2013 WNAAA Scholarship Winner: First Place

The Role Ag Aviation Has Played in Shaping My Life

Author:  By Candice Bruton
As a child, I woke up nearly every morning to the sound of my dad buzzing the house and the hum of the turbine taking off and landing. I grew up loving this sound and quickly learned that the smell of burning jet fuel was golden. Agricultural aviators do not work when they want, it is not an eight to five occupation, nor shift work; they must work when there is work to be done. This set the foundation of my life. Rather than debating on what my life, future and career may hold, I use many of my life lessons from the agricultural aviation field and do my best to take advantage of the opportunities God has laid before me. This view developed as the agricultural aviation world shaped me into who I am today. 
While many other children had their parents at every school event, sporting game or milestone party, my father worked with the farming season. This simply meant that from the time the farming season began until harvest was complete, Dad worked daylight to dark. If weather or circumstances allowed, there was no doubt he would be around, but the majority of the time, if we wanted to see him, we had to go to the airport. I could have sulked in the fact that my father was not around shortly after school hours and with me every weekend. Rather, I learned there is more to life than a schedule. One must be focused yet flexible to change. If life does not abide by the way society has portrayed it, we take the advantage of the positive and run with it. During the early summer years, my vacations consisted of picnics at the airport and taxiing into the hanger with my dad. During winter and offseason, we helped prepare for the upcoming season, but Dad always made special family time. Having a father devoted to his career, passionate about what he did, and still balancing family life gave me a glimpse at the type of businesswoman, lady and person I hoped to be some day. 
I quickly took notes on what it meant to work in the agricultural aviation field and decided I wanted to assist in the business. As a crop duster’s daughter, my first job was secretary help. I did simple tasks: dusting, vacuuming and making lunch for the crew. These were minor duties, but I learned that presentation and small details always were noticed. As I got older, I learned the task of making maps and orders, and gained personal relationships with our customers. 
My office teacher was my mother who controls company books. She is a remarkable businesswoman and known for not only her secretary role but for her ability to mix chemical, drive loader trucks and balance communication between pilots, ground crew, chemical companies and farmers. As I have grown up and watched each of her traits, they have demonstrated to me how one must be well-rounded and balanced. It takes a team to run a successful business, yet one must know all areas of the occupation to be prepared for the times you will have to make up for the slack. Furthermore, my mother displayed to me that no career or business is worth losing your morals or ethics over. Honesty will achieve you more than a fake face. 
My time in the office gave me personal insight into the drive, devotion, intelligence and talent that agricultural aviation pilots and team members must have. Again, I took these skills and lessons to heart. During the bumps of my high school years, I often wanted to settle for lower dreams. However, I often thought of the many agricultural aviators I knew, who have devoted 350+ hours to commercial training prior to beginning their true career. I remembered the pilots who put in 700+ hours a season because they love what they do, and I knew that dreams are not achieved easily. 
As my college career began, my agricultural aviation background was instilled in me. I carried the values and morals with me as I searched for a career that would allow me to give back to the rural community I grew up in and would allow me to work close to my family. I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist. This career would allow me to give back to the community I love, be close to my family and do something I would love doing. Like high school, I do not think I would survive college if the agricultural aviation field had not helped prepare me or be able to compete against other pre-physical therapy students. As an incoming freshman, I learned a competitive physical therapy candidate needed a 3.7–3.8 GPA, about 150–300 observational hours and to be active in the community. I was determined to be successful, but was afraid I did not have what it takes. No one in my family had ever gone to an elite university. But as my parents and agricultural aviation have taught me, dreams are not easily achieved, so I took on the challenge. I knew from my agricultural aviation background that one must take chances to be successful.
Like agricultural aviators, successful college students sometimes work daylight to dark, whenever the work needs to be done. Crosswinds do not detour me from obtaining and achieving my final goal. There will be days when I do not always agree with students or all of my professors, but like the customer, they are always right. My talents and skills improve with every load I carry and every hour I put in. I do my best to map out my life, as I know it is important to know your surroundings and prepare to overcome the obstacles. As intelligent and talented as I may be, it is impossible to do any job alone, yet you must be well-rounded to prepare for days when all team members are not around. Most importantly, at the end of the day, what truly matters is that I gave my best at all I did and I am alive to grow and improve tomorrow. These beliefs are at my core and help me through each day, class and semester. As I am ending my undergrad career and beginning physical therapy school, I know I will need the lessons and skills taught from the agricultural aviation field more than ever. 
As I look at my life lesson and journeys it has held, there is no doubt agricultural aviation has shaped me into who I am today. Growing up, our family lived, breathed and dreamt of agricultural aviation. It simply is part of who I am. The skills, wisdom and knowledge it has given me are part of my core foundation. They are what have instilled my most valued ethics, morals and knowledge. Many agricultural aviators and team members have been role models, and I hope to one day make as positive and strong an impact on the world and my community as the agricultural aviation field has made on me. ♦
Candice Bruton is the daughter of Paul and Patricia Bruton, owners and operators of TradeWind Ag Service. She is currently a senior at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Candice is pursuing a degree in health science studies and upon completing undergraduate plans to obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Throughout her college career she has been active in several clubs and participated in numerous community events while holding a 3.9 cumulative GPA and working on obtaining her private pilot certificate.