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What is the best part of your job?

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 23 May 2014

From time to time, many of us are called to give back in some way to the industry that has given us so much. Sometimes, it is in giving back that we gain even more.

Recently, I was just one of more than 200 volunteers who devoted a day or two to educating roughly 1,000 youth about the career opportunities in agriculture.

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This massive event, Ag Career Days, was hosted by the John Pagel family at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy near Casco, Wisconsin. ( Click here to read more about it).

My task for the day was to talk to junior-high school students about my job as an editor for Progressive Dairyman. As dairy producers, many of you have probably done similar presentations. You are professionals at telling your story, equipped with talking points and key messages.

In fact, long before the days of formal media training, I recall my mother going into classrooms with a milking unit and a box of baby kittens to talk about her duties as not just a farm wife, but as a calloused-hand, farmer-tanned dairy producer herself. She never did, and still doesn’t, shy away from educating people about the important role she plays in producing food.

It was my turn to step up to the plate and tell my own story to these seventh and eighth graders. It was a simple request, but in reality, it was a role-reversal for me. As an editor and a writer, I am usually the one asking the questions. This time, the tables were turned.

Students raised their hands to ask about things like my college major and relevant high school courses, but it was perhaps the simplest question that caused me to think the hardest.

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“What is the best part of your job?” inquired a wide-eyed eighth grader.

I fumbled to answer the question. Not because I couldn’t come up with an answer, but rather because it was hard to pick just one. Certainly, I enjoy the challenge of word-smithing and proofreading, along with the satisfaction of holding a printed product in my hands I helped to create.

I am excited to be on the cutting edge of information that could revolutionize the dairy industry, and I take great pride in delivering that to our readers. Working for an agriculture-centered, forward-thinking company is certainly a plus, too.

As I mentally rambled through my response, I realized that the answer was not in my head. It was in my heart.

“The best part of my job,” I answered, “is telling the story of dairy farm families. It is a privilege to sit down across desks and kitchen tables from these hard-working people and an honor for them to trust me to put their lives into written words.”

In that moment, I realized how truly blessed I am. Not only am I in a career where I struggle to pick just one “best part,” but my work is meaningful and rewarding. It allows me to use my skills to share stories about ingenuity, achievements and overcoming adversity and to put a spotlight on the unsung heroes of American agriculture.

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It’s hard to say if my answer to this question inspired the next great agriculture journalist, but I hope it shined a light on the fact that my job as an editor is about much more than words on paper. And for me, that brief moment of reflection renewed my sense of purpose.

With the daily challenges dairy producers face, it can be easy to lose sight of the very things that brought you to this lifestyle in the first place. All the more reason to take a minute and ask yourself: ‘What is the best part of my job?’ PD

  • Peggy Coffeen

  • Midwest Editor
  • Progressive Dairyman
  • Email Coffeen

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