North Missouri will always be my home; the place of my childhood and where I would be happy to one day reside, after I follow my dreams of course. I view north Missouri as cattle and crop country, which is everything that engrossed my youth. Driving the back roads, you can’t count the number of crop fields on one hand, nor can you count the number of cattle herds. On a warm spring day, I may have seen my neighbor planting corn, but the next day I would probably have seen him moving cows. The two industries went hand in hand in my mind.

This image of north Missouri was how I viewed the entire state of Missouri, until yesterday. When I moved to Springfield to attend Missouri State University I heard stories, or what I considered jokes, about how farmers in southwest Missouri were “rock farmers.” This couldn’t possibly be true, because in my image of Missouri, everyone farms crops, generally corn, wheat and soybeans. Needless to say, this changed when I had the chance to travel to Branson down 65 Highway. Looking out my windows I didn’t see cattle. I didn’t see corn stalks remaining from last year’s crop. I felt as if I was driving through Tennessee, not my home state of Missouri. I saw hills, rocks, and trees, lots and lots of hills, rocks and trees. The Ozarks of Missouri actually exist, and to my dismay, they look nothing like my vision of Missouri.

Missourians seem to be at an advantage, maybe we do not need to travel to a different country or even a different state to see the diversity of our world. I had always had one image of Missouri, but in a short 30 minute drive that image was blurred. It is now clear that as our state is diverse in its production, it is also diverse in its landscapes.

How do you view Missouri, or your home state? Has that image ever changed?