Introducing ACF’s Summer 2015 Intern & Why Do I Agvocate?

AgChat Foundation would like to officially welcome Melissa Woolpert as our summer 2015 intern. Melissa is an Melissa Woolpert ACF Summer Intern - AgChat.orgalumnae of the inaugural 2015 Collegiate Congress and a graduate student at the University of Vermont, pursuing her Masters of Science degree in Food Systems.

Her journey to agriculture advocacy has been unique and a strong indication that all people, regardless of their background, can successfully advocate for agriculture. The story is the second in our “Why Do I Agvocate?” series.

Dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, Melissa spent her Monterey County, California childhood riding horses. Her dream led to the University of Vermont to study Animal Science. As a part of coursework, she worked milking and caring for dairy cattle. She was immediately hooked and at the duration of her class, she began milking at a local dairy and has never turned back. Her love of farming developed into a desire to learn more about food and she returned to obtain her Masters of Science degree in Food Systems.

While she did not grow up around farming or ranching, her love and experience working in the dairy industry has created a drive to foster positive discussion, thought and support for our food system. Her journey from a sunny, Californian eater to an advocating farmer, is shared in more depth on her blog CountrybyChance.com. You can also catch up with her on the CountryByChance Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.  We would love for you to take a look and see how she encourages other eaters to jump into advocating for food.

You will also find a great opportunity to connect with Melissa on the AgChat Foundation Facebook page, #AgChat Facebook group, the FoodChat Facebook page and on Twitter. Please give her a warm, AgChat shout out to welcome her!

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Why do I agvocate? – Barbara Siemen

We are pleased to bring agriculture advocates a new series called “Why Do I Agvocate?” Often times we can become caught up in the numbers, likes, views, rates and the excitement of social media. We set expectations for ourselves, our blogs, Facebook farm or fan pages and at times become driven by metrics. When the metric benchmarks aren’t achieved we become frustrated or discouraged. 

Some may find success in their stats or metrics expectation. However before many “agvocates” realize it their original reason of “Why Do I Agvocate?” is gone. Social media then potentially becomes a numbers game. Social media should never be about the numbers but the connections and the impacts you make, big or small.

We can forget why we began advocating for agriculture, telling our stories or agvocating, whichever descriptor you prefer. Others may hold certain expectations of what you should be accomplishing in your advocacy journey. In either case, you cannot let that detract you from your original goal of Agvoacy. The hardcore truth is that there’s a high likelihood that at some point we have all fallen to the numbers and expectations. In an effort to bring the ‘why’ back to advocating, we want to share each other’s ‘whys.’ This week we are beginning with Farm Barbie who has a fantastic story behind her ‘why.’

The Why Behind The Chick Wire written by Barbara Siemen

I didn’t grow up in a small town, or even on a farm. My family lived on a beach, with a lake as our front yard. I attended Catholic school. Everything I wanted or needed was within a 20-minute drive. I consider myself a true city-girl at heart, but now I’m living the life of a country-girl complete with cows in my backyard, more tractor traffic down our road than  cars, and straw, random bolts, and other lovely surprises in my washing machine. How did that happen? Love.

I went to Michigan State University as a Criminal Justice major. After spending my high school years involved in my local police department’s Explorer’s Program, I was bound to be an officer. I had respect and admiration for the law and those who uphold it on the streets. I was determined to remove criminals from society. I loved the feel of a Glock in my hand, the weight of Kevlar on my chest, the look of a fresh-pressed uniform, and the scent of the locker room. We had regular monthly meetings and our own uniforms. I went on ride-a-longs every weekend. I knew the LEIN system, proper search procedure, and could take down and cuff a 250-pound man in seconds. I loved it.

One day, Freshman year in South Hubbard Hall at MSU, I was in the cafeteria eating with my friends, decked out in camouflage pants and a white t-shirt, when I spotted him. Fresh from the weight room wearing a white tank top, yellow mesh shorts, and black lifting gloves, he sauntered into the cafeteria like a boss. I pointed him out to my friends. I was in love.

