The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Nicole

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.


I definitely had a different blog post planned for today, but when Nicole sent me her profile back, I knew I needed to get it posted as quickly as possible. It definitely made me laugh, and even made me tear up a little. This gal has such a GREAT story to share, and I hope after you read it you will understand why I basically want to be her when I grow up. Nicole and I often joke that we practically have the same life story, and while we do have quite a few similarities, it would not be fair to leave it at that. Nicole is talented beyond her age and experience, is a social media guru, puts 110% into everything she does and is often my go-to when I need a creative boost. What I love about Nicole is she really GETS people and the VALUE of relationships. She has a great laugh and I can always count on my conversations with her to be real and fulfilling, whether we are talking about communications strategy or our mutual infatuation and homesick longing for Tillamook Cheese. 

This is a good read folks, through and through.


Name: Nicole Lane Erceg
Age: 24
Hometown: John Day, Oregon
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agricultural Communications & Journalism
Current Location: Wooster, Ohio
Current Job: Producer Communications Specialist

Background Story:

I was raised in the Strawberry Mountains of Eastern Oregon where I fell in love with rural life, agriculture and the stories of the people who produce our food. Growing up 2.5 hour drive from the nearest Walmart wasn’t easy, but it did build character. My desire to share the stories of agriculture led me to Kansas State University where I earned my degree in agricultural communications and journalism with a focus in animal science. Why would a girl who loves mountains move to a state rumored to be flatter than a pancake? It turns out, I’ll go just about anywhere with the promise of a great story, adventure and learning more about ag.

When I left my tiny hometown in Oregon bound for Kansas, I was riding shotgun in a little red car next to a boy I’d convinced to come with me. When he agreed to switch colleges and come along for the ride he made me promise he could pick next. His choice? North Carolina. We’ve lived in Raleigh for the past couple of years while he finished a Masters in Swine Nutrition and coached the livestock judging team. Meanwhile I worked from home as the Social Media Director for a livestock marketing and advertising agency.

We planned to stay in Raleigh for the next few years while he finished a Ph.D. program but… I’m writing this from Wooster, Ohio. We didn’t plan to move around the nation so much, but our shared love of agriculture has taken us from one end of this country to the other — from small rural towns to an apartment in the city and back to rural life again. I am one of the few people who understands the pain of living somewhere too remote to get high speed internet and pleasure of living somewhere so urban, I can get Taco Bell delivered to my door.

Currently, I’m learning to call Ohio home while working for the Certified Angus Beef Brand and running my own communications and consulting business on the side.


How did you choose your college and your major?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve told this story…

I had my heart SET on Purdue University. I knew I wanted to do Agricultural Communications and Oregon State didn’t have the major so even though I’d been raised to be a beaver, I knew I was going out of state. I applied to several of the big ag schools like Texas A&M and Oklahoma State but really wanted to go to Purdue. I honestly can’t tell you why, I just really wanted to be a Boilermaker. Kansas State wasn’t even on my radar until we took one of those college tests in class. You know, the kind that is supposed to tell you the PERFECT school for you after answering a million questions? All my friends got pages of lists of hundreds schools for them. Want to know how many showed up on my list? One. Kansas State.

My senior year of high school, I was elected to serve as an Oregon FFA State Officer which required me to defer college plans for a year. I contacted Purdue to let them know I wasn’t coming and asked to defer my admission and if they could hold my scholarships. All I got back was a cold email saying they couldn’t help, wouldn’t defer anything and that I could reapply next year.

Then I let K-State know I couldn’t make it in the fall and asked the same thing. Could they hold my scholarships and defer my admission for a year? Not only were they happy to do so, I got a HANDWRITTEN NOTE from a past Kansas FFA Officer congratulating me and letting me know they couldn’t wait for me to come to Kansas when my year of service was through. I had never been to the state of Kansas but I knew I would be going to school there.

When I attended National FFA Convention that Fall as a state officer, I knew I had to seek out the K-State booth. Amanda and I had barely crossed paths as FFA members from Eastern Oregon and I recognized her. So I walked up to her at the booth and said “You don’t know me, but I know you and I’m from Eastern Oregon and want to go to K-State and study Ag Comm like you do.”

And that’s how I became a Wildcat and friends with Amanda. 🙂

(Amanda here: I TOTALLY remember that vividly!)

