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Chosen, Challenged and Changed (Forever)

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May 19 was a peculiar morning. The air was sticky, and the sky was gray. It was my first day of work as a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture. Nervous is not a word I commonly use to describe myself, but the anxiety I felt about the summer ahead had my stomach doing somersaults.

Chosen: I had received a packet in the mail earlier in the month explaining the move-in and orientation process. Those papers held the names of the seven other scholars selected for the program. Based on their college email addresses, I knew they were from all over the nation: Pennsylvania, Idaho, South Carolina, Kansas and Texas. I like making new friends, and I wondered what I would have in common with this crew.

Looking back on this summer, I will admit that placing eight strangers from various walks of life in three offices can yield some interesting results. But it also yields wonderful ones. Much like the different colors in this sunrise, we all fused together to make something incredible.

Challenged: We didn't all suddenly become best friends. We disagreed on things; we questioned each other; and sometimes we even became frustrated. Group projects weren't always easy. However, we soon realized that the ability to work well with others despite differences is an invaluable trait that makes our work the best it can be.

We each thought we had the answers. Then, bam! A peer would throw a total curve ball. We each had different ways of doing things and even different agricultural perspectives due to our regional differences and past experiences. As an example, we quickly learned that ranching in Idaho is different than ranching in southern Oklahoma, which is different than ranching in northwest Tarrant County, Texas.

Changed: Nobody was wrong (or right). We're just different. Our lives have been molded and shaped by different experiences in different places, and we all took different paths to get here. I still don't share the exact same views as all of the other scholars, but I am ever thankful for the opportunity to work with such a diverse and exceptional group who pushed and challenged me on a daily basis. The things this group taught me are immeasurable. I know this is one more experience that has shaped and molded me. And changed me forever.

Morgan Hannabass is a 2014 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Indiahoma, Oklahoma.