I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
–-“For Good”, Wicked
I have been blessed to have many wonderful people in my life over the years. Through FFA, 4-H, NAMA and other groups, I’ve been surrounded by those who often share the same passions I do. It has been so wonderful to learn so much from them over the years.
This was no different when I became a part of the #agchat community. Over the past year, I have been so lucky to be a part of a group of people who are extremely passionate about agriculture and understand the value of sharing our agricultural stories through social media platforms. In my time with #agchat, I have met some of the most amazing farmers, ranchers, communicators and agribusinessmen (and women!) from coast-to-coast. They’ve had my back when we’ve run in to people who are against different parts of agriculture and they’ve made me laugh with only a 140-character post. The #agchat family has made me look differently at how we communicate and connect with people in a society growing ever-more dependent on technology.
This past Monday and Tuesday, I had the huge honor of being able to attend the first ever AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Chicago. This was a first-of-its-kind event–a social media training conference for farmers by farmers. We had the opportunity to hear from Chris Chinn, a Missouri pork producer, on why it is important to tell your farm story, no matter what your size or production type–if you don’t tell it, who will? We learned about all sorts of tools of the trade in social media–Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging–you name it, we talked about it. The conference finished up with Michele Payn-Knoper. She moved the audience (yes, Michele, I saw more than one less-than-dry eye in the group, including mine!) with the story of how one small hashtag created a community which is changing how this country looks at food production and communication with farmers.
Above all the tips and tricks, though, the Agvocacy 2.0 conference gave me something far greater and more valuable: I was able to meet all the people I’ve been talking with online over the past year and, let me tell you, they are AMAZING. From Rebecca to Mark to Drew to Shaun, they have left a mark on me that won’t be erased. Here are a few that you might be interested in learning more about:
Jan Hoadley: Jan is a small farmer who has made it her mission to spread the word about the value of small, local farming. I always value Jan’s opinion, which I often get to see through the @SlowMoneyFarm handle on Twitter, because of her never-failing respect for everyone in agriculture and her constant willingness to explain to me what she does. Twitter | Blog | Facebook
Joanna Kohnen: Joanna is a self-proclaimed ‘mommy blogger’ (which, I will add, is my new favorite phrase!) who is looking for her place in agriculture. She grew up on a dairy in Ohio and her dad continues to milk cows and farm organically as a part of Organic Valley. I loved spending time with Joanna and can’t wait to see the future she plans out. Twitter
Janice Person: Janice loves cotton! She is a self-proclaimed city girl who is now working for Monsanto in the southeastern United States and is a member of the AgChat Foundation board. Her always-present enthusiasm and understanding that it matters not who you work for, what you grow or the size of your farm is inspiring to everyone who meets her. Twitter | Blog | Facebook
I can’t list everyone I met (and nobody wants to read a 50-person list of names!), but please know that I am truly grateful for the opportunity to meet each and every one of you. I can’t wait for the next time our #ACFC10 group gets to join together for some #agnerd and #agvodate love!
For a recap of the conference, please check out the AgChat Foundation website and watch this awesome video put together by the video genius that is Kelly Rivard (with some minor help from a couple of unruly Spartans and a Kansas farmer 🙂 )