AgChat Foundation Welcomes Four New Board Members


Heidi H. Nelson, Harvest PR

503-880-6313 /

MINNEAPOLIS—Four new members have joined the AgChat Foundation board of directors, adding different types of experience in social media and agriculture to the nonprofit, announces President Darin Grimm. Last month, organic dairy farmer Emily Zweber, Elko, Minn., was named the organization’s first executive director.

“All four of our new board members have been actively engaged in the AgChat community for some time and have enthusiastically embraced the Foundation’s mission,” says Grimm. “A diverse board helps ensure the Foundation serves the needs of all agricultural segments and effectively empowers farmers and ranchers to tell their stories using social media.”

John Blue, Indiana

John Blue has been on the Foundation’s advisory board for two years and has been an important contributor to many of AgChat’s successes. As chief of community creation for Truffle Media Networks, Blue helps engage agriculturally focused audiences through marketing, technology and in-person interactions.

“Social and new media tools allow people to easily share their story with audience groups, large and small,” Blue says. “For those in agriculture, having easy access to social and new media tools is an important step toward having meaningful conversations with others.”

Marie Bowers, Oregon

Marie Bowers is a fifth-generation grass seed farmer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, managing land that has been in her family for more than a century. She graduated from Washington State University with degrees in agriculture and agriculture economics and management, then spent three years in the Farm Credit System.

“When I discovered #agchat on Twitter, it opened many doors and connections,” Bowers says. “It fueled my passion for telling our farm’s story via social media and encouraging others to do the same.”

Jan Hoadley, Alabama

Jan Hoadley grew up on a family farm in Illinois with Charolais cattle. Today she raises poultry and rabbits at Slow Money Farm, tapping technology and tradition to keep the operation viable. Hoadley has a long-standing interest in heritage and rare breeds of livestock and heirloom plants. She currently raises Giant Chinchilla rabbits and several breeds of heritage chickens. Hoadley says social media has been a means of survival and an important promotional tool for building customer connections and direct selling.

“Social media allows people outside our area to view our life on the farm, learn about what we do and why we do it, and communicate their wants and needs with us,” Hoadley says. “Even if some consumers don’t agree with our methods, understanding is a win for everyone.”

Jeff VanderWerff, Michigan

After nearly 10 years on the road in agribusiness, Jeff VanderWerff is back home on his family’s farm near Sparta, Mich., and doing what he loves most: raising corn, wheat, soybeans, apples and peaches with his wife, Alyssa, and brother, father and uncle. Always on the cutting edge of farm technology, VanderWerff first started telling his farm’s story in a 2009 Farm & Ranch Living feature.

“In some cases, I think other farmers are in greater need of information about what we do than the public is,” he says. “Social media helps us connect with other farmers.”

According to Grimm, the background and experiences of the new board members will help AgChat Foundation programming evolve and engage producers across the nation.

Blue, Bowers, Hoadley and VanderWerff, along with the rest of the AgChat Board and the training committee, are planning the nonprofit’s third annual social media and thought-leadership conference. “We will be announcing the city and date shortly,” Grimm says. “Our group is working hard to ensure that the conference content is keeping pace with the rapidly changing social media landscape.”

The AgChat Foundation’s social media conference includes large and small group learning to help establish the confidence individuals need to support agriculture with social media. Past seminar content has included Twitter community building, creating high-impact video, blog basics and more. For more information, visit

About the AgChat Foundation

Created in 2009, the AgChat Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower farmers and ranchers to “agvocate” via social media platforms. The Foundation educates and equips farmers and ranchers with the skill set needed to effectively engage on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media services.