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was involved in everything, which I don’t necessarily recommend. I’m not saying that to sound cool, I really did go overboard. I was president of my sorority (Sigma Alpha), president of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Chapter (loved it), was an Ag Ambassador, involved in a program called Student Foundation and helped plan the K-State Proud Campaign. I got to help teach an agricultural advocacy class, I started my freelance business, I served as editor of our college of agriculture magazine, I travelled abroad twice, I did six different internships. I packed a lot into the 3.5 years I was at K-State and loved it, but I wish I’d had the ability to make hard choices about what to invest my time in and when to say no. Saying no is sooooooooooooo hard. Sitting down with leadership of organizations to say “I quit” is not easy but it’s so worth it. It also would have prevented me from disappointing people when things conflicted or I really just couldn’t do it all. Pick 2-3 things and do those things well. But always do the study abroad trips. #worthit.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I don’t think there’s a lot that I would change, other than narrowing down what to be involved in earlier. I would have liked to stay the full four years instead of rushing into the professional world, but I don’t regret saving a semester of out of state tuition. I think if I was to tell my Freshman self anything it would be to be NICE. These people around you aren’t competition. In four years they’ll be your coworkers. Become friends now. It’s better that way. And I know a lot of college kids aren’t this way, but I would tell myself to not take everything so seriously, to go to Aggieville more, take ALL of the human development classes (they are so cool, don’t wait until your last semester) and start making student loan payments now.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Go to Aggieville. Hug your friends. Wear a lot of purple. Buy football tickets. Use the rec center. It’s free. That’s amazing. If your career is in agriculture take more ag econ courses. Do it. Do it now. Understand the markets and what influences them. I don’t care if you are studying herbology, want to work for an ad agency or be in beef genomics. If you want to be in ag, take MORE ag econ. Stop reading this right now and go sign up for more ag econ courses.

Post Grad:

Tell us about your career so far?
I was really fortunate to land a job right out of college that allowed me to work remote from home. This let me live in Raleigh where my husband was attending school and continue the freelance business I started in college. I absolutely loved getting to work in the digital media space helping farmers, ranchers and western lifestyle brands harness the power of social media.

When I was in college, I interned for Certified Angus Beef and to say I loved it wouldn’t be the right choice of words. I feltat home, like I had found my fit. Telling the stories of the beef community for such an incredible brand was like my puzzle piece had found it’s place. When a position came open on the team I had interned and freelanced for, I knew I had to apply. Ohio was never in the plans for us, but I am so fulfilled getting to help teach ranchers about high quality beef production both in the digital and print space. Bonus, is that I continue to freelance and consult, always keeping things interesting and it allows me to live out some other passions like my love for wheat farmers.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
I know it’s so cliche but it’s really all about who you know. The relationships I built in college through friends, my department, being involved in organizations, internships and attending conferences have been the biggest factor in setting me up for success. Honestly, I paid a pretty penny for my degree (#outofstateprobs) but the PEOPLE I met through my degree program are more valuable than any classroom experience and totally worth the college debt I’m paying off right now.

These people have become my coworkers, my freelance clients, and all around rockstars to have in my life. They are cheerleaders and problem solvers and world changers. I’m really lucky that I actually work for one of the company’s I interned with in college and I get to freelance and work with many other people I met or worked for in college.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Losing your people is tough. In college you go from a life surrounded by friends who have become family and a support system of mentors and teachers and life coaches and then you move away. It’s hard. It gets lonely sometimes. Also, when someone figures out the whole making good friends as an adult thing, I’ll pay to take that class. Notice how both of these answers are about people? People are the best part of college and the hardest part to lose. They are also the most challenging thing about work and the only way you’re going to get through it. People matter. More than skills, more than resumes, more than experience, more than anything.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I’m one of those people that thinks I’m a hot mess and other people think is crazy hyper-organized. I’m a big fan of Asana for task management and am now a firm believer in living that #inboxzero life. I’d be lost in this world without sticky notes, podcasts, the GPS on my phone and the app TapeACall. Also, Freshbooks. Cloud accounting software made for creatives. If you freelance and you are creating your own invoices, stop that nonsense immediately and pay for accounting software.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Ooo deep question.


  • Knowing my stuff. I spend a lot of time staying up to date with what’s going on in the world of digital communications, media, the world and my craft. I’m good at what I do, knowing the cutting edge stuff and I’m always working to get better.
  • Asking tough questions.
  • Storytelling across all platforms from a 2,500 word print story to a 140 character tweet.


