Sometimes following your passion means coming home, right where it all started. Lauren Schwab has traveled internationally, interned in Indiana, and recently graduated from college. But at the end of the day, those experiences pointed her right back to the home farm in southeast Ohio.
Lauren was raised on her family’s hog operation along with her older brother. As a girl, she enjoyed showing pigs. “When you’re younger, you don’t realize what a special opportunity it is to be able to go out and work with your family each day. I have a lot of great memories with my brother growing up learning about the animals. I guess that really taught us responsibility when we were younger.”
As a young adult, Lauren attended a nearby college and began to travel a lot. These new environments opened her eyes to experiences very different from her own. She met many people who’d never seen a pig. “Growing up, you take it for granted. You think it’s just like that Jason Aldean song, where he says ‘we just figured that’s how it was, and everybody else was just like us.’ You don’t realize how many people don’t know about agriculture.”
Seeing the disconnect between the people she was meeting and what was going on back on her family’s farm, began to inspire her. “I started blogging in 2013. I had internship with Wilt PR out of Springfield, Ohio. The stationed me in Indiana and I worked with Lindsay Sankey. She had her own blog called Jean’s Boots are Made for Talking, and it really inspired me. Besides farming, I love sharing stories, interviewing people, and that journalism aspect. I like talking about country music and this way of life. It’s my outlet besides working here and being in the barn. I love sharing the story of what we do, but also the personality of farmers cause we’re people too, just like everyone else.”
After starting her blog, Farm Girl with Curls, Lauren’s advocacy opportunities continued to blossom. She began hosting virtual field trips in coordination with Ohio Pork. They work together using video conferencing technology to show young students the inside of the farrowing house where she spends most of her days taking care of sows and piglets. “I always tell people the really cool thing about pigs is the sow will take on another piglet that isn’t their own. So if they’re all born the same day, I can even them up in numbers and size. So a lot of the kids ask, ‘What do you do with all the little runt pigs?’ Well, I put them all on one mother together. One that has a good udder and can produce good milk. That way, I can save the runts. I can keep an eye on them and give them the nutritional supplement that has some B vitamins and whey protein.”
At first, Lauren didn’t know if she wanted to farm as a full-time career, but this is what she has known and feels called to do. “I’m so proud of my dad for following his dream to farm and to be the first generation in our family to do so. Being able to have this as a job and learn from him evolved over time into, ‘Okay, now that I know how to do this, how I can take that and share with other people?’ When I learned that I really loved writing and public speaking through being in FFA, I felt called to do both of these things. I’m really fortunate that my dad’s calling was to farm, to take care of animals, and to provide food for people all around the world so I can be a part of that and fulfill my calling by sharing that story.”