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Swine sale photo shoot provides valuable lessons

Lindsey Robinson Will Robinson feeding a pig
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Will Robinson uses a feed bowl to keep a bred gilt’s attention during a sale catalog shoot. He takes his job of prop director seriously.
College Farmer: The family farm is the perfect place to learn teamwork and creativity.

Taking photos of bred gilts for an online sale at my family’s swine farm is our own version of a Hollywood-glamour magazine photo shoot.

The setup and operation are not too much different, except for the subject matter — pigs. The crew consists of my sisters, my dad and me. Annie and Kate oversee makeup and wardrobe for our stars. In this case, that means washing and prepping the pigs. Lauren is in charge of location scouting, and then transporting the pigs to the location for the shoot.

My sister Lindsey is the photographer; she’s the one running the camera. Dad is the director; he tells the person guiding the feed pan or other prop when to guide the pig forward in order to get the best shot.

Finally, there’s me, the prop director. I control the feed pan or anything else that will capture the pig’s attention, and take orders from the director on when to adjust the pig’s stance.

Learning how to work effectively on a team at a young age provides youth in agriculture a step up on everyone else their age.

Ag is social

Programs and activities such as sports, 4-H and FFA help to further develop these skills, but the foundation starts at home.

Since I was home-schooled from seventh grade until I went to college, I hear a lot of people my age say, “It’s amazing how you came out of your shell at college,” or they’ll say, “You’re not what I thought a home-school kid would be like.” To me, there never was a real shell to break out of because of my background in agriculture and traveling around the country to show livestock.

Majoring in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri, I have taken many classes in both the journalism school and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

I found my freshman year that the students in the agriculture classes were more effective when communicating and working with one another because they had done so for most of their lives.

On-farm learning

A lawyer's kid may know what legal issue their parent is working on, but they aren’t involved in putting that case together. However, ask a kid in agriculture how many of acres of corn their family planted or how many litters of pigs are in the nursery and they know. Why? Because they played a role in planting those acres and settling those litters.

Agriculture cultivates more than crops and cattle; it grows friendships and builds futures. It offers opportunities for young people to learn to work together. Farming is the perfect example of the “family business,” because everyone in the family has a role to play. In the end, as a farm family, you can create something really cool, like a great online swine sale catalog.

Robinson is a senior majoring in science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Contact him at [email protected].

TAGS: Livestock
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