  • Being comfortable in my own skin. I really wish I didn’t have to say that at this age. I wish I could say I confidently slay all the time, but I don’t. Often I need affirmation from others to go forth and do the bold thing I want to do but am far too afraid to do. Sometimes that “bold” thing really is something out of the box and innovative and some days it’s talking to a coworker instead of sending an email.
  • Man I REALLY wish I didn’t have to say that one. I overestimate what I can accomplish in a day. I need deadlines and I need help with deadlines. I’m not saying I can’t meet them, but I struggle being realistic when setting them for myself.
  • Expecting perfection. From myself. From others. I’m working on this big time right now. Give grace. We all could use some.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Oh I’m the last person you should ask about work/life balance. I LOVE what I do. It’s part of my identity and who I am. I was created to be a workaholic. I haven’t worked just one job since I was a freshman in college. However, I’ve learned the hard way that my type A, over achieving, do it all personality is at a high risk for burnout. HIGH RISK y’all. This means when I burn out, it’s not like I just fizzle out of energy, I crash and burn. There’s flames. Big ones. And I’m not the only one that gets torched in the fire. Coworkers, friends, clients, my poor husband — they all have to deal with the repercussions and that’s just not something I’m okay with anymore.

Right now this is a major focus area of my life. I seriously had to set goals and hard boundaries for myself. I have goals around when I will leave work and when I can bring my work laptop home and when I can answer work emails. My supervisor knows this and knows if I break my own rules. Does this sound overboard? Maybe. But I can tell you I am a completely different human now that I’m working from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. five days a week. I have time for things like working out and cooking dinner and I’m even thinking about starting to watch Game of Thrones. Nicole a year ago had to be dragged away from her computer at 11:50 p.m. every night. I worked weekends. I answered work email as soon as it came through. I never shut off.

Don’t be that person. It’s not healthy and it’s not getting you ahead. I’m not saying don’t go the extra mile. Just be the person that does more in their 8 hour workday instead of the person that works 17 hours a day.

Hannah O’Leary Photography

Just For Fun:

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
My freelance work. This might sound crazy but it’s the first thing I do when I get out of bed. I go straight to my home office and crank out the first chore of the day. It also makes me feel amazing that by the time I head off to my “day job” I’ve already put in a couple hours of work while everyone else was sleeping. Also, then when I get home in the evening, I don’t have to continue working and can just relax.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Um… caffeine. In the past it’s been Diet Pepsi. I’m really trying to cut that out or at least reduce my intake but I used to basically drink it like a fish breathes water. So right now it’s Crystal light with caffeine. I can give up the soda, but not the caffeine.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
This is tough because I truly believe I’m doing what I was made to do. I was born to be a writer. I was made to tell stories. I’m passionate about digital media and how we can use it to build common ground. I love agriculture and believe there is not another industry whose stories need so desperately to be communicated and that if they are communicated effectively have the ability to create immense positive change for our nation and our world.

If the ag thing didn’t work out, all limitations aside, I might have gone into journalism for one of the major news organizations or I’d be in D.C. telling the stories of politics. I love D.C. and politics and my husband refuses to live there. He also could care less about policy. However, either way I’d be living out my truth that stories have this insane power to create change and I want to be one of the lucky ones wielding the wand.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Brooke Harshaw. The color purple. Limestone. K-State Football and Bill Snyder folklore. Raspberry Black Bean Chipotle Dip. Rent being only $375. The Thurston House. The Claflin House. The way people celebrate Kansas Day like it’s a national holiday. The people. Feeling at home.


Nicole, I am so, so, so very thankful for our friendship and that I always have someone to chat with that totally gets it. Thank you for sharing your story on my blog. I know that others will appreciate it as much as I did. #westcoastbestcoast


So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 18

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}


This post should really be titled “What has been going on in Amanda’s life for the last two months to keep her from blogging even once?” But obviously that would have been a bit long and obnoxious.

Well as you will see below, I’ve been pretty busy! Every week day has been full at work and my weekends even more full. I’ve actually been slowly adding to this post for a few weeks now, and final found a moment to send it off.

I also returned last week from a quick work trip to GUAM! So as soon as I can get to the pictures on my nice camera I will be blogging about that (hopefully this week)!

