Senior high school student and businesswoman Lily Roadcap was chosen to attend Ag Promise in the nation’s capital. Roadcap advocates for and teaches about the role of producers in the food chain.

Teenager Lily Roadcap is all in, uncovering even more ways to educate folks about where their food comes from, and a recent trip to the nation’s capital veered Roadcap into the path of power brokers in the U.S. Congress.

The National Young Farmer Educational Association, a group for educating agricultural leaders, hosted Agriculture’s Promise, a youth leadership, and Shelby County Cooperative Extension asked Roadcap to represent the state and Shelby County in the nation’s capital.

The tagline for Ag Promise is A Forum for the Next Generation.

“I was on vacation in Florida,” Roadcap said. “I was on the beach and got a call from the local extension office. They offered it to me.”

Way paid

Perhaps in a pay-it-forward moment, an anonymous benefactor made the trip possible for Roadcap and her mother. Roadcap, 17, and a Collins High School senior, traveled with her mom, Lisa, and Rusty Tipton, president-elect of NYFEA and Shelby Countian.


Roadcap finds educating others about the industry she loves, fun and worthwhile.

And she is already a businesswoman. She grows produce on two acres and sets up booths at farmer’s markets and pop-up events under her business name LilyBud Farm Produce near Peytona. She uses her produce stand to get money to put back into the business and also likes to speak with buyers about the origin of food. “I want people to know where food comes from,” she said.

The teen also shows dairy cattle. “When the little ones come up, and the adults, I explain where food comes from.”

Roadcap employs social media to help educate the public and advocate for producers.


Roadcap said attending the three-day Ag Promise conference meant being with like-minded young people.

“I met other people interested in agriculture and awareness,” the Collins teen said.

Attendees split into groups to create talking points to be presented to a member of Congress. In this case, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“People were from all over, mostly college students,” she said. “I enjoyed the conference itself. It was fun and I met nice kids with the same interest as me — to advocate for agriculture. It was nice to hear their experiences and what they do to advocate for agriculture.”

Tipton said D.C. is fast paced and he enjoyed engaging with youth leaders from many places, including Iowa State, Auburn, Clemson, Louisiana State, and South Carolina and Alabama high schools. He was impressed with their knowledge and engagement.

Roadcap did her county and state proud at the conference.

“I’m very pleased, in awe of how intelligent and in tune young people in ag are today,” Tipton said. “They’re top notch. Lily is a high school senior with such passion and distinction.”


Although Roadcap didn’t get special behind-the-scenes access, she toured the Capitol.

Her favorite part of the trip was touring the National Mall and speaking with Sen. Paul’s staff.

She visited Paul’s office in the Stinnett Office Building to present topics for congressional consideration.

Roadcap wasn’t able to meet with Paul, as he was in session, but his staff met with the teenager and listened to the most meaningful topics to Kentucky producers.

“We didn’t get to see Senator Paul, but his staff was encouraging and nice,” she said. “They took notes. It was very nice, and they said they would pass on these topics to their boss.

Five topics

Each group created five talking points, things that youth within the group were passionate about.

“We advocated for five topics to encourage support and expansion of ag education for youth and adults,” the teenager said. “There are things each person in the group cared about, important to their region of the country. This is a leadership conference for advocacy and training, to get folks who want to farm or maybe be involved in ag in some way. We need folks to understand what’s happening in ag today, and what could happen in future.”

Only two% of the U.S. population grow crops, produce or animals. “They just go to Kroger and pick up a loaf of bread. They don’t understand the process. We feed the world. The general public don’t realize that.”

Key points

Access to resources, improving agriculture and government relationships, smart climate legislation, addressing food insecurity through schools, and bio-security, ways to keep animals health are Roadcap’s key topics.


More and easier access to resources for farmers to be financially successful ranks high on the list. Young farm leaders want development programs, access to the export market, emphasis on new and global trade markets, access to mental and physical health, and producer profitability is key, especially during a volatile economy. “We need support to keep prices affordable,” the teenager said.


Roadcap wants to increase government relations to support and promote an understanding between land owners/producers and governments to avoid actions that hinder success.

Create “climate-smart” laws to help agricultural producers, she said.

Food insecurity

One path to producer success is to help communities with food insecurity.

Roadcap and her group want local school districts to source food from local producers to feed students. Shelby County Public Schools’ food service is working to do just that, as reported at the March 9 regular school board meeting.

“This will grow a better connection between producers and schools as a way to educate about food origin and nutrition,” she said. “Our schools should be supporting local farmers, getting food from us and putting it in lunches and breakfast. This connection can spark interest with younger kids, and it also gives back to the local community.”

Healthier animals

Ag bio-security is key to producing health animals. Funding efforts to further research and improve production and to fight animal disease is important, “especially in poultry,” Roadcap said.

Bright future

As proof that Roadcap wants to keep farmers farming, she wants to expand her own business, LilyBud. “I want to expand the business and open a store with fruit, vegetables, soups, salads, and sandwiches made locally,” she said.

That will have to wait. Roadcap will attend Kentucky State and major in ag business.

Tipton wants to advocate for more young farming leaders to get into producing and to attend this conference. Tipton was approached to run for president at age 64. “And I got elected,” he said, as president of NYFEA. This is his second time as president.

The group’s website is nyfea.com, and Tipton said young farmers can email him at rpipdairy@yahoo.com if interested. “I have been involved in adult ag education and started in the 1980s in the local association — Kentucky Young Farmer Association. I became involved nationally in 1996,” Tipton said.

Ag Promise unfolded at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The next Ag Promise event is in College Station, Texas.