Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Odessa R. Oldham
Student, Ranch Partner/Manager, and Native American Youth Agriculture Summit Camp Director

Lander, Wyoming
Farm Credit Affiliation
Farm Credit Services of America
Odessa's Perspective

A proud member of the Navajo Nation, Odessa Oldham started her own agriculture operation with an FSA youth loan, and has since grown it into a 600-head sheep and cattle partnership with her brother.

Odessa was the first tribally recognized candidate for a national FFA office and has served as a champion for the organization, helping to establish several FFA chapters throughout Indian Country.

“In my travels, I’ve seen a disconnect that youth have from culture and agriculture. I will change that, like my family inspired me to embrace my heritage, education and agriculture,” Odessa says. “Youth inspire me. They are the leaders of tomorrow and will learn and move forward from what we leave behind.”

Odessa witnessed firsthand the need for a leadership training opportunity available to Native youth interested in agriculture and food production. This inspired her to attend the NativeYouth in Food & Agriculture Leadership Summit, a nine-day event hosted at the University of Arkansas School of Law. This comprehensive educational experience incorporates classroom and experiential learning centered around food system sustainability, while engaging intertribal youth representatives in culture-sharing activities and leadership development. Odessa has since served as a Native American Youth Agriculture Summit Camp Director.

“I strongly believe in being an example, and with that I hope to have a successful cattle, sheep and horse operation in Wyoming. I want to be successful financially, but more so offer educational insight,” she says. She plans an operation that also offers internships for college students, learning experiences for 4-H and FFA members, and community experiences. “The operation will become a positive example of what agricultural producers offer. I want to show Native youth that it doesn’t matter where they came from, they can achieve their goals,” she says.

Of the future, Odessa envisions more recognition for the important role agriculture plays in society, saying, “No matter what the consumer has asked for, agriculture has provided. From vegetarians, to vegans, to meat eaters, it does not matter, agriculture provides. With social media and technology, agriculture is able to show how important this industry is.”

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