Anyway, back to not-so-regularly scheduled programming…

1. NEEDTOBREATHE and Mat Kearney


I crossed two old favorites off my list of live concerts to see with my friends Sarah and Elissa. I have been a fan of Mat Kearney since he debuted about 10 years ago when I was in high school. And NEEDTOBREATHE I discovered early in college. The Monday night concert was out at Wolf Trap Park and was a great venue!

The fact that Mat is originally from Oregon and includes it in a lot of his songs definitely makes me an even bigger fan.

I LOVE when artists cover other classic songs and artists, and blend it in with their own songs.

I was a bit disappointed that we did not get a full rendition of my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE song but the acoustic snippet was still great.

2. Labor Day Weekend


After some back and forth of who was going to visit who where… Nicole made the trek up from Raleigh for a weekend in DC. I am sure I have said this before on the blog, but Nicole is a fellow kid from Eastern Oregon who studied Ag Communications at K-State, and now lives on the East Coast. Yeah, we have a lot in common…

Our weekend was filled with attending the K-State watch party, wandering through Eastern Market and Capitol Hill Bookstore, a few museums and typical DC sightseeing. I’m pretty sure she would agree that the highlight was going to the Newseum! I will never understand why I waited so long to go! There were many moments where Nicole and I both had to pause to collect ourselves, we were really nerding out.



If you are in DC or a visiting book nerd, a stop at Capitol Hill Bookstore is a must for your list. This video does not do it justice.






This story probably deserved its own blog post, but I think too much time has passed for that so I’m sharing it here.

So to get into my condo building you need a separate key from the one I use on my apartment (it is a really old building.) Because I was wearing jeans that evening I decided to not carry a purse or clutch, and just put everything in my pockets, except for my keys which I gave to Nicole to put in her clutch. Except I was trying to be efficient and just gave her my apartment key instead of my whole key ring…

Fast forward to us getting home at 3 a.m., a bit tipsy and realizing that we were locked out of the building, and to top it off the buzzer that is supposed to allow me to open the door remotely from my cell phone was not working. Right about when I am thinking that I am going to have to get us a hotel room, this guy walks up and listens to me go on and on about how I promise I live here and am not some crazy person trying to break in. He lets us in and then I continue to badger him to let me know which apartment number he is in so that I can bring him a bottle of wine. He tried turning me down (and not tell the drunk crazy girl where he lived) but if you know me you know I am persistent.

I did indeed make good on my promise to leave him some wine outside his door (and promptly left very quickly) and just so happened to have this wine on hand with the perfect name.

3. Costco


My family have been Costco members through our business since I was little and it was about time that I got my own card, you know, to spend all of that extra money that I have…


4. Virginia Tech Game


In September, I visited Blacksburg again to spend the weekend with one of my favorite Kansans, Chelsea, who is going to grad school there. I am a sucker for a college gameday and tailgate no matter who is playing… even if they do have some strange traditions.

5. West Virginia vs. K-State Road Trip


Speaking of college football… I started out October the right way by road tripping with my fellow DC K-State alum to our game versus West Virginia. The end of the game was a tad bit embarrassing but it was a great day overall, and for the most part the WVU were very welcoming. Now if I could only get that John Denver song out of my head…


Also, I just love how small the world is! Katie was a part of our group because she was visiting her BF who is at Georgetown Law and also happens to be the sister-in-law to one of my best friends from college, Blaine.

6. Eric Stonestreet K-State Video

And speaking of K-State Football…

So cheesy and so, so wonderful.
And the fact that it is narrated by everyone’s favorite K-State alum makes it 10 times better.
Just do not make me admit how many times I’ve watched it.

7. Gilmore Girls Revival

Have I mentioned lately HOW EXCITED I AM!?!

8. Chasing Bubbles

Looking for a bit of motivation or a break from binge watching on Netflix? I HIGHLY recommend checking out this documentary, “Chasing Bubbles.” It is about really seeing life as a journey and a story about how one guy sailed around the world to discover that. Of course its about a lot more than that, but you should just really watch it to find out.

For me it was also interesting because the younger brother of the guy the film is about is one of my friends through my AFA leadership network. I honestly do not know Joe all that well, but it was interesting to learn about the family he comes from and a bit of what makes him who he is. Overall, this documentary really touched me and it is a story that deserves to be shared.

9. My Puppies


I miss these two all the time, and certainly could not pass up giving them some love on Instagram on #NationalDogDay


10. My Dad and His “Kitty-Kitty”


Over the past two months my parents have been in the process of moving houses, and while living with my grandparents for a few weeks the pets had to stay at various other places.  My Dad has a rather strange affection for one of the cats and so this SnapChat from my sister is just too funny NOT to document.

