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Amy Kirk: MY Graduation Speech

Our son had to give a speech at his high school graduation of which I had several suggestions, but much to my disappointment he wasn't interested in hearing them. He had his own idea, so I decided I would share one of my graduation speech ideas with readers.

Work in agriculture produces qualities that can easily be applied to a graduate. The following are common farm and ranch virtues that could be helpful to a graduate.

• Be present. On farms and ranches being dedicated and focused to what you are doing can save a person's life. Attending to personal business has it's time and place, and it's not on an employer's time.

• Time is money; don't waste either one. Farmers and ranchers know from experience (and adverse weather conditions) that time and money are precious, so they survive by being conservative, efficient, and prepared. Those who find other tasks to do once their work is done are the people that get to keep their job and usually rise to the top.

• Work equally hard at the crappy jobs. Doing the work that no one else wants to do can be the fertilizer for planting, growing, and reaping something of greater value later. Shoveling manure and seemingly meaningless tasks all need done. It demonstrates a willingness to work hard and some tasks produce useful knowledge pertaining to other jobs.

• Be industrious. At times people in ag have to figure out alternative ways to get work done when normal systems fail. Being industrious goes a long way in a job.

• Be flexible. Farmers and ranchers live an unpredictable lifestyle and have to adapt regularly. The ability to adjust can give a person an edge in the competition.

• Learn to overcome. Farmers and ranchers are sometimes forced to overcome setbacks, hardships, or disasters, but keep going. Overcoming obstacles builds confidence and resistance to failure-mindset.

• Be self-motivated and ambitious. Caring for livestock, being land stewards, and maintenancing equipment are things that make farms and ranches successful. Self-motivated and ambitious people get noticed, get raises, and get recognized, and are qualities in high demand.

• Improvise. Good ol' baling wire has resolved many problems on our ranch. The ability to improvise makes a person valuable. Ingenuity is a useful and free problem solving tool.

• Use your skills and gifts. People are equipped with talents to be used in helpful and useful ways so put them to work in achieving goals.

• Be courageous. Most personal growth takes place when risks are taken, fears are faced, and individuals are willing to step outside their comfort zone.

• Have gratitude. Most farm and ranch families are grateful for and content with what they already have. People who have gratitude aren't nearly as disappointed with life.

• Be resourceful. Farmers and ranchers use the resources that are available to them. Resourcefulness is highly praised, admired, and respected because it creates efficiency and less waste and people who accomplish things without spending extra money stand out.

• Make above-standard respect habitual. Respect people above, below, older, and younger than yourself, as well as others' property and opinions and your reputation will reserve jobs for you.

• Login with nature regularly. Any amount of time in nature brings clarity, ideas, and solutions. Nature is free therapy that de-stresses. This is how farm and ranch families are able to continue going strong.

• Appreciate rigid teachers, hard classes, and difficult jobs. Something good comes from every tough experience, even if it's just learning something about yourself.

• When life throws you off, get back on. Life's biggest rewards and accomplishments stem from never giving up.

• Be humble and modest. Demonstrating what you know is more convincing and impressive than telling people what you know.

• But most importantly graduates; call your mother once in a while. She may know a thing or two.

-- Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at