaching opportunities and I encourage every agriculturalist to do the same.

You don’t have to be a teacher to teach someone about agriculture. You just have to have a passion for what you do and the excitement to show other people why you have that passion.

Every lesson you can teach someone is an important one, no matter how big or small you think the significance is. No matter who you are, you can make any moment into a teaching moment.

Laura Millburg is a senior studying agriculture science at Western Illinois University and plans to work with livestock after graduation. This column was originally posted on the website.