Student earns national award

Daily Journal staff report

In 450 words, the Whiteland Community High School senior told her family’s story of building a business in agriculture and how she will carry it on.

Emily Dougherty wrote about how her great-great-great-grandfather cleared a forest, dug a ditch and started a farm near Whiteland 160 years ago.

She told of how she and her brothers help farm that same land and how she wants to study agriculture in college, come back to the family farm and find answers to problems facing agriculture.

Her story has earned her a national award. Dougherty recently won the 2016 National Ag Day Essay Competition. All the entrants wrote on the topic of “Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet.”

She decided to write about her family’s deep connection to the land and how family farms have become increasingly important as the amount of farms in the United States is decreasing.

She highlights how her family’s care of the farm has made them strong stewards of the land her ancestors painstakingly cleared.

Part of her prize is going to Washington, D.C., on March 15 to read her essay aloud to representatives of the United States Department of Agriculture.

She will stand and read the essay to people who make decisions regarding the country’s agriculture.

“I will reinforce how agriculture is our future,” she said.

Part of her mission in writing the essay wasn’t just to win a trip to Washington D.C. and a $1,000 prize.

She wants to educate people who might not know about agriculture.

Dougherty researched to see how the world’s population was growing and how farmers have stood up to meet that need using technology.

When her family’s farm began, her great grandfather fed 19 people using the farm. Her grandpa fed 26. Her dad is feeding 155 people with the farm.

Dougherty’s essay partly explores how much farming has changed over 100 years, said Hannah Goeb, agriculture science teacher at Whiteland Community High School.

Farms that have been worked generation after generation are shrinking, with some going away completely, said Goeb.

Dougherty writing about her plans to attend college, learn more about agriculture and take her education back to her family farm is an endearing aspect take that likely pushed her essay to the top, Goeb said.

Part of the reason some family farms are disappearing is the lack of willing young people who will come back to their family’s farm after getting an education, she said.