Mark your calendar for February 20!

November 19, 2018Doug Peters, President and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Depending on who you ask, people will define me one of two ways – an “office guy who happens to love the outdoors,” or an “outdoors guy who happens to work in an office.”

Outdoors, for me, has a lot of different meaning. It could be hunting or fishing with my sons, or it could be camping with my family on a crisp fall weekend.

But you know, since arriving in West Texas three years ago, I’ve gained depth in my outdoor interests thanks to those who’ve allowed me to experience their way of life.

I’ve always been in awe of the American farmer. I have close, lifelong friends who supply American families with food, clothing and more. I enjoy a rural lifestyle – and it’s no secret that my youngest son Andy is an agriculture-focused high school junior at Jim Ned.

I casually mentioned to Andy over the weekend that I needed to sit down in my office at home and finish this article in time to get it to you this morning. He asked what I was writing about.

Assuming my answer would fall short of his understanding, I replied, “I’m writing an article to share with our members that we have a lady coming to speak who was diagnosed at the age of two as autistic, but has made a name for herself in the cattle industry.”

As I continued my trek through the living room, I was shocked when my high schooler replied, “ do you mean Temple Grandin?”

Hang on here one cotton-pickin’ minute.

How in the world has my kid ever heard of Temple Grandin, when I hadn’t until she was suggested as a speaker for the Chamber’s Agriculture Scholarship Luncheon, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2019?

I’ve read her bio, watched her “Ted Talks,” and was lobbied hard by Laurin on our staff, who grew up in the cattle industry. After all, I’m the outdoors guy. My friends are farmers and ranchers. I’m well-read and studied on this hugely important component of the West Texas economy. Or, so I thought.

“She popularized rounded corners,” Andy added, a design introduced for reducing anxiety in cattle being led to slaughter. Well Andy, you’re right.  “She sure did,” I said.

Still a little wigged out that this 16-year-old knew who this lady was, I was extra surprised when he asked if he could come hear her speak.

You’ll want to trust me on this – you’ll want to hear her speak, too.

If you’re not “up” on Temple Grandin, here’s a link to her BIO.  This remarkable woman didn’t speak her first words until she was four.  She earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in animal science and has had a number of critically-acclaimed books written about her and by her.

An outspoken and long-standing autism advocate, Grandin’s story is compelling.

I should probably also mention WHY we produce this luncheon.

This annual event is sponsored by Capital Farm Credit and has grown in popularity and importance each of the three years I’ve had the opportunity to attend.

We’ll introduce the Agriculture Family of the Year, sponsored by Taylor Electric Cooperative Inc., and enjoy the music of AISD’s own Revolution.

And as if that wasn’t enough, proceeds from this event, which will begin at 11:30 am at the Taylor County Expo Center in the Display Building, will be directed toward scholarships for area agriculture students.

I’d like to thank the incredible members of the Chamber’s Ag Committee for their hard work in pulling this great event together.

How could you go wrong? Andy and I hope you’ll join us for this sure-to-be sold out luncheon.


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