From Beaches to Bovines: How Agriculture Saved My Future

I wasn’t in a good place after my first semester at UW-Madison. I was 1,451 miles from home, I wasn’t sleeping, I was frequently visiting counseling and Mental Health Services, and I didn’t enjoy school. I kept telling my parents I didn’t want to go back to Madison after winter break. The only thing I was interested in going back for was a meeting with my advisor to confirm my enrollment in the Life Sciences Communication program and moving to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It was my last shot. If I didn’t like it, I was positive I wouldn’t come back to Madison next year.

Life Sciences Communication and agriculture saved my future.

I found my calling in the LSC program. This is what I want to do with my life. I crave knowledge and experience, and I want to have the power to educate people on the scientific world around them, especially the agricultural industry. LSC is providing me the unique opportunity to do just this. Growing up in suburban South Florida, the only interaction I had with agriculture was the once a year visit to the South Florida Fair to see some livestock for five minutes and read a poster board about local produce. I never expected to fall in love with agriculture when I moved to Wisconsin, let alone want to    1930744_10205866091154675_7221384019544664510_nmake a career out of it.

I’m so excited to start working at the Center for Dairy Profitability this fall. I would have laughed if you told me in high school that I would be pursuing a career in the agricultural industry. I never dreamed I’d study agriculture, something underappreciated and taken advantage of by so many. I went to Bak Middle School of the Arts and Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts for middle and high school as a communications major, so I always envisioned myself as a journalist writing for a newspaper. I never anticipated I’d be writing about innovations in optimizing dairy production. I look forward to putting the communications skills I learned over the years at Bak and Dreyfoos to work, so I can help improve the Ag industry. I’m so lucky and happy I’ve found my passion here. Every assignment for LSC gives me a rush, no matter the class, because I know it is preparing me for a future I’m excitedly looking forward to. I don’t know where LSC will take me just yet, though I’m very interested in becoming involved in the developing space farming and agriculture aspect of the industry, but I can’t wait to keep following this path to find out.

In our meeting, my advisor also encouraged me to connect with CALS organizations to meet other people in the major. I took her advice, and I found a family in the Association of Women in Agriculture and forever sisters in Sigma Alpha. I couldn’t wait to get back to Madison after last summer to experience a whole year with the girls I came to love so easily and so quickly after five months. They’ve held my hand while I’ve cried, brought me flowers when I sprained my ankle, and celebrated milestones with me. My AWA and Sigma Alpha sisters are everything to me. I wouldn’t have found them without agriculture.

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From the love of my AWA and Sigma Alpha sisters, to Don Stanley helping me conquer my fear of social media, to the extraordinary interview opportunities I got in Ron Seely’s science writing class, I’ve found my place here. I’m so unbelievably happy, it’s hard to believe I was even at the same school last year. My LSC peers, the incredible staff, and professors have made UW-Madison my home. Whenever I think of LSC, I think of the Phillip Phillips song “Home”:

Don’t pay no mind to the demons

They fill you with fear

The trouble—it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone

‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

I’m not alone anymore. I’m not scared of being so far from home. I felt so lost those first few months here, with no one to turn to. Now, I have a support system in my LSC family to fall back on during my worst days.

I just smile at the confusion on people’s faces when I tell them I’m a Life Sciences Communication major. Because while it might be a jumble of words to them, it is everything to me. LSC is more than just a major. LSC is my life, my family, my home.  If I leave any legacy here at UW-Madison, I’m proud and honored it will be with the Life Sciences Communication program.

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Cheers,  Josie

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