Find your tools and build!

I was very fortunate to have gotten involved with the AgChat Foundation last spring by volunteering on the Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference Committee for planning last summer’s event in Chicago, Ill. While working with the other members of the committee, I thought we had planned a terrific conference and I was right. I will have to admit that I did feel a little nervous meeting my #agchat friends for the first time in person. I still considered myself at the beginner level then and was ready to learn along with other attendees from the many experts who were presenting.

I was blown away with all the tips and strategies that I learned over those two days. I realized there was so much more I could do with these tools. Soon after leaving the conference I had two areas that I wanted to focus on to build a better community for agricultural education teachers using social media, much like what we had for #agchat.

After getting some tips from Michele Payn-Knoper, I started #AgEduChat with Amanda Sollman, which is a bi-weekly Twitter Chat on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. We try to operate our chat much like #AgChat. This has been pretty successful in the few months since we have started. Through the chat, I’ve had the chance to meet others involved in agricultural education from all across the country and gain ideas of how I could make my classroom even better.

In addition to #AgEduChat, I also wanted to start blogging. I had always been hesitant at starting since I am not a writer at all. One main tip that I took from the blogging session at the conference was that you do not have to always be the writer of all the blog posts. So, with that advice, I created the blog The Wise Owls – Tales from an Ag Ed Classroom. I recruited other agricultural education teachers from around Ohio with a variety of teaching experiences to help with writing the posts.

I was able to easily take what I learned at last year’s Agvocacy 2.0 Conference and incorporate it into my social media use. Whether you want to start your own Twitter chat or just want to focus on one or two tools to become skilled on them, I highly recommend this conference to anyone in any type of agriculture who wants to connect with others and gain some knowledge and tips about social media. This year’s conference will have something for everyone. Make sure you apply soon to join us in Nashville – the deadline is approaching!

Drew Bender is a second-year agricultural education instructor at a local high school in central Ohio. He also helps out on his family’s farm in Marion, Ohio with crop (soybeans, corn and wheat) and livestock (market hogs and poultry) enterprises. Drew is a member of the training committee for the AgChat Foundation.  You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Drew, it’s been great to have an educator’s perspective on the training committee. We appreciate all of your volunteer time – and it’s wonderful to see you sharing what you’ve learned with other agvocates.