Ashley is pictured on the far left.

I was raised on a cow calf operation along with some farming in Southeastern Montana and attended school in Broadus. Looking for a smaller college to attend led me to find the University of Montana Western in Dillon. I’m in my third year at Western and have been actively involved with agriculture clubs on campus. I am seeking a double major in Business Administration and Natural Horsemanship. My future plan after Western is to attend law school and practice in Montana.
The main reason I chose to attend the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference was to learn to be a better advocate for agriculture. Coming from a small farming and ranching community, the thought that people were so disconnected from agriculture had never really crossed my mind until I had personal experience with this.
Someone told me, “I buy the brown eggs because the white ones are bleached”. This conversation was a real eye-opener for me.
How can we help people who don’t come from agricultural backgrounds understand more? 
This was the question I asked myself going into the conference and so I chose to participate in a tour that was focused around “Where does your food come from?” Right in the center of Reno, Nevada is a little place call Urban Roots. This facility was previously a parking lot that had been renovated to now consist of three greenhouses and a little recreational area. Urban Roots hosts summer programs for kids of all ages to participate in. 
Each week has a different theme with different activities, so the kids are introduced to more than just the aspects of having a garden. An example our guide gave was bringing in farm animals for the kids to experience. It was really cool to see how, even in downtown Reno, people are able to create interactive ways to involve kids who would not have otherwise received this experience. I think their facility and program are setting a phenomenal example and is great inspiration for future ideas. 
The conference also offered so much more; including many different breakout sessions on a variety of topics and opportunities to network with others. I sat in on various breakout sessions that interested me ranging from leadership improvement and youth education to refining your resume. The conference encouraged you to meet new people and make friends from all over the U.S. through lunches and events like a fun evening of bowling at the National Bowling Stadium. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Reno and highly encourage everyone to seriously consider attending future conferences. I would also like to thank the Montana Farm Bureau for selecting me to receive a scholarship to attend this year’s conference!