Ph.D. Candidate, Mississippi State University
Executive Assistant, Agricultural History Society
What brought you to the Agricultural History Society?
Growing up in south-central Indiana, I always had an interest in agricultural history and rural landscapes. While working on a dairy farm throughout high school, I became intrigued by the prolonged and often challenging process of maintaining a family farm in modern society. Nearly all of the farmers I came to know spoke of long-standing farming practices and family traditions which were, of course, shaped by unique historical forces. Our nation’s highly romanticized notions of farming and rural life, moreover, piqued my interest and ultimately framed the types of questions I wanted to ask. I became a member of the Agricultural History Society at the 2012 Annual Meeting in Manhattan, Kansas, where members not only presented cutting-edge research, but also proved to be generous, welcoming, and supportive. Since my introduction in 2012, the Society has grown exponentially and continues to foster a dynamic and energetic community of scholars.
What are you working on?
Although I am responsible for processing and maintaining memberships for the AHS, I am also busy completing my dissertation on the cultural history of the American Alligator. A sizeable portion of my project examines alligator farms and ecotourism in the twentieth-century Deep South and Florida. Through this research, I hope to push the boundaries of agricultural history beyond the more traditional narratives of “cows and plows” and “fields and fences.” Alligator farms also allow us to consider the degree to which this iconic reptile can be transformed into a semi-domestic species. In other words, I hope to understand how alligators’ behavior and physiology change once placed in an enclosure and subjected to an organized and controlled structure. In this highly managed context, I argue, alligators occupy a murky area between wild and domestic—between agriculture and environment.
What are the benefits of membership in the Society?
The Agricultural History Society provides a number of benefits for scholars with diverse research interests. Members not only can receive print copies of Agricultural History, but can also access past issues of the journal online. In addition, the AHS executive committee works tirelessly to serve its members and, to be sure, chooses exciting and attractive sites for our annual conference. During the past few years, our members have traveled to the Central Plains, the Canadian Rockies, and the Utah Valley. The workshops, symposiums, and peer support have proven invaluable to my research interests. In short, membership in the Agricultural History Society can be of great service to scholars of nearly any discipline or career level.