Jess selling at market

Why farm? Well, we farm so we can live. But why me, specifically? Let’s rewind and I’ll paint you a picture.

It’s 2012, and I’m standing on the rich soil of Texas A&M University’s student-run, on-campus farm, the Howdy Farm. An interest in wellness lead me here, where students were literally growing a pillar of good health — good food. Of course, I’m aware that debates on health have revolved around diet for years. You’d have to avoid TV, social media, and even grocery store aisle advertisements to have missed that. Even so, there was something very different about kneeling down to crumble the loose soil atop the raised rows, witnessing little seedlings find sun for the first time, and uncovering dozens of yellow squash nearly ready to harvest and share. 

In one word, the experience was this; Sacred

Panoramic of Texas A&M Howdy Farm before moving to its newer location on campus

Coming to know this sacredness awakened my passion for agriculture, and I’ve been involved in some facet of it since. I immediately changed my major to study a combination of agriculture, horticulture, and business. I studied abroad in Namibia, where we worked with the Cheetah Conservation Fund helping farmers to better protect livestock from predators, and with the Gobabeb Research & Training Centre to ensure their unique land became a world heritage site.

I graduated in 2014 and accepted an internship on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Five months later, I started working for U.S. Representative Will Hurd. I served as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent, and I covered agriculture and education legislative issues, as well as spearheaded an initiative to get more middle schools to teach computer science

When in D.C. I met with corn producers, cotton growers, cattle raisers, school nutritionists, farm bureaus, and hunger alleviation organizations, just to name a few. During my shorter trips to Texas I did things like tour cotton farms across our district and help Rep. Hurd (try to) herd sheep at a livestock fair. I was very quickly thrust into the world of agriculture policy, and over my two and a half years I never stopped learning about the legislative process, how the balance between the three branches of government directly affects us, and how working until 10pm during government-funding-season isn’t so bad with good pizza and good company.