Board of Directors
Darin farms with his father and a couple of valued partners raising corn, soybeans and feeding cattle near Morrill, Kansas. Darin was heavily involved for many years in precision ag technology, using tools like yield monitors and GPS systems to improve agronomic decision making on the farm. His growing focus on social media and communication technologies in recent years came from a realization that increasing numbers of people are generations removed from the farm and very unaware of modern agriculture practices. “Social media offers a unique opportunity for today’s farmers to connect directly with folks who have an interest in how food, fiber and more is produced today,” he said.
Zach Hunnicutt is a fifth-generation family farmer from Aurora, Nebraska, who farms with his dad, brother, and cousin raising irrigated corn, popcorn and soybeans. Zach received a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing an MBA from Nebraska. Their farm has always been on the cutting edge of ag technology, and being able to connect with farmers and consumers from around the world through social media is a great extension of that focus.
Tim Zweber- Minnesota, Farmer, Secretary
Tim farms with his wife, Emily, and his parents on their fourth generation organic dairy in Elko, MN. In addition to the dairy, Zweber Farms raises beef, pork and chickens for direct marketing. The Zwebers use Twitter, Facebook, and their website and blog to spread positive messages about agriculture. “Social media is important to our family because it is a way to develop relationships with consumers and other farmers.”
Marie Bowers is a 5th generation grass seed farmer in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, farming land that has been in her family for over a hundred years. Prior to returning to the family farm she graduated from Washington State University with degrees in Agriculture and Agriculture Economics and Management then spent 3 years in the Farm Credit System. When she discovered #Agchat on twitter it opened many doors and connections. It fueled her passion for telling her story via social media and encouraging others to do the same!
Jan Hoadley grew up on a family farm with Charolais cattle in Illinois. Today she raises poultry and rabbits at SlowMoneyFarm with a combination of tradition and technology. As a growing farm on a cash budget, social media has been a means of survival and promotion. With a long standing interest in heritage and rare breeds of livestock, heirloom plants and an identification with the customer through direct selling, social media is a means to build connections. “Social media allows those outside of our area to share our lives, what we do and why we do it as well as communicating about what consumers want. Even if they don’t agree, understanding is a win for both sides.” Jan raises Giant Chinchilla rabbits, several breeds of heritage chickens and is actively working on direct sales with customers for the farm.
Mark still has a couple of 4-H ribbons from the Walworth, Wisconsin, county fair in a drawer somewhere, though he did not grow up on a farm. After studying journalism in college, Mark started his career in Florida as a newspaper reporter, covering a variety of topics from devastating freezes in the Citrus Groves to Migrant Workers. Much of the rest of his career has been spent at advertising agencies working closely with agriculture. He is now a partner at Charleston Orwig, and has the privilege of working closely with many clients large and small who serve virtually all aspects of food production – including those who work and live other lifestyles. “I am excited to see social media used as a way to connect farmers and consumers together so they can learn from one another.”
Whether armed with a facilitator’s hat, a cow halter or boxing gloves by her microphone, MPK is known for her agricultural advocacy work as the principal of Cause Matters Corp. Her family’s small farm in central Indiana includes registered Holsteins descending from a heifer she purchased at the age of 12. She works internationally to build connections between the farm gate and consumer plate as a Certified Speaking Professional and writer, inspiring others to agvocate. “Social media once seemed like a silly fad, but I’ve learned the power of a community transcends the tool – as proven by this Foundation.”
Kathy was born and raised on a dairy farm in Virginia, earned her DVM at The Ohio State University and chose to have a career in agriculture as a cattle veterinarian because of her love for animals. Kathy serves a variety of clients in Florida and southern Georgia. She enjoys being an information resource for people, as the care and health of animals continues to be a growing concern for consumers. Kathy is excited to be involved with this diverse group in educating people about the many ways agriculture helps their everyday lives. “Social media is important because it allows personal interactions between people who ordinarily would not come in contact with each other.”
