I’m Clay Greene and I am excited to be a fellow of VALOR Class VI. As I sit in the seat of my combine making pass after pass across this 40 acre field, I am pondering the question, “What is agriculture to me?” To put it simply, it has been my whole life. I am at least a 7th generation agriculturist on my dad’s side of the family and I have spent almost my entire life on my family’s farm.
The first story I can remember being told about me on the farm is when I was about one month old. My parents were driving fence posts and I was sitting in a car seat in the tractor when my Grandma Greene came over to visit. My dad got a very stern talking to because my head would bounce every time the driver struck the fence post. From then on, my journey into agriculture is full of fond memories. From playing in the hog pens and getting so filthy I had to be sprayed down with a garden hose to the late night Dad came home with a hydrostatic Cub Cadet for my “first tractor,” the farm has completely consumed my life.
As I got older, I had more responsibilities including field work and cattle. I found out very quickly that I had a talent for breaking things. Having to learn how to fix what I broke led to me attending our local vocational school for diesel technology and continuing my education at the University of Northwestern Ohio where I graduated with dual degrees in Agriculture Technology and Diesel Technology. As it turns out, I also have a knack for fixing things too!
After college, I returned to the farm where I continue to help with the beef cattle and growing cash crops. I expanded an existing custom hay making enterprise and started my own custom harvesting business. In recent years, we have also started selling hay and forage supplies across the state of Virginia.
Enough about my history and back to my question. For me, agriculture has been more than a job or a way of life. It is a legacy and a tradition passed down to me by my family for over 150 years. This legacy is one worth continuing, not just for those of us lucky enough to be in agriculture, but also for those that survive off what we produce. With the world population growing and the number of agriculturalists shrinking, we must do our best to produce abundant and safe commodities.
I look forward to the next two years in VALOR to broaden my horizons and help me develop better leadership abilities. I hope this experience will better equip me to take on a larger role in my state and country’s agricultural systems to ensure the American farmer has a place and say in today’s changing world.