Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"It's a Family Tradition" by State Parliamentarian, Matthew Phillips

December Blog

     “Why?”—A child’s favorite question. I would imagine most children grow up asking their family why they decided to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any other typical profession. The younger generation is always curious as to why their family decided to take a certain path and whether they’ll choose to take the same path. Some kids may grow up to become the same thing as their parents but most don’t. You see, most families decided to ‘change their direction’ due to numerous factors. Growing up, I have been extremely blessed to have a family who did not abandon the original American occupation. My family owns and operates a 2,500-acre generational sugarcane farm in Franklin, LA. Because of this, I was able to witness firsthand the highs and lows of agriculture from an early age.
Imagine an eight-year-old boy whose interest did not veer far from the farm. Many of my childhood toys always related back to the farm whether it was tractors, combines, or semi-trucks. On weekends and holidays, I did not want to go to the mountains, beach, or even Disney World but rather the sugarcane farm. I would constantly bug my grandfather and uncles all hours of the day to let me ride the tractors on the farm. Early on, I can recall waking up at 5:30 in the morning to be the co-pilot to my Uncle Donnie while he operated the combine during the harvest season. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I always have a ton of questions…just imagine me as a child. While I am sure I had many questions that frigid December morning, it was never a question that I wanted to help in ‘carrying on this family tradition’. 
These encounters and interactions with my uncles continued on weekends and holidays until I was in the eighth grade when I was able to work my first true day. After working that day, it became surprisingly evident that the joys of riding on the tractor and other equipment did not quite define farming. In that moment, I had to ‘stop and think it over’. I realized that there are hardships and struggles that famers face every day in order to create a product that is satisfactory to consumers across the globe. Farmers know to always expect the unexpected and be prepared for when those unexpected incidents arise. Working long hours on my family’s sugarcane farm has taught me resiliency and given me an appreciation for the people whose toil affects the lives of so many as they are simply ‘living out the song they wrote’. Although I too have ‘changed my direction’ to educate the next generation of agriculturists by becoming an agricultural educator, I will be forever grateful for the knowledge and values gained from Bayou Sale Cane and intend to one day ‘carry on an old family tradition’.