John Blue-Indiana, Digital Ag Media Producer and Publisher
John Blue, as Chief of Community Creation for Truffle Media Networks, develops the ability to engage agricultural focused audiences through marketing, technology, and in person interactions. Social and new media tools allow anyone to easily share their story with audience groups large and small. For agriculture, having easy access to social and new media tools is an important step toward having real conversations with people not directly involved in bringing food to the plate.
Chuck is president of ZimmComm New Media, parent company of several on-line agricultural publications including Agwired.com. Chuck’s background in ag communications began in 1984 when he started working for Florida Farm Bureau, then co-founding what is now Southeast Agnet, and eventually moving to Missouri to manage Brownfield Radio Network. Chuck and his wife, Cindy, started ZimmComm in 2004 just as the social media wave was beginning and have been learning more every day, along with teaching others how these tools can help agriculture. “I’ve been involved in AgChat from the start and hope the Foundation will help spread the good news about agriculture from those who know it best.”
Carrie Oliver is the founder of The Artisan Beef Institute™ and owner of The Oliver Ranch Company™. Her mission is to transform beef and other meats from commodities to a more deeply appreciated food by leveraging a little known secret: the very best meat is like wine, it presents a wide array of flavors and textures depending on the land and the artisans who craft it. Beef has terroir. Often referred to as “The Robert Parker of Beef,” “The Meat Sommelier,” or more simply, “THE Beef Geek,” Carrie asks a simple question: If Rutherford is famous for Cabernet Sauvignon and Carneros for Pinot Noir, why not similar appellations for beef? She hosts exciting educational Artisan Beef, Pork, Lamb, Poultry, and Goat tastings across North America and offers home tasting kits through her online marketplace, The Oliver Ranch Company.
Janice Person is a fourth generation city girl who found a passion for agricultural communications in college while working for some trade magazines. She has spent most of her career focused on Southern row crops with cotton being a common thread as she’s worked for various companies. Janice is currently a public affairs person working with public understanding of agriculture and social media for Monsanto Company. She tuned in for the first #AgChat and has volunteered with a number of the efforts the community has pulled together since. ”As a communicator, I enjoy sharing stories and working in ag. Social media is just latest way to do that and is a great means of relationship building. Its amazing how much you can learn or how much you can teach others through the social media. One farmer in the middle of rural America can touch hundreds, even thousands of people in the city. I’ve learned so much and made so many friends that I can’t imagine life without social media.”
Craig is an agricultural and food attorney with the firm Gillon & Associates, PLLC that is based out of the metropolitan Memphis, Tennessee area. Craig specializes in agricultural, food, international trade and general corporate/transactional work. He has been excited to be a participate in #agchat for almost a year now and has enjoyed the connections he has made to various farmers and ranchers throughout the world that have enlightened him, as well as his practice.
Raised on a family farm in rural Kentucky, Amy has found her passion in entrepreneurship in the big wide world of meat. She currently lives on a small farm, Split Creek Farm, on the outskirts of Bowling Green with her husband, John, and their young children. Together, Amy and John founded, own and operate John’s Custom Meats, a modern, on-farm USDA slaughterhouse, processing facility and retail shop. They offer true farm-to-plate services by raising their own beef cattle for direct sale to consumers. Amy is dedicated to creating and enabling the infrastructure to support an efficient regional food system. She offers livestock processing and consulting services to regional farmers, empowering them to sell their meats directly to their customers. Amy spends her days balancing family, farm life, and the meat shop, all while navigating the hair-pulling regulatory world of USDA, FSIS, and HACCP. In keeping with the Kentucky tradition, Amy’s also a huge supporter of Kentucky Bourbon.
Nate currently works in business development at ZedX, Inc., headquartered in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Nate shares the vision of ZedX; a sustainable world guided by knowledge and ingenuity, aided by technological innovation, dependent upon well managed resources and works every day with farmers and ranchers to fullfill this vision. Prior to joining ZedX, Nate worked at John Deere Agri Services in the Global Research and Development Group as a Project Manager developing products and services for the agricultural marketplace. Nate is a proud husband and father of three children. “With an ever increasing population, sparked interest in the field of agriculture by consumers, and finite resources it has never been more important for farmers and ranchers to openly share their story – of how they work to sustainbly