A Lifetime of AG-vocating

Deidre Schreiber  I  Agricultural Sciences  I  OSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Program at Eastern Oregon University  I  Enterprise, Oregon  I  EOU Ag Club President  I  OSU ANR Program Ambassador  I  Oregon FFA State Secretary 2019-2020  I  2018 Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Queen

An Ag-vocate from the Beginning

I grew up on my family's commercial cattle ranch along the Imnaha River in Hells Canyon. Agriculture has always been my passion from participating in 9 4-H projects as a first year junior (beef, air rifle, archery, fly fishing, cooking, sewing, breeding beef and horses). I think I knew I was meant to communicate about agriculture from a young age. My mom loves to tell the story about when I was four and stole the microphone from the horse judge at the county fair and began placing the class myself.  Even if it was just nonsense, I was being heard. I love riding my horses in my free time as a way to relive stress. In February of 2021 my mom and I started a decorated sugar cookie company, Rancho Road Bakery. We enjoy baking together and being able to spread joy to others through our cookies. I am also an active member of the EOU Ag Club where my friend and I teach swing dancing every other week to the members in the club. 

A New Generation of Agriculturists

I always knew I was mean to be in agriculture. Growing up so immersed in the industry it became easy to how agriculture is a common factor in everything from medicine to law and business to communications. When it came to time to choose a field of study, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to study agriculture. Something about learning how the world worked and how I could help the people I cared about the most drew me to study agriculture. 

It would be difficult to predict the impact of my personal work on society in the future, but  I can tell you about my generation of agriculturalists. We are the most informed and informative generation thus far. We have unlimited access to information through the internet and are able to connect with older agriculturalists for their advice. There is so much information out there that it is no surprise that we an incredibly well educated group. We are also the most informative. We grew up in the age of social media and all went through a phase where we thought our duck face, peace sign selfie was the most important thing to share on the internet. Now, we have agriculturalists sharing their stories through Tic Tok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We get a daily dose of what like might look like on a dairy operation, feedlot or organic farm all at the touch of our fingertips. I believe we are also in the middle of great change within our industry. Every day we are becoming more inclusive, doing more with less and overall getting closer to the goal of being able to feed all of the families across the world. 

New Lessons to be Learned

Studying agriculture in Eastern Oregon has taken me more places and taught me more outside of the classroom than I ever though was possible. In the winter of 2021, I applied and was offered a job at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Station in Union, OR. the station sits on 600 acres just outside La Grande and is home to about 250 head of mother cows, 35 replacement heifers, a dozen or so bulls and 80 steers that are fed out as long yearlings. When I started at the experiment station I only had experiences from my family's operation to lean on. A little too big for my britches, I really thought I knew all there was to know about beef cattle production. Little did I know, I was in for quite the reckoning. I was incredibly lucky to have two great mentors as my bosses at the Experiment station. They were always patient while I learned to run the PTO. maneuver the tractor over culverts, run the hydraulic chute or get the skid steer out of a tight spot in the stackyard. They also modeled traits I wanted to see in myself. Jake was a quiet, easy going leader, who on the rare occasion that he gave praise, made you excited to get to work the next day. Kenny brings humor to difficult situations, is always able to find a common thread with someone and has overflowing compassion for animals, which can be seen in the slightly obese barn cat, Coop, he rescued that now watches over the station. When I reflect on my experience at the station, I see that the folks out there did more for me than teach me about cattle production and horsemanship. Rather, they invested in me as a person, growing my confidence little by little, often without my knowledge and giving me a space where it was okay to learn and ask questions about grazing plans, horsemanship, branding and everything in between. 


Beyond the Classroom

My field of study helped me to land my current job as the social media coordinator at Country Natural Beef. I originally had attended an information session with one of their partners, Beef Northwest Feeders and inquired about an internship with them. After a conversation with their HR coordinator, it was clear to me that none of the internship descriptions really felt like the right fit to me. I stayed in contact with the company HR department and was surprised last summer when I was offered a Social Media Internship with Country Natural Beef. In September, I started my internship at the North Powder office and was hired on as a social media coordinator in January. I love having the opportunity to connect people with where their beef is coming from. 

What opportunities have you found to gain hands-on experience through the College of Ag Sciences, and how did you find them? How important was/is that experience in your overall education/professional experience? 

One of the most valuable hands-on experience opportunities I've had, is field trips! Last year, my Animal Science class of 12 students go to tour the Grande Ronde Dairy in Union, OR. The dairy is home to about 1,400 cross bred dairy goats and one of the only carousel milking systems this side of the Mississippi. Getting the hands on experience of watching the goats load the milker, ultra-sounding, constructing the total mixed ration and getting to taste the end product made this experience on I will not soon forget. Another field trip we took this year was to some of the pasture ground for the EOARC. On this trip, my class got to sample soil from two different spots: forestland and grassland, before heading to the research station to get a cropland sample. On this field trip we learned how to collect the soil and the importance and relevance that soil testing has. We used these samples all throughout the term in our soils labs, allowing us to really invest in what we were doing and how it could be used on our own operations. 

Building a Future of Connections

In five years, I hope to be telling, and living the story of agriculture. While I know this sounds a bit ambiguous, it is the best way to describe where I want to be. I love building personal and valuable relationships with people. I really enjoy having the opportunity to connect people with where their food is coming from, and to the real people who are producing it. I also hope to be connecting youth to agriculture and finding ways for them to foster relationships with producers. 

A Season of Isolation

It comes as no surprise that starting college in a pandemic was a bit of a challenge. My freshman year of college was spent working on school, going home to my parents and maybe attending a social event once a month. As the weather shifted to winter, the seasonal depression hit hard. I was miles from home, in an unfamiliar place and only knew half a dozen people, a huge jump from the previous year as a state officer. I knew I wasn't the only one feeling this way and saw my roommate slipping into the same patterns. This was a really difficult time and made adjusting to life at college much harder. In the end we were both lucky to find good friends and collectively we all came out of that place better than before. I still have these same friends today and value their genuine, unconditional friendship. 

The Whim that Worked

One of the most defining moments of my life this far has been deciding to attend the OSU Ag and Natural Resources program at Eastern. After ending my term as a state officer I was ready to be closer to home and to my family. I had planned to attend OSU at the Corvallis campus and applied to the EOU Program on a whim. When it came time to start college, I decided I wanted to be somewhere smaller with a slower pace of life, and EOU was a perfect fit. In the Ag Program at EOU, I found an incredible group of friends that make me into the best version of myself and I could not be ore thankful for the decision to stay closer to home! 

Fail Forward

My first piece of advice would be to try everything! Attend the club meeting, take the class that's outside your comfort zone or sit in the front row. You only have to try it once. Find out what you like and dislike along the way! My second piece of advice would be to get comfortable with failure. Not failing classes but the little failures that happen every day. Often times these are small and teachable moments, fail forward.