11.Coffee Things

Coffee has been the real MVP lately.







12. Forever Country

The Country Music Association is turning 50 this year and recently released this medley of songs with a long list of country music all-stars.

I have yet to watch it without tearing up.

13. National Taco Day


My sister posted this collage on #NationalTacoDay.
We may or may not have a taco obsession in our family.

14. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.




The scaffolding is FINALLY all removed, and the Capitol sure does look gorgeous!



On the Key Bridge overlooking the Potomac River


I recommend “Bilbo Baggins” restaurant. It’s quirky and cute.


Excited for this K-State friend to be in DC for the next full year!





Volunteering at a community garden with my church.


Got dinner and did some site seeing with my cousin Dave who was in town for work.

15. My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.





Substitute a Dirty Chai Latte for the PSL and this is all me.






Pretty sure my parents thought this on the daily for the first 10 years of my life.

img_0354 img_0357

16. Update on My Favorite Kiddos

Because this has become the best part of my “So There’s That” posts.



Wesley Ray – somewhere between 6 and 7 months old.



Robin Michele – somewhere between 5 and 6 months old.
I just LOVE the picture above of Robin with her Mama.


So, There’s That.


So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 13

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}


I still haven’t been really motivated to blog lately, but I realized yesterday that I have not done a So There’s That post since LAST SEPTEMBER. That’s pretty bad considering they are the easiest type of post that I do, AND my random word document that I keep a running list of things I see and might want to share later was four pages long.


1. Insta-Inspiration

inst for blog

From my Instagram last week:

“This quote really resonates with me lately. I think recognizing fear is important because it reminds us we are human. But I also think fear helps shine a light on the things we are passionate about — the things that move us enough that find a way to be fearless in our pursuit.”

2. Happy Anniversary


Earlier this week on Feb. 22, my Grammy and Grampy celebrated 48 years together! My sister shared this cute picture that made me laugh and my caption on social media was, “The question is, are these look of love, or are they in the middle of a sassy conversation?”

These were the comments…
(Gloria – Grammy; David – Grampy; Lisa – Cousin; Susan – Great Aunt)


3. Happy FFA Week

Every year, this week makes me a bit nostalgic. That blue jacket and my experiences in it account for so much of who I am today. A few years ago I wrote about “After Unzipping the Blue Jacket” and this year my friend Nicole wrote a great blog post on “If My FFA Jacket Could Talk…” She makes a reference to rat stomping…don’t worry, its just this weird thing that apparently only kids in Hermiston, OR do.

4. Bill Gates’ Book Reviews

I am always interested in what different leaders are reading, and thought this blog of book lists and reviews was really interesting.

5. Grandma’s Explain Millennial Terms

grandmas explain

This is hysterical, and now I want to be friends with this ladies.

6. Kacey Musgraves Covers Yellow

I am usually really skeptical when people cover one of my all-time favorite songs. But not this time. Kacey Musgraves cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” was beautiful.

7. Gems Found on The Timehop App

josh Timehop

I think this in response to however I wished my uncle a Happy Birthday while he was studying abroad in Spain. Who knows, I’m weird because he is really weird.

But his advice for broccoli is still pretty spot on.

8. Because I Just Can’t Let ‘The Hunger Games’ Go Yet

Hunger Games

19 Times Tumbler Got Totally Real About “The Hunger Games”

9. Speaking of J-Law

Seriously girl, I feel ya.

10. Steven Tyler with a Street Musician

I always think random things like this are so cool.

11. The Setup Wizard

the setup wizard

Fellow HP friends, you are so very welcome.

12. Getting Random Texts Like These From Friends

Rebel Wilson

13. Gal Pals

Why Women Need Their Girlfriends

This Huffington Post article is being passed around this week on Facebook, and to be honest, I actually teared up a little bit (and that doesn’t happen often.) Having lived in three different time zones now, I realize more and more how important my close girlfriends are to me.

14. According to Leo


I recently sent this to my little sister who is a senior in her last semester of college.
She wasn’t very amused.

15. And Then I’ll Leave You With This

morning DC

This was a Snapchat picture from the passenger seat of a moving car, so you can imagine how pretty it was in person.


So, There’s That.

