"When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence."

Well well well, look what we have here...a scholarship fund named after our one and only girl, Bessie. I have been working on this post for some time now, typing and deleting and retyping trying to get the words just right. The truth is, I am not sure that there are words that sum up just what this opportunity means to me. Please, bear with me...
When I think back to my high school experience, and even middle school (which seems like forever ago) I can truthfully say that I was too cool for school. It came easy to me, I took all of the honors courses, and I participated in sports each season. I was the President of National Honor's Society, an active member in Key Club, & quite frankly...did awesome. Not to toot my own horn, but in all truthfulness, I was the kind of student that I hope my children grow up to be. I lived for making my parents proud.
What I didn't do, one thing that could have really helped me, was participate in things like 4-H and FFA. Not because they were not offered to me, but because I had no interest in participating. In my head, I had this preconceived notion and stigma about being in them and man, was I wrong. 
I was asked multiple times to join by the teacher & leaders. I was recruited by all of those navy blue jackets on orientation day. I was encouraged by my parents. But still, my answer was a hard "no." I wish that I could say that there was a good reason for it. I wish I could say something that wouldn't be offensive. I wish that I could say all of the right things, but truthfully, I have nothing.
I had no reason not to participate in these things other than 14 year old stuck up pride. & that right there, is the truth. Looking back it seems so silly, but there was just something about it that I couldn't get down with. My friends didn't participate in it either, so why would I? Why on earth would I want to be different? Obviously you can see that I am far from the paranoid of what others would think, girl, that I once was. 
Fast forward a few years and there I was, a freshman in college, majoring in Agribusiness at West Virginia University's Davis College of Agriculture ( I changed my major to Environmental & Natural Resources as soon as the program became available). I had a considerably large academic scholarship, a passion for sustainability & the determination to finish as early as possible with as little debt as I could swallow.
I'll never forget sitting in that first ag science class amongst my peers, all who when introducing themselves mentioned that they were avid FFA members, officers, and leaders. This is when I was introduced to the idea that I may have messed up. That if I hadn't have had so much dang pride, that I could have said that during my introduction speech as well. That I could have had it on my personal resume. Because these kids, they were proud.  
I quickly realized that I knew a whole lot about no-till farming, & other than that...a little about a lot. I read the books, I watched the videos and I started saying 'yes' to every opportunity that was offered to me. When it came to things like dairy judging, animal science, poultry judging & the day to day operations at the university farm...I was behind but I wanted nothing more than to learn. These other students had been exposed to so much more because of the activities that they chose to participate in during their younger years and for that, I was so jealous. 
Now, maybe their parents forced them. That is totally a possibility and I don't knock them for it. My kids WILL be participating in clubs like 4-H whether they want to or not. But here is the reality, my parents didn't force me. They didn't make me do something that I didn't want to do because I was already involved in so much & I am in complete understanding of that truth. You can only go go go so much. But here is something that I whole heartedly admit, I missed out because of no one else but me. 
I had two blue-collar, work their asses off fathers & two educators as mothers to influence me. I knew all about working for what you wanted and doing whatever it took to get there. They taught me so much about life and what it meant to earn an honest dollar. They taught me what I meant to get up every day and go to work to provide a better life for your family. They taught me to be a strong independent woman that didn't need to rely on others to be successful. Because of those things, I am where I am today and this is my thank you to them.
I could have benefitted from 4-H and FFA in more ways than I can count and so could so many others. But it's not for every one that wants a future in agriculture and there is something that I have realized and accepted...IT IS OKAY.  It is okay to be proud of the green clover and navy jacket. It is okay to put your time into other things. Because with both experiences, there is so much to learn. I may not have have the blue ribbons or grand champion buckle, but I have sponsor ribbons & donations to be just as proud of. 
This is why I have chosen to start The Bessie Scholarship Fund. I want to encourage our youth to participate in these programs but I also want to teach them that they are not everything. They are not your make or break in the industry, they are not your ticket to a full ride scholarship, they are not your chance at owning a farm, running a business or working for a company like John Deere. YOU ARE. You are what stands between you and your dreams and it is never too late. I can truthfully say that my life is everything that I never expected & everything that I could have dreamed of all in one.
SO, now I am done rambling on about all of the reasons, or lack there of, why I have chosen to do this, which honestly after reading this 500 times, I'm not even sure that they make sense to anyone but me...The Bessie Scholarship Fund. I hope that we can continue to encourage our youth to dream big and provide assistance for all of the stepping stones in-between those dreams & reality. I hope that we can promote strategic decision making, educate & encourage sustainable agriculture practices. I hope that we can continue to support our local youth agricultural programs & inspire others that it is never too late to join. I hope that Bessie can leave the legacy that she so deserves.
"When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence."
***Requirements, rules & applications will follow.***
***This program is not intended for those solely looking to pursue their education with a 4 year degree. It is for trade schools, four year colleges, seminars & truthfully whatever your little heart desires to further yourself within the industry.***


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