Growing up on a farm teaches all sorts of lessons. You’ll learn how to fix what is broken, flex to uncertainty, make the most of your resources, and learn from failure. Logan Smith, VCHS Class of ’22, has bagged all of that and more. He’s learned the value of hard work, how to make the most of his opportunities, and what it means to be part of a family.
This farm has been in his family for four generations. It is quite literally in his blood, and this lineage is important to him. Logan and his older brother want to see the farm continue to thrive and continue to stay in the family.
There’s been lots of family support all along the way for Logan. He grew up watching his dad and older brother fix just about anything you could imagine. Year after year, he watched them make all kinds of repairs and solve all kinds of problems, sometimes with nothing more than a little mechanical instinct, a bit of creativity, and a welder’s torch. It was that torch that captured Logan’s imagination. So much so, that he’s headed to American Welding Academy in Union, Missouri this Fall with designs on becoming a boilermaker or pipe-fitter. He was bitten by the Rocky Mountain bug on a hunting trip to Montana where he harvested an elk, and he says he could easily see himself working on a pipeline or other long-term construction project there once he pays his dues.
Even as Logan casts his gaze westward toward the mountains, he remains ever loyal to ‘The Van,’ and fully intends to honor those roots. Friendship is important to him, and this place where he grew up is the wellspring of every relationship that matters. He tells me of the important conversations he’s had, over the years, with teachers who always seemed to see something in him that he often struggled to see in himself. He speaks with palpable gratitude for their encouragement to make the most of his academic opportunities. He tells me about the wisdom of his grandfather, whom he lost during his Freshman year, and how it was him who pushed Logan to get into FFA, where he ultimately served as Chapter President during his Senior year.
Logan Smith is an impressive young man; one who will make this community proud, but what connected most powerfully for me was his honest recognition of the value of failure as a learning lever. He shared with me an obviously painful episode from his early FFA livestock showing days, when he placed 250th out of 300. His local peers were landing in the 20th to 25th positions. He was mortified. But he used the moment, as any good farmer will, to harvest something of worth— if only a lesson. He realized that he’d come to see his own animals as paragons of perfection and not objective exhibits, with notable flaws and strengths. It didn’t take him long to realize he’d have to recalibrate his approach if he was going to be successful, which is exactly what he did. Because that’s what everyone in his entire backstory had prepared him to do. As our interview came to a close, I offered him a metaphorical magic wand and asked him how he’d use it. His eyes glance off; he’s not so much answering me now, but as he forms the words, it’s clear he’s wishing it for himself. “I’d love to have another conversation with my grandpa. That’s how I’d use that magic wand.”
As Logan bid me farewell, I couldn’t help but think that, somewhere, looking down upon a farm in Fayette County, there’s a very proud grandpa.