Passion. I am passionate about farming.
I attended the AgChat Conference in Charlotte, NC this past week. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. One that had me walking away feeling like I was in the right place.
I started off the conference being pretty nervous. I was surrounded by some of the biggest names in social media in the agriculture industry such as Dairy Carrie, The Pinke Post, Ag Proud Ryan, Michele Payn Knoper, and more. I felt like the little guy who just blogs from my tiny town of 671 people in rural Minnesota. Then I realized they were all here for the same reason as I am. Because they are passionate about agriculture and they want to make a difference in agriculture.
I was able to meet some of the amazing bloggers and other social media guru’s that I’ve been following and reading. They’ve done some awesome things like starting the #PluckEZChicken campaign (Dairy Carrie) or fighting for sensible school lunches (The Pinke Post) or maybe its empowering farmers to tell their story (Michele Payn Knoper & Cause Matters) and sometimes its helping provide the resources other farmers need to help tell their story (Janice Person).
The first day in, we started with Michele Payn Knoper giving us some things to think about- like what our end goal is. I wrote down that I want to tell my personal farming story to audiences around the world, connecting my family, my farm and their food. Jay Baer, author of Youtility was up next, giving us some things to think about on how we present our information, how we are helping our consumers and about trust and agvocacy. I walked away, going to my other sessions, wondering when consumers stopped trusting the farmer, why and what I can do to bring back the trust in agriculture.
I completed sessions on Facebook, better blogging, and Pinterest all on Thursday. Hopefully these tips and tools will help me tell my farming story better. What was probably the most interesting was to listen to a panel of consumers: a registered dietitian, a restaurant owner/chef, a mom, wife & blogger and an extension educator. One mentioned that they chose chicken because red meat had too many hormones. Another mentioned that she hears the loudest person and it was time for farmers to get loud. The misconceptions and questions just made me realize I need to do a better job of agvocating and that we were all here to learn how to do that.
That night, I got to connect with fellow MN Bloggers Wanda (MN Farm Living) and Lara (My Other More Exciting Self). This was fantastic as both of these women are amazing! They are two agvocates that I greatly look up to. I’m so glad I was able to connect with them both. Wanda is also a Speak for Yourself participant and I was able to visit her farm this summer, so it was nice to see a familiar face.
The next morning I dove right into sessions about trolls, Twitter and media creation. They gave me ideas on how to better tell my story. Then came an amazing presentation by Laura Daniels. I’m not sure I’ve ever been moved so much by a speech. I had tears in my eyes as I thought about my farming story, why I farm and what it means to me to get to farm as she explained her farm.
She empowered me to tell my story. To let my passion lead me. That I am a hitch pin and my story is valuable. I am the face behind the numbers. I laughed. I cried and walked away knowing that this trip and conference were worth every single penny. It reaffirmed my faith that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
I’m a farmer who loves every single minute of it, and I’m ready to get loud.