I was on a flight back from Denver Tuesday and had an interesting observation. This was a very small plane heading to Dodge City. Eight seats total. So hearing conversations before the flight got started was nearly unavoidable.
There were four younger girls. I'd guess any where from early to late 20s. It's hard to tell. Two were traveling together, and the other two were alone, but sitting across the aisle from each other. Their conversation started as to where they were heading and how great it was to have this option for flights.
The two traveling together were Dodge City natives. One of the singles was what I assume a college student, was heading to a job interview at one of the beef packing plants in Dodge City. The third worked for a shipping company and had been transferred here from Florida in December of last year.
Their conversation shifted to the "smell" of Dodge City. Surprisingly the two traveling together knew what the smell was and how it impacted the town. I'd almost guess their parents worked at the plants at one point in their lives. The one made the remark, "My mom said it's the smell of money." I wonder if they saw my facial expression because I was nearly smirking. I say that all the time!
The girl who was new to Dodge City was having none of it. She did not like the smell at all. Which is understandable. All I could see was the back of her head, but she was shaking it back and forth and probably not listening. Then the conversation shifted to the smell from the packing plants. Again, she wasn't liking it. The one girl of the pair said the worst day for smell was Thursdays when they "burned the stuff." I knew exactly what she was talking about. National Beef burns the blood on certain days and it’s a pretty distinct smell.
The college student made the remark about how she'd interned at one of the plants and knew what it was all about. She said she's involved in agriculture, and it's just all part of it. Again, I wonder if they could see me smile.
Now, I'd just spent two days with ag media professionals and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association/Cattlemen's Beef Board staff at a workshop, so I was a little biased on the conversation. Probably a little biased in general to be honest. I was raised on a small western Kansas farm and appreciate nearly all aspects of agriculture. I've also worked at a agricultural publication for 15 years. To say I'm all ag is the understatement of the century.
I appreciate when people seemingly so far removed from agriculture know what it is and know what kind of an effect it has on the communities they live and work. Hopefully these young people realize that without agriculture their families wouldn't have jobs. They likely wouldn't live in this community. Agriculture is a major part of Dodge City. From the farmers and ranchers who have land and cattle in the surrounding counties, to the sale barns, to the grain cooperatives and feed mills, to the farm equipment dealers and manufacturers, to the grocery stores and auto dealerships—it all relies on agriculture in some way shape or form.
Although I didn't participate in the conversation on the airplane, if one of them wouldn't have had anything positive to say about agriculture and the community, I would have had to interject. There's so many things tied to agriculture here, and so many good things.
I have a t-shirt that on the front asks, "Where would you be without agriculture?" On the back it says, "Hungry and naked." I get so many looks when I wear that shirt, but silently it makes a statement. I'm happy to say at least 3 people on that airplane, who aren't involved in agriculture, have a decent understanding of what it does for their communities. To me, that's better than nothing.