Dorm dates turned into weekend trips “back home” where I spent time alongside him in a tractor, the milking parlor, or at his family’s frequent gatherings. I was in love with him, but I was falling in love with this occupation and his community. I knew I would be with this man for the rest of my life, but being a cop in a small town would be a super tough job. I decided my future family was more important than my own career aspirations, so I changed my major to English, since language was the only other strength I had and loved as much.

After graduation, we married and moved “back home” to where generations of Siemens’ had lived. We live in the same house he grew up in, on the same parcel of land that his family has owned for over 100 years. We continue the family farming tradition with our three children, in the hopes that they will someday carry on the legacy. Though I don’t have a job outside on the farm, I take care of the office stuff and I blog about agriculture as a way to reach consumers. The reason I do it is really all about love.

Darrin works hard, long hours, and puts all our investments in Mother Nature’s hands, hoping to reap a reward in the future. It takes an enormous amount of faith and love to do this every year. After being married for almost 14 years and watching him toil or triumph over and over, his pure love for agriculture has been transported to me. His love is my love, it’s our family’s love, it’s our future love.

On my blog, and across social media, I share various facets of our life. I show readers our daily happenings, so they can see that we are just like them. I share facts about agriculture, so they can understand that we use science and technology in addition to hard work and dedication to provide quality food to them. I offer recipes, so other moms like me can have options for feeding their family, too. I do all of this out of love, and because it also gives me a creative outlet, a purpose in life apart from my husband and kiddos, and a connection to others I wouldn’t otherwise know in life.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that everyone has struggles and is passionate about something different, which is what makes us all so interesting and unique. A woman that lost her mother to breast cancer might be a prominent voice for breast cancer awareness and research. Someone that has suffered at the abusiveFarm barbie and family hands of a loved one might be a volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. Farmers areno different than anyone else. We are a voice for that thing that we love so much, that thing that has touched our lives and changed us forever. We yearn for the opportunity to reach one more person, to show them our farm, tell them about our animals, to dispel any myths. We get offended when someone questions our intentions or integrity, because we are deeply hurt by the accusation.

I hope through the mirror of their computer screen, readers can see themselves in us; we are human and we make mistakes too. Every day we get up and try our best. We strive and struggle. We conquer and celebrate.
At the end of the day, that thing that makes it all worth it, is love. Farm Barbie is human, and she loves.

 

 

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FarmBarbie

Barbara Ann, also known as The Chick Wire previously known as Farm Barbie, is a city girl turned country chick, thanks to falling in love with a farmer. Now, she’s a stay at home mom and professional farmer’s wife. She is also an amateur photographer, chef, and fashionista and an aspiring children’s book author. Read more about Farm Barbie on her blog, tweet with her @BarbaraSiemen, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

AgChat Foundation Partners with ThirstyLand Film maker Conrad Weaver

Emmitsburg, Maryland – Will there be enough water to survive? “Thirsty Land” is an exciting new documentary that tells the story of drought, its impact on agriculture, communities and the global food supply.

Filmmaker, Conrad Weaver is already well known for his award-winning documentary “The Great American Wheat Harvest.” Working with farmers and harvesters has led him to turn the focus of his company, Conjostudios LLC, exclusively to agriculture, and now he’s focusing on the drought that’s strangling our landscape, and threatening our food supply.

“The story of drought needs to be told! Our global food supply and our very survival of humans depend on clean, abundant fresh water.  I want to make the audience think about it every time they take a drink of water, enjoy a shower or water their lawn.”

The AgChat Foundation is collaborating with Weaver as the in-kind “Fiscal Sponsor” and fundraising partner of “Thirsty Land” film.  The Foundation will provide fundraising support as a 501c3 non-profit organization, enabling Weaver to receive grants, and other tax-deductible donations for the film project.

