Lauren Neale started life as a city girl, born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but said she’s thoroughly converted to farm girl now and plans to spend the rest of her days telling agriculture’s story.

She now lives in McMinnville, Tennessee, with husband Ben and new son Corban, and is director of communications for the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association.

She studied journalism and anthropology at Iowa State University and took a communications internship with the Montana Stockgrowers Association in 2010. She spent that summer documenting their lives in videos and photos. It was her watershed.

“When that internship ended, I realized just how important agriculture was for everything we are able to do on this earth and I then set out to tell agriculture’s story as a job,” she said.

Young and unmarried when she graduated from college, Lauren Chase went to work full time for the Montana Stockgrowers, driving nearly 40,000 miles to collect enough striking photos for a coffee table book: Big Sky Boots: Working Seasons of a Montana Rancher. She also shot plenty of video and spread the word through multiple social media platforms.

Neale said she will always feel indebted to the former communications director of the Montana Stockgrowers, Adriel Overstreet-Adkins, whom Neale said took a chance on hiring that city girl both for the internship and later for the full-time media outreach specialist.

Neale thinks the future can be bright for agriculture because the industry is full of people stories.

“I believe that people will always enjoy stories about other people. It’s in our nature to want to relate to others,” she said.

“When consumers can relate the food they eat to the overall story of production by ‘knowing’ the people who produce it, I am convinced that they will have a harder time being against agriculture.”

What is the 40 under 40 award?

Farm Journal Media’s 40 Under 40 Awards recognize youngleaders in our industry who will be instrumental in meeting the2050 challenge. We are once again seeking the most innovativepeople in agriculture under the age of 40 – from animal and cropproduction, biotechnology and University researchers, to food andnutrition technology, agricultural equipment, agronomy and beyond.

Click here to learn more about nominating for the 2016 class.