The road you are on doesn’t always lead to where you’ll be.
“I think that that’s not fair and that is the stigma I’m passionate about ending,” Gracee Poorman said.
Poorman never had a background in agriculture, or farming, or pigs. But, here she is.
She’s the manager of Swine Operations for Ohio State’s College of Agriculture. At the facility in Dublin, she’s in charge of breeding and farrowing hundreds of pigs a year used for teaching and research.
It’s a career that started down the road of necessity.
“My passion started with animals and having to have a job,” she said.
It was a detour from her original path.
“My childhood was probably one that many children in Ohio and all over experience,” Poorman said.
At an early age, it was all she knew.
“Both of my parents struggled with addiction throughout my life,” she said.
Her road was lined with crumbling bricks held loosely together with unforgiving mortar.
“My mother got so bad into drugs where the fridge and the carpet were sold out of our house,” she said. “I mean, I slept on a cement floor.”
Off and on she’d live with her father. At other times, she’d stay with different friends and families.
Eventually, under her mother’s name, Poorman got her own place. It’s important for her to stop here and make clear a difficult point to understand for many.
“I knew my parents loved me and I knew that they wanted more for themselves but what they were battling was bigger than them,” she said.
Ten years ago that battle led to a phone call, then hope and then heartbreak.
“She was on life support at that time and she actually came out of it,” Poorman said of her mother. “Then, not that much longer later, we got the call again.”
Three months after walking away from life support, Poorman’s mother passed away after overdosing on cocaine and opiates.
It was when Poorman lived by herself that she took a different route. She found work at a local farm that introduced her to the swine industry.
A new road far from the familiar path of childhood hardships due to addiction.
“So, it’s very hard for kids that grow up in that environment to take that lonely path and to separate themselves from the situations that they’re around,” she said.
Poorman is not the victim. She’s the victor. She loves her job and what she’s a part of. In her career, she’s cared for hundreds of thousands of pigs. She’s also married and has two children.
She speaks to students at schools while sharing her story and her message that the road you’re on doesn’t always lead to where you’ll be.
For more information on opiate abuse and how to protect your family, please visit dontliveindenial.org.