A Youthful Voice...The Advocate Youth Page Schyler Angell

By SCHYLER ANGELL
Associate Editor,
Advocate Youth Page

I have an entire drawer full of t-shirts. Some of them are from FFA activities and fairs, others are from cross country and track meets, and a few of them are of the clothing brands I like.

Out of all of them though, one of my favorite t-shirts is green with white letters that read “Ask me about my farm story.” This shirt is one of my favorites because my friend, Caroline Sicht, created it, and I love the purpose behind its message.

Caroline has lived her whole life on a beef cattle farm in Ashland, Mo. Her family raises and sells cattle for 4-H and FFA members to show, so they use AI and embryo transfer on their farm. The cattle that don’t turn out for the show ring are sold as freezer beef.

Although Caroline works off the farm now, she has always enjoyed helping her dad with their chores. Growing up, she enjoyed showing cattle and playing softball competitively. Caroline graduated from Rockbridge High School in 2011, and attended William Woods University on a softball scholarship. In 2015, she graduated with a communications degree. In 2017, Caroline received her masters in Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communication from the University of Missouri.

The experience of going to an urban high school and non-agricultural college made her aware of the disconnect between agriculture and consumers. Caroline developed a passion for educating people about agriculture and where their food comes from.

As a result, she was inspired to start her own business, The Farm Story. Caroline describes her business saying, “I tell the story of agriculture, and I teach others to do the same.”

Forming a community and educating consumers and producers are the goals Caroline keeps in mind while running her business. The Farm Story has several aspects including workshops and key-note speeches, podcast, t-shirt sales and an excellent social media presence.

Throughout school, Caroline planned on connecting with consumers about agriculture. Before starting her business, she wasn’t sure how she would do this, but she remained sure of one thing, she wanted to talk about agriculture. Now she is doing just that. Through her business, Caroline gives key-note speeches, workshops and even has her own podcast.

This past September, she was invited to be part of a virtual event for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Additionally, she has done presentations for the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the University of Missouri Extension and several local FFA chapters.

She is looking forward to doing more public speaking events in the upcoming year, but until then, she is going to continue speaking on her podcast.

Caroline created the Farm Story podcast in February 2020. Since beginning, she has filmed episodes using her own expertise, but has also had several guests join her. Social media has allowed Caroline to connect with people who have similar passions, some of whom have large followings.

The Farm Story has become an online community for those interested in sharing their agricultural story, and for those wanting to learn more about it.

Caroline decided to expand upon this community by creating a Facebook group of high school and college aged students who were interested in agriculture advocacy. This group is called YAGL, which stands for Young Agriculture Leaders. This group was created this past spring as schools were cancelled due to the coronavirus. I joined this group while I was in quarantine, and I really appreciated a new group of people to connect with, especially during that isolating time.

Caroline said, “I knew that there was this group of high school and college kids who were at home, passionate about agriculture and wanting to tell the story. I knew that getting them all in one group would be really beneficial.”

Caroline is a strong believer that this age demographic is really important to the industry, and is hoping to continue this group in 2021.

Many elements of The Farm Story are centered around the principles of community and conversation. Caroline’s Farm Story T-shirts are no exception to this. With the saying, “Ask me about my farm story” written on the back of these shirts, she created them with the intention of starting conversations about agriculture for those who were wearing them. She hoped people would see someone wearing the T-shirt and ask them about their farm story.

I can say firsthand that the purpose of these shirts have been fulfilled. I was asked about my farm story while wearing mine in line at the grocery store.

As soon as Caroline’s shirts started selling from her online website, she started coloring in a map of the 50 states to track where her shirts had traveled. On social media, her followers began following along with the idea and sharing the shirts with their friends around the country. As the year comes to an end, The Farm Story t-shirts can be found in 50 of the 50 states! Caroline’s t-shirt sales are an excellent example of what she hopes to accomplish with her business now, and in the future. Just as these shirts give people the tools and the confidence to start conversations about agriculture, Caroline does the same through her public speaking appearances, podcast and online community.

The Farm Story can be found on Instagram and Facebook at The Farm Story, or online at tellyourfarmstory.com