For those of you affiliated with the Northfield Mount Hermon School (the college preparatory school that I hail from) the term "Hogger" is already clear. But for anyone who finds themselves following my blog, with no knowledge of NMH, it seems only fair to bring you up to speed as to why this blog is called "Hogger Goes West."
The "Hogger" is the mascot of NMH. Mt. Hermon school was originally a farm school for boys (and Northfield was a college preparatory school for girls and eventually the institutions combined), and folk lore suggests that people lovingly (or somewhat mockingly) referred to its community members as "The Hoggers" or "Hog Farmers."
To this day, NMH has an active farm program, producing maple syrup, lavender products, ice cream, raspberry jam, and many other farm products. Some of my favorite people on campus are connected to this educational farm facility. Most importantly, students still participate in farming on-site, learning the newest techniques in sustainable agriculture, raising barns as a community when necessary, and even sharing in the births of new animals in the barns on campus.
On a very personal level, I LOVE the Hogger. I love that our physical mascot is a pig, and that the pig is among the most intelligent animals in the animal kingdom. I love that the mascot of our school is a mascot symbolic of service and responsibility to others. I love that the folklore describes a tale of something that begin as slightly teasing and turned into a point of great pride for an entire community.
As I travel the heartland of America, I am particularly reminded of the mythology and complexity surrounding farming in America. I visited the Corn Palace today, in Mitchell, South Dakota, a shrine to corn production in the United States. By the end of day I was in the Badlands, in a region famously connected with Cowboys, Teddy Roosevelt, and the spirit of wilderness. As I drove in the afternoon, I listened to NPR discuss the most recent farm bill that failed to pass congress today. Bumper stickers from the very moment I left, have encouraged me to support agriculture in America. I am proudly a Hogger, and all the complex things that it entails.