“I’m thrilled to be able to work with AgChat Foundation,” says Weaver, “Their mission for connecting consumers to their food is completely in line with the mission of our film. The films we produce at ConjoStudios are all about helping consumers understand how agriculture works, so our collaboration is a win-win for both of us!”

Jenny Schweigert, Executive Director of AgChat Foundation says, “Participation with ConjosStudios, LLC, and the Thirsty Land film is an incredible opportunity to connect consumers to the farmers and ranchers who are producing our food, fuel and fibers. The AgChat Foundation’s overall goals are two-fold: to empower those in agriculture with the tools they need to develop meaningful conversations with consumers and to provide conduit for our industry to connect with those who are not involved with farming or ranching. Conrad has a unique eye for creatively grabbing viewers’ attention while also framing situations, such as the drought, in a way which inspires everyone to become part of the solution. We are honored to assist Conrad in bringing the dire conditions of drought to the forefront of everyone’s mind by supporting the conduit provided by Thirsty Land.”

Weaver is launching a “Crowdfunding” campaign for “Thirsty Land” on June 1 through IndieGoGo.com with a goal of raising $25,000 to help with the production of the film. 
Visit https://conjostudios.leadpages.net/thirstyland-trailer/  to view the film trailer, and sign up for more information.

For interview requests and more information on the making of the film, contact Conrad Weaver at 301-606-7794 or email conrad@conjostudios.com today.

Celebrating Five Years of Pioneering Grassroots Agvocacy in Nashville

As a pioneer in grassroots agvocacy, the AgChat Foundation is proud to announce the 2015 Cultivate & Connect conference which will be held at the Hotel Preston in Nashville, TN. In an effort to accommodate state and country fairs; back-to-school and other agriculturally related events, the conference is scheduled for November 9-10, rather than August.

We all know pioneers in our industry, but what happens when you are the pioneer? You celebrate. And, that is 2015 Cultivate & Connect conference - register at http://nashville.agchat.rocksexactly what the AgChat Foundation community will be doing this year at the 2015 Cultivate & Connect conference, themed Celebrating Five Years of Pioneering Grassroots Agvocacy.

“In 2010, the AgChat Foundation was founded in an effort to connect farmers and ranchers while empowering them to connect communities and tell the stories behind their farms and ranches. The grassroots movement was the first of its kind which has led to training over 700 farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals, educators and enthusiasts,” stated Jenny Schweigert, Executive Director, AgChat Foundation. She adds, “It is amazing to see so many people successfully sharing the story behind our food and making meaningful connections with consumers. This year’s event is as much about delivering excellent training as it is about celebrating the accomplishments made by the agriculture advocacy community over the past five years.”

This year’s conference plans to accommodate over 175 food and farm devotees and do it with the flair only Music City can offer.

Who should attend?

The conference and celebration is open all farmers, ranchers, growers, agribusiness people and agriculture educators from all walks of agriculture.

What can I expect?

Sessions for beginners and advanced agvocates will include:

  • tactical strategies for providing information that the general public is seeking about food and farming,
  • writing workshops,
  • food photography,
  • Search Engine Optimization,
  • understanding analytics,
  • establishing working relationships with the media,
  • case studies,
  • information management strategies,
  • an overview of emerging social platforms,
  • and planning an event on your farm or ranch.

But wait, there’s more!

Do you have ideas for a session and are you willing to present? The AgChat Foundation is asking for session ideas with the theme: “What, How, or Why Are You Doing Things Differently with Social Media Platforms?” for the 2015 National AgChat Conference. To submit a session proposal, go to http://bit.ly/1JBjz97 . The deadline for entry is 11:59 PM Central Time June 21. One member from each winning proposal team will receive a complimentary registration to the conference. Travel and hotel are the responsibility of the presenter. The selected sessions will be announced July 1. For additional information pertaining to submitting a session proposal, contact John Blue at jlblue@trufflemedia.com.

How do I register?

Register by clicking here which will take you to the registration site http://nashville.agchat.rocks