What’s your flavor?

I believe people are like coffee, just like each flavor has its own unique taste and aroma, each person no matter how similar they may seem is unique in their own way. Personally, I like to switch flavors, one day it may be a skinny caramel macchiato, another a dark Columbian roast, the next a smooth white chocolate mocha! I can always turn to coffee in almost any situation, yet as I quickly found out on my arrival, not everyone is so quick to relate.

When I first arrived in the small town of El Dorado I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the teammates I had yet to meet. I knew very little about them other than the fact that we were all coming from Ag backgrounds and just like when people tell me coffee is coffee, I was having none of the usual “an Ag kid is an Ag kid” talk! And boy was I right! I proceeded to meet my 26 very different teammates who clearly showcase the definition of diversity within the world of Ag. My teammates and I span across 15 different states most of which I’ve never even visited.

Growing up in Washington state I had very little to do with agriculture by choice, my family has always been involved in the world of Ag, however as a youngster I wanted little to do with any of it! I would have much rather have been doing a number of things I still find embarrassing to admit to this day, yet as I got older I began to appreciate my background a lot more. In high school I became an active member in the Medical Lake FFA chapter competing in just about every contest my chapter had to offer, stopping of course at Meats Judging! You may be wondering how Riley Shines, of Medical Lake, WA ended up out west! Honestly sometimes I have to ask myself the same question, although I really enjoyed Livestock Judging I didn’t start seeing results of my hard work until my junior year and once I did I realized I wanted to continue. Now while I will probably never be able to pin point why or how exactly I made my decision, I do know I’m glad I did!

I’ve had a blast since I’ve gotten here and have learned and am continuing to learn a bunch from my teammates and believe it or not have actually been able to teach them a thing or two, well sort of! Apparently being from Washington I don’t have a funny accent! However, this lesson came with a price, I found it’s not polite to ask your new teammates “if you sound as funny to them as they do to you”. I also discovered you can’t turn left on red lights in Kansas, that Maryland is NOT in the far north-east corner of the country, and that for my teammates BEEF is usually whats for dinner (:

The differences between my teammates and I are quite obvious, yet, the similarities are there as well. We may come from different places, but judging still remains within our hearts. I’ve only been in Kansas a few months and already the state, and my team have found a place in my heart that can never be forgotten and while I shall never be the same, I’m also certain that I will always be the coffee ecstatic, slightly eccentric Washingtonian who first arrived in El Dorado.

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