Career/Professional, Family, Friendship, Oregon

Catching Up in 2016…

So it has officially been a month since I last blogged.

Oops. I’ve been doing so well over the past year, but I was bound to have a dry spell again, and it definitely won’t be the last time. To be fair, 2016 has already been a whirlwind, and when I wasn’t busy, I really wasn’t motivated. So today will really just be about catching up a bit and sharing what I have been up to so far this year.

Extra points for those who aren’t related to me and didn’t just close the web browser.

Homeward Bound Again

In the almost 8 years since having left Oregon, I usually always go a few months in between my trips home. This time though, work sent me back just two short weeks after I had been home for Christmas.

This is also where I should note that over those past 8 years of a LOT of air travel, I have a pretty good track record. Only once have I had to spend the night in an airport. I have had to run to make a connection maybe 2 or 3 times and again there has only been one time that I had to get a hotel because of a missed connection due to delays. But my flight to Portland on this trip? I missed completely because I slept in. Let me tell you, the feeling of dread when you wake up and see daylight through the window when you should have been at the airport before sunrise, is not something I want to feel again. I was able to catch another direct flight later in the afternoon, but I am still pretty embarrassed.

My trip to Portland was to participate in a PNW Wheat Marketing Tour with the Idaho Wheat Commission, to experience the wheat supply chain from start to finish. I really value anytime that I get to spend quality time with our farmers and I especially enjoyed seeing a city that I grew up near through a new set of lenses. I won’t go into to much detail, but I did write a short article about my experience, “Pacific Northwest Grain Industry Tour Reveals Source of Quality, Reliability” that you can read here.  My favorite part was hands down, was the opportunity to ride on a tugboat that was pushing a barge up the river.  I didn’t know it was possible to nerd out that much over a tugboat, but friends, IT WAS SO COOL. Even though I grew up watching tugboats and barges on the nearby Columbia River, transportation in agriculture is one of the sectors that I know the least about. Life on the tugboat is a unique line of work and I now have a much better appreciation for that part of the supply chain.

The Wheat Marketing Center is one of a kind. This is a great place for tours and learning about wheat foods. They are doing a lot of really could research!
Out on the tugboat! It was SO cold!

I was in Portland Sunday through Wednesday, when my sister drove in to pick me up and take me back home to Eastern Oregon. As always I packed as much as I possibly could into my time at home. On Thursday I went to my old high school to speak with two groups of students. My audience ranged from freshmen to seniors so instead of just focusing on same old college and career prep that they are going to endlessly hear from someone else, I chatted with them on the importance of your “own personal brand” and the role it plays — whether you have an online presence or not — in both college and the start of your career. I shared with them about some of my personal experiences, how I’ve handled both success and failure and a few real life tips. The one student that I personally knew assured me that it was a really good presentation, and I definitely wasn’t lame. .. to be honest, I was just really pumped that I was able to tie in both a Harry Potter and Doctor Who meme into my key messages. #adulting.

I spent some time with my family, watching the high school boys basketball game that my Grampy coaches, and on Saturday my whole family went to our local annual variety show, which was complete with a cast iron-cooked dinner. This is the first year that I have been able to go, and it certainly reminded me why I love my small hometown. The highlight of my weekend though, was being able to attend my best friend’s baby shower. Richole and Dustin are due mid-March, and when they heard that I would be back home again, Richole’s mother-in-law agreed to move the shower date just so I could be there. I have a few friends with babies now, but Richole is the first of my best gals, and that meant the world to me that I could be there to help celebrate.

Love this girl so much, and I am so excited to see her become a mama.


Winter Storm Jonas

A few days after I got back from Oregon, the East Coast was hit by Winter Storm Jonas. Now I’ve grown up with snow in the mountains and there were blizzards in Kansas, but this storm and experience was UNREAL. My college friend Jancey had been in town that week for a conference and was planning on staying through the weekend for a fun tourist weekend with me. Instead, she ending up snowed in with me and couldn’t get a flight out for another 2 days. The snowfall lasted for about 36 hours straight and accumulated an average 17 to 26 inches throughout the area. My office was closed for two full days and there were many more half days and delayed starts. When I first moved hear people tried to explain that the city pretty much shuts completely down. Of course, until I experienced it first hand I couldn’t quite grasp what that meant. Grocery stores were empty, and I had a carton of eggs stolen out of my cart the day before storm! A reporter I know back in Kansas even referenced it in a article she wrote #thingsyoucantmakeup. Jancey and I watched A LOT of movies, ventured out a few times when visibility finally cleared up and participated in an epic snowball fight outside of the Clarendon Metro Station. Oh and I had a leak in my kitchen ceiling. I might have some good stories, but its definitely an experience I am not looking forward to having again anytime soon. I really wish WordPress would get its act together and make it easier to attach videos without first putting them on YouTube, because there are a few on my Instagram and Facebook that capture quick looks at our long, crazy weekend.

