Agriculture finds voice in teen
At 15 years old, Madison Dobbins juggles her first year at Warsaw Community High School, FFA and friends, all while being a voice and an advocate for the agricultural industry. Her concern for the future of agriculture began at a cattle show when a flyer was given to her by an animal rights activist group. While researching the group, she found out how harmful these activists are to agriculture.
This was three days before her 4-H vet science poster was due. Dobbins decided to do an action demonstration and discuss how animal rights groups are negatively affecting agriculture. She left such an impression during judging that the people who heard her speech started telling others about the issue.
Soon, Dobbins was getting calls from all over Indiana to present her speech.
Dobbins is also creator of a Facebook page called “Farmers With Pitchforks,” which gives an outlet for others to talk about agriculture, positively or negatively.
“One thing that has definitely kept me going are the comments people leave,” she says. “People I’ve never met are saying they’re so proud of me, and that really means the world to me.”
Her mother, Aletha, says they take negativity with a grain of salt. “We knew there were going to be some people on the other side of the fence bashing the facts,” her mother says.
“Groups like the Humane Society of the United States may have $120 million, but we can make sure agriculture has 120 million voices,” Madison Dobbins says.
This passion led her to develop a special livestock show to educate legislators. The 2010 Kosciusko County 4-H Legislative Beef Show was held July 11. Six Indiana lawmakers participated. County 4-H’ers educated them about livestock production. Participants even demonstrated what they learned by showing a beef animal.
“I’ve learned about organizations like HSUS and PETA, and how they’re working to end livestock shows,” Dobbins says. “Most lawmakers don’t have experience with livestock, and my goal is to help them understand our side.”
Dobbins hasn’t yet decided if there will be another legislative beef show.
“I’m always up for the challenge, but I know I can’t do it alone,” she says. “If it were to happen again, it would only be with local legislators. I want the locals to see all the hard work and effort we put into our animals.”
Since the show, she’s working on her speeches, dedicating time to Facebook and continuing to promote agriculture.
“I got the opportunity to eat dinner with Gov. Mitch Daniels, and spoke to the Wabash County Farm Bureau,” she concludes.
May is a senior in Purdue University ag communications.