Hayley Thompson is looking to make a career out of increasing agriculture literacy among the general public.
Thompson, 20, of Ludlow, is a sophomore at University of Missouri - Columbia where she is studying agribusiness and plant science. She spent four years in FFA while attending high school in Livingston County, traveling to state competitions all four years in public speaking. That commitment paid off in December when Thompson was chosen, along with William Inglish, 19, of Moniteau County, to serve as Missouri Farm Bureau ambassadors for 2013.
“I come from a rural background, and my father was an adult ag instructor for years,” Thompson said. “Both my parents were raised on farms, so it is kind of in our blood.”
As a student at MU, Thompson said she is constantly surprised by the “misconceptions” held by some members of the public regarding large-scale farm operations, agricultural processes and food safety.
“People have this idea that our food isn’t safe, that they need to go all organic and stay away from (genetically modified foods),” Thompson said. “What we are doing is making it much more efficient. Today, one farmer can feed 150 people — 50 years ago we couldn’t do that.”
She pointed to bio-engineered plants such as golden rice, which have been modified to produce beta-carotene enriched foods in countries that suffer from a lack of dietary Vitamin A.
“Products like golden rice are helping other countries,” Thompson said. “These are innovations that people need to be aware of and understand.”