Going beyond the choir in the city of country music!

Last week, more than 100 farmers, ranchers and other agriculturalists gathered in Nashville for the second annual Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. Some were seasoned bloggers and tweeps, while others were stepping into the online realm for the first time. All had one thing in common — they came to learn about using social media to advocate for the industry they are passionate about.

California rancher Jeff Fowle challenged Agvocacy 2.0 participants to reach beyond the choir, and communicate with those outside of agriculture. Chuck Zimmerman photo.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Reaching Beyond the Choir.” Sometimes, in agriculture and online, we tend to talk with people we’re comfortable with. If we’re going to be part of a larger movement to help the general public become more familiar and comfortable with food production, though, it’s important to have conversations with people other than the farmers and ranchers we’re friends with. At the Agvocacy 2.0 Conference, attendees heard about new consumer research findings from the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, got advice and examples on how to have conversations with those outside of our industry, and learned from a panel of “mommy bloggers” about what goes into their food purchasing decisions. All of these sessions gave attendees the chance to expand their views and hear new (and possibly differing) opinions – something that’s good for all of us sometimes.

Farmers and ranchers from all over the country learned how to agvocate through social media and mobile technology at the Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. Chuck Zimmerman photo.

Then it was time to get to work learning about all of the social media tools agvocates are using. Attendees spent an entire afternoon and morning learning about the many social media platforms available to “agvocate” from. Whether it was Twitter, Facebook, mobile or video, those at the Agvocacy 2.0 Conference discovered that you don’t have to be a master of all SM tools to share your story. It’s about finding what you’re comfortable with and going with it!

In addition to the “educational” side of the conference, there were lots of opportunities to network with and meet other people from across North America. In both years that this conference has been held, it’s clear that the time spent making new friendships and building new relationships is the best part of attendees’ time together. After all, that’s a huge part of why we’re involved in social media – the social part! Between informal tweet-ups all over the city, a night out at the Wildhorse Saloon and a pre-dinner reception, there was no shortage of laughter and getting-to-know you time.

They came from coast-to-coast, from the US and Canada — attendees at the 2011 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference! Chuck Zimmerman photo.

As we look toward the next year, the AgChat Foundation is excited to see the positive group of agvocates we have in our community. The Agvocacy 2.0 Conference is just one more example of the greatness that can happen when good people come together. To those of you who were in Nashville, what was the biggest thing you learned? How are you going to turn what you learned into agvocacy? To those of you who didn’t get a chance to make the trip: we hope to see you next year! We’ve still got lots of agvocating left to do and are always ready to meet our online friends in real life!

PS – Thank you to all of our sponsors for making this conference happen. We couldn’t have done it without you!


  1. Well right out of the gate starting this year I’m getting involved in leading/forming a new 4-H group that includes “town kids” as well as those on farms. My focus is beyond cattle and hogs to bring in those who don’t have room/finances – and I got the county 4-H program on Facebook today. It’s a start