Emma Harvey: Raising Awareness For Agriculture’s Most Vulnerable

By 0 Comment

Those engaged in agriculture are united by a common love of the land, animals and lifestyle. Yet, something unique sets each youth in agriculture apart from their peers. What makes Emma Harvey unique is her patriotic spirit that established her passion as an advocate for farmers’ mental health. Emma is committed to using each platform she earns as an opportunity to raise awareness for agriculture’s most vulnerable. 

Emma was born at Camp LeJune while her father was serving as a Marine officer. At a young age she came “home” to northeast Missouri to grow up on the family farm. Her first-hand perspective on mental health has developed from watching her veteran dad experience the effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

“I have a personal connection to the importance of farmers’ mental health,” Emma shares. “Farmers go through tons of stress. Since farming is a male dominated occupation, it often gets overlooked because many people don’t recognize it or may view the stress as weakness. There has been a lack of communication in agriculture that has caused farmer suicide to be overlooked. It really hits home for me.”

Emma translates her sympathy and patriotism into service. As a proficient trumpet player, Emma plays “Taps” for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day celebrations and is frequently invited by the local VFW to present “Taps” at military funerals. 

It is hard to tell, but Emma was a shy freshman when she joined Missouri FFA. “I attended FFA Camp that first summer and my FFA Advisor made me participate in a speech contest. It was the gateway to all I have accomplished. I thank my advisor, Waltedda Blessing, for making me put my foot in the ‘public speaking door’,” Emma says. Emma has utilized platforms with confidence throughout her high school career to share her meaningful message about farmer suicide awareness. “Today I am so outgoing it is almost embarrassing,” Emma shares with a laugh. 

Emma enjoys helping her father and grandparents on the family farm with their South Devon and Simmental beef cattle, so it wasn’t unreasonable when her best friend Elsie encouraged her to apply to become the 2023 Missouri Beef Queen. Emma was intimidated as the youngest competitor in the contest against experienced peers. She was excited to communicate her willingness to learn through her interview and she shared her heart for addressing farmer suicide and mental health during her speech. During her 2023 reign, Emma worked alongside the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, met Governor Parson, Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, numerous legislators, and traveled across the state meeting people of all ages.

Emma’s Beef Queen platform provided an additional opportunity for her to advocate for farmers’ mental health. She was interviewed by podcaster and beef advocate, Amanda Radke, at the 2023 Missouri Beef Days. She presented to local Lions and Rotary clubs and spoke at the banquet of the North American South Devon Association. Her favorite experience was speaking with consumers about beef. “I was waiting in line at the Beef House at the Missouri State Fair with a family that didn’t know anything about agriculture, and they were thrilled that I would share my beef story with them,” Emma said. “There is too much misinformation about agriculture. My goal is to help correct it.”

Emma developed an enthusiasm for policy through her Missouri Beef Queen experience. As a long-term goal, Emma wants to advocate for agriculture through politics; for now she is involved in local town hall meetings where she watches, listens, and learns about local government. She helped to form her local Junior Fair Board Association and serves as its president. She is advocating through pageantry as Scotland County’s Miss United States Agriculture. If she is selected to serve at the state or national level with that platform, she will continue to raise awareness about farmer suicide and mental health.

Emma’s favorite high school activity was the FFA Trapshooting Team. She also played in the school band and was a member of the Marching Band Color Guard. She has been active in the National Honor Society, FCCLA, the basketball team and student council. Through her FFA Beef-Placement Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) she has been building her own herd of beef cows. 

Emma is excited to graduate from Scotland County R-1 High School on May 20. She will attend Northwest Missouri State University this fall to continue her study of animal science and agricultural communications. She has been completing collegiate courses online so she can graduate early and plans to pursue a career as a livestock nutritionist focusing on beef cattle. 

Emma is a role model for her two younger brothers and sister. She is the daughter of Brandi Harvey and Brian and Ashley Harvey and the granddaughter of Don and Linda Harvey. The Harvey families are members of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and Missouri Farm Bureau which are partners of Missouri Farmers Care.