Natalie Doelman – Winner, Best Essay

Natalie is a senior at Purdue University, majoring in agribusiness with a concentration in food marketing and certificate in public policy. She calls the beautiful Washington State home, where she grew up milking cows on her family’s dairy farm, surfing and hiking in God’s creation, and developing a love for American political history. Specifically, her interest lies in the American revolution and the foundational government (her Benjamin Franklin costume is still in her closet!). She is incredibly grateful to have been immersed in this eclectic assortment of interest areas. After graduating amid the COVID restrictions of 2020, she packed her bags and headed to Indiana for college.

Since coming to Purdue, Natalie has enjoyed studying the intersection of agriculture and politics through an economic lens. She has pursued internships in policy and economics, continued political advocacy, and, of course, remained steadfast in her earnest pursuit of constitutional and governmental knowledge through her time in college. In her free time, she enjoys reading, being outside, and spontaneous ice cream runs with her roommates.

Blending her interests in dairy and policy, Natalie plans on pursuing a career where she works to improve the public perception and economic viability of dairy and American agriculture through policy.

Click here to read Natalie’s Winning Essay!

Our Interview With Natalie

Was this the first time you entered the contest?
Yes! This is my first time entering the contest.

How did you hear about the contest?
I heard about the contest through a scholarship database.

What inspired your work?
I grew up as a political minority in my school, which forced collaboration with people bearing an adverse political opinion as mine. Through history classes, government classes, and extracurricular activities, I grew to appreciate political discourse, and I believe that our differences made our bond stronger. I think the classroom was a microcosm of society, and difference of opinion and thought should be celebrated.

What did you learn while creating your entry?
While writing this essay, I learned how much I valued the diversity in my life. Prior, I had not taken too much time to reflect on this.

How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
I bring the Constitution up in conversation an abnormal amount. I believe that the best way to educate on the Constitution is to naturally integrate it into daily conversation. I am also the treasurer of my school’s Young Americans for Freedom, and plan to educate in a more traditional manner this way.

How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
Generally, my friends respond positively to talking about the Constitution. I have great conversations with my friends about the reasoning behind and implication of different rights outlined in the Constitution and subsequent amendments.

What do you love about U.S History and the forming of our government?
I love the idea that these men build a government from scratch, drawing from the mistakes of prior empires to create a withstanding nation. I love that America is unique from any other prior culture. We have a history of fierce independence, earnest innovation, and staunch morals, which are demonstrated by our past.

Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
I would like to visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia to be inspired by the radical founders and soak in some patriotic spirit.

Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?
Thomas Jefferson is the most influential and inspirational American historical figure to me because of his zeal for American rural communities. He used his agrarian background and his love for classical studies to form trade and domestic policy. He was a staunch advocate for education for all children, including girls. His writings on freedom and equality continue to inspire students generations later. I strive to have his eloquence of writing and ardent commitment to sound policy.

Who is your greatest role model?
My greatest role models are my parents. I feel incredibly blessed to call such loving and resilient people mom and dad. Dairy farming is not easy, but their continuous perseverance and faith set an example of a strong worth ethic. My mom and dad are really my rocks and I hope to be as caring and steadfast when I become a parent.

What in your life are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about agricultural advocacy. I believe there is a gap between farmers and consumers greater than ever before, and I want to bring people closer to where their food comes from. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and misconception around American agriculture. This disconnect can be mitigated through collaborative advocacy and farm-to-fork education for all segments of consumers from school kids to adults. Agricultural and food literacy is necessary to ensure food security, and it is worth fighting for.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time reading or doing anything outside! I enjoy classic literature and exploring God’s creation wherever I can. Studies and internships have taken me all over the United States, and I love hiking and paddleboarding wherever I’m at—I have a goal of visiting every National Park!

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to graduate from Purdue in December. My career goal is to promote and improve the economic viability of American agriculture.

If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
I would work toward building stable economies in nations experiencing war or famine. Hopefully, this would mitigate political corruption and status-quo humanitarian aid, so these nations can work toward development instead of struggling for survival.

Why is the Constitution relevant today?
While the Constitution is certainly a breathing document, it is also withstanding. The rights outlined in the Constitution and amendments are meant to hold true through the ages. It is important to understand our rights as Americans in case they are ever in question.

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