From a young age, Carrie Doyle gained exposure to agriculture from her family, which runs a beef operation and performs embryo transplants for breeders. They also raise horses.
"I worked cattle so that my dad would let me rodeo," says Doyle, a senior at Oklahoma State University who is majoring in animal science. Now, she and a group of like-minded students have formed a group called The FARM (Future of America Relies on Me) Theory that aims to empower people in agriculture and educate the public about the industry’s importance in their lives.
While the organization only began during the second week in January, its Facebook page has quickly grown to nearly 1,400 likes, and an inaugural event is planned during the last week in February. Organizers hope similar groups crop up at schools throughout the country in the future.
Four years of FFA membership opened Doyle’s eyes to the many sectors within agriculture, she says. She gave speeches, judged livestock and listened to presentations at conventions. In college, she began working for the OSU Extension and enrolled in an agriculture advocacy class first introduced at the campus three years ago.
"Through that class, I really began to notice that ag has needs of voice," Doyle says.
She wasn’t alone. Other students who have participated in the class expressed a common pride in being agriculturalists and a common desire to tell the nation about their industry and advocate for the future, Doyle says. Graduate student Megan Bryant worked to unite the students.
From Feb. 27-28, Doyle and 15 other students will grill out on the lawn of the OSU library. An adjoining tent will host a display showing what life would be like without animal agriculture. She says people don’t realize that common products such as makeup, shampoo and bicycles rely on ag.
The students hope to organize a formal club at OSU. In the meantime, schools on either coast—think Cal Poly and universities in New York—have offered their support, as have OSU faculty and people in the ag industry.
While farmers, ranchers and others in ag such as Doyle are good about honestly telling their stories when prompted, she says, it’s necessary to be increasingly proactive in the face of challenges from groups such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
"The biggest goal we have is to connect the dots between producers and consumers," says Doyle, who will pursue a master’s degree in ag education at West Texas A&M University this fall.
Click here to like The FARM Theory page on Facebook.