facebook status about eggs

Josh Abbott Band

In college I built my budget around being able to go to concerts of all sizes and genres.  But Aggieville, the bar district in Manhattan, KS, is where I fell in love with red dirt/Texas country music. Since moving to DC I hadn’t sought any of the music scenes yet, so when a friend told me she heard JAB would be in the area, there was no way that I was going to miss it. The venue, 9:30 Club, was great, and apparently one of the more popular small venues in the area. A K-State friend who is a student at Georgetown Law tagged along, and while it was great to hear some of their new music, I was really excited to hear most of my old favorites that made me fall in love with the genre and really, Kansas, in the first place.

Josh Abbott Band at 9:30 Club

Board Meetings

A lot of my busy schedule recently was due to the winter board meeting at work. While our summer and fall meetings are always at other locations, the winter one is here in DC. Between the holidays, travel and the winter storm, by the time I reached the week of the board meeting, it felt like I hadn’t had a “normal” since about mid-December. But even though this meeting had a different pace because the staff doesn’t travel, I really enjoy board meetings. I love the collaboration and hearing about what the different parts of our organization are working on and accomplishment. And of course I really value the opportunity to interact with our farmers and state staff. Outside of the DC office there are so many quality people who contribute to our mission, and getting to know those people personally adds so much more purpose to my career. I was especially excited though, because we recently brought on one of my good friends as a freelancer for the communications team and she was able to make it up to DC for the meetings. Nicole and I both call Northeast Oregon home and vaguely knew each other through FFA, and then ended up becoming friends as ag comm majors at K-State. It’s always nice when the world feels a bit smaller and I am so excited that our paths have continued to cross back and forth.

Nicole and I were able to make a little bit of time for some tourist fun.

Thanks for catching up with me. Next week I will be back to a regular blogging schedule. I am pretty excited that end of winter is in sight! So far my spring calendar includes National Ag Day events, a girls weekend NYC trip with my best friend Megan, a quick work trip to Kansas, searching for a new apartment to move into at the end of May and HOPEFULLY a quick trip to Georgia to watch my sister play in the NAIA Women’s Golf Championship!

Always something to look forward to.!



Thankful for Friends.

First, I’m just going to put this here…

“23 Greatest Thanksgiving Moments From “Friends”

thanksgiving GIF

…please ignore the fact that this post is more than a week late…

I might have a pretty strong argument for Manhattan, KS being the happiest place there is, but I’ve also always said that I truly believe that you can and will find great people wherever you go if you are open to it. Over the past two weeks though, those people have just so happened to be from that happy place and for that I am extra thankful.

At the end of November I made the trek in holiday traffic down to Raleigh, NC (a 6.5 hour drive that should have only been 4.5) hours to spend Thanksgiving with a group of Oregonians transplanted on the East Coast. I originally met Jake and Nicole back as Oregon FFA members and eventually played a role helping recruit them out to K-State. Now Jake is wrapping his first semester of grad school at NC State and Nicole will be joining him in NC after she graduates from K-State (holla to a fellow ACJ grad!) this month. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend with great food ( I’m mean REALLY great food) and even better company.

Thanks for the invite!

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With Jake and Nicole.
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Friendsgiving 2015 Group

This past weekend I enjoyed a visit from another Kansas favorite. My friend Chelsea is one of the first friends I made when I first moved to Kansas. She was a year ahead of me living in Smurthwaite Scholarship House and became my official “Big Sis.” Many times those pairings don’t turn into friendships or only last during your time in Smurthwaite, but Chelsea was the perfect match for me and I am thankful that we are still friends today. Chelsea is currently working toward getting her PhD at Virginia Tech and was able to get a weekend off to visit and join me for the last K-State football watch party of the season!

We enjoyed a pretty laid back weekend and of course a WILDCAT VICTORY! Saturday was beautiful with sunshine and temps hanging around in the upper 50’s so we also detoured for a walk by the White House Eclipse to see the national Christmas tree and holiday decorations.





