What it is like being the ‘ag kid’ growing up


n 1881, Dakota Agricultural College was founded as a land-grant college, primarily focusing on agriculture.  Since its beginning, South Dakota State University has changed names, added quite a few dorms and expanded its list of accredited majors.

 Some students still attend SDSU for the agriculture program. I happen to be one of them. Not all “ag kids” have the same experiences, but this is mine.

 I grew up in a small town in southwest Wisconsin, so being part of the agriculture community is nothing new to me, but being part of the agriculture community on the SDSU campus is something special.

 When I started at SDSU, I was excited to be assigned to Hansen Hall. I made many long-lasting friendships because of the community in Hansen, where BBQs took place on the deck weekly, skilled ropers practiced daily and some sort of dead game coming through the lobby was a common sight. The greatest thing about Hansen Hall was that it was a family and a tradition. 

 As a student in Hansen, I was automatically deemed an “ag kid.” Thatwas not wrong, but that did not mean I didn’t know anything about the rest of the world. I had friends from many different majors all over campus, which were different from my Hansen Hall-mates.

 You see, I am not your stereotypical “ag kid.” Sure, I would rather spend time with my cows than humans, and I can field dress a whitetail just as well as any boy, but I also enjoy wearing dresses to dinner and listening to indie music.

 Today, most of my peers probably do not even realize that I am an “ag kid.” I do not wear boots or Sperry’s to class, I do not thrive on country music and I own more leggings than bootcut jeans. So when I speak out on agricultural issues in support of farmers, some people may be surprised.

 I tell my roommates that I have a “hipster heart with a gypsy soul,” and they completely agree. Growing up an “ag kid” does not mean that you never travel or that you are uneducated. Actually, I traveled to Norway because I was an “ag kid.”

 Because I am an “ag kid,” I have strong views of the world since I have traveled it, I can handle life and death because I held it in my hands and I can handle business because I had a key role in running a farm.

 The problem with being an “ag kid” is that society has turned it into being a “hick.” Students today are too far removed from the farm to know what it is really about, and the “ag kids” feel too much of a divide to try to explain it.

 So today we have SDSU students who are stealing the head of the roping steer in front of Pierson Hall for the fun of it, and we have a residence hall dedicated to the agriculture major on the complete opposite end of campus from all of the classrooms. I think people are forgetting the history of SDSU or maybe they just never took the time to learn it. 

Brenna Ramsden is an agriculture communications major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].