Jersey Farm Girl Brings Perspective to Ag SummitFri, 23 May 2014 12:28:09 CDT
Life as a college student is a little different when you grow up on a farm on the east coast. Jennifer Weinberg is a freshman at George Washington University in our nation's capital.
Weinberg recently participated in the in the 13th Annual Stakeholder's Summit in Crystal City, Va., sponsored by the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Her farming roots are deep in being raised on her family's New Jersey farm.
"So from the day from the day I was born I grew up on farm that has been in my family for many generations, my great grand father owned it, his grand father before that, its actually that farm my father and his four siblings grew up on and its the farm I have grown up on," Weinberg said.
"In the beginning my passion for ag and my love for animals started when we just had animals for feedlot purposes," Weinberg said. "We have beef cattle, we just raise 'em, get em ready for harvest and sell 'em to our individual customers and I've really gotten a great experience to see like what the beef industry encompasses from feedlot to show quality animals."
"It definitely leads me to be have a lot of work to do in coming from a city school, choosing to go a city school, I knew was going to be challenge because there are a lot people that just, like you mentioned, really just don't really understand," Weinberg said. "The food industry, the livestock industry, what they are trying to do, what's important, what's practical and also what's economical, so for me its been a real challenge and its actually been a really rewarding challenge because the more I find I talk to people about the industry, what my experiences are, the more they kinda go oh alright that kinda makes sense."
"I think that's really what's important here going down the road I think we need to educate people about the industry really is, instead of what people try to make it seem to be, she said."
At the Shareholder's Summit, Weinberg was joined by three other college students a panel, entitled "College Cafeteria Confidential: Millennials in the Lunch Line. Weinberg shared her eating options at George Washington University.
"We have a lot of choices, like it was mentioned before in our panel, and the choices we get to make are pay a little extra for food that's labeled as organic or locally grown," Weinberg said. "I find that is really interesting because at a lot schools I visited, they really just don't have those options. This is the food provided, this is the food we have, so it's either eat it or don't ."
"For me in DC, it's really interesting and I am starting to be exposed to all these different labels and how these industries are framing the type of food that they are providing, which I find interesting, but also potentially misleading, Weinberg said."
In going to a college like George Washington with a agricultural background, having a wide variety of food choices is a conversation starter between Weinberg and her peers.
"Absolutely I think that the more and more I talk, the more and more I learn about the other side of the spectrum, but also get to enlighten people about my experiences, my perspectives and if we are going down the road, like what's important to focus on."
Weinberg has aspirations to go onto law school, with an emphasis on agricultural law.
"I think that even as time progresses there is a large market for it," Weinberg said. "I think these issues are not going to go away, they are going to keep growing in important and it's a lot more intense, which is something I fear for the livestock industry as a whole because I think the more society grows concerned over the wrong things like for instance where our food is coming from, it's not necessarily always a bad thing."
"I think there are some various organizations and there are policies out there that are trying to make our industry sound like something they're not, without really taking into practically and taking in the whole picture at a time, so I think that down the road I really hope to be involved directly with making sure our industries our protected they way they should be," Weinberg said.
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