 Each state and U.S. territory had its own little tree. I thought it really strange that every single tree was decorated with big glass balls filled with things representative of the state… EXCEPT for Oregon, which had a bunch of additional, and in my opinion, weird decorations. #KeepOregonWeird?



Thanks for a great weekend Chelsea! It was great getting to catch up!


Agriculture, Friendship, Kansas

Down at the Farmer’s Market

Saturday’s are my day to sleep in. Unless I’m getting up for a K-State football game or I’m off on some adventure, the world should not expect to see me until at least 10 a.m.

But a few weekends ago my curiosity finally got the best of me. I finally made my way down to the Manhattan Downtown Farmer’s Market. And I drug Nicole, my favorite fellow ‘Eastern-Oregon-native-turned-KStater’ with me {we’ll work on smoother title for her later.}

Farmer’s markets have always intrigued me. I think that fascination partially comes from growing up in a family retail business and the enjoyment of attending random flea markets and antique shops with my family. I think that there’s something admirable about an entrepreneurial spirit and poetic about finding a treasure amongst other people’s trash. Combine that with my passion for agriculture and the fact that there are many hot topics that revolve around farmer’s market, it really is a surprise that this was my first time. When I lived in Wichita and Kansas City each for a summer, I was disappointed that I was never able to make it to either of the ones held in those cities. So once I got a bit more settled into Manhattan being my new long-term home, it went to the top of my “good year” bucket list.

Nicole and I had a great time seeing all of the odds and ends, colors and of course, interesting characters. The market has everything from food and handmade jewelry and paintings to spices and a variety of bees wax products. {Note to self: learn more about bees.} I think my favorite part was the sunflowers and the lady with the table of spices and herbs. I think she could have talked to us for the rest of the day if we had stayed. Now with Nicole and I being a student and recent graduate in agricultural communications, we took a lot of interest in the food aspect of the market. The organic foods and local foods movement {which can be two different things} have  a large stake in farmer’s markets. When it comes to this whole organic business, most know that I have my opinion and respectfully choose to purchase what is referred to as conventional foods. I will say though, that I don’t say that with fighting words prepped and ready to unleash. Right now those are reserved for a certain deli that is making some poor marketing decisions. {Yes, I’m looking at you Panera.} Organic farming has found itself a successful niche market and when it comes down to it, if there is a demand for it and a profit to be made, well then part of me can’t stand in the way of giving the people what they want. And when it comes to actually becoming certified organic as a farmer, it is a long and expensive process, and so , I can summon up some respect for someone who invests hard work and dedication into what they believe in. Remember, he or she is still a farmer, trying to make a living off the land to contribute to the food supply and often resembles the farmers that we carry a flag for, they just choose to go about it a little differently. Now before it starts sounding like I’ve gone soft, I assure you, my opinion to not buy or eat organic food as a consumer and agriculturalist remains the same. Don’t bail on me yet friends. This week the hot article across social media came from Henry Miller’s Forbes article, Is Organic Agriculture Affluent Narcissism?  I agreed with what Miller said and with my friends who shared it and echoed their support. It was refreshing to see the article garner that much attention. But I will rise up to voice my subtle concern that while it was a strong, factual article and did a great job of rallying the troops, I think that at times, its tone might of caused us to lose some of the audience who needed to read it the most. Sorry sir, but calling Whole Foods a “rip-off artist” and practically telling those who choose organic that they might as well be a cult isn’t going to help anyone. It’s a hard position to be in. I too get frustrated when we’re standing with the science in our hands and still it turns into a argument of values and what’s hip, not knowing the whole story and trying to convince others that they aren’t even using the definition of organic correctly. And when someone tries to tell me that we can continue to feed a growing world population on that system, it leaves me just about speechless. But I truly believe we have to be having conversations and sharing the facts on a level that means something to the average consumer, and we can’t give up. Let’s just work on getting them with a bit more kindness instead. I encourage everyone to ask lots of questions and see the whole picture. You can start by listening to Nicole’s interesting perspective over on her blog.

That took us on a bit of a detour, but considering the article came out soon after my visit, I felt like sharing was appropriate. The market didn’t only consist of organic food vendors, which was encouraging. We didn’t end up purchasing anything aside from Nicole’s sample stick of honey, but it was definitely a great experience and an enjoyable morning.

I’m pretty sure we are definitely planning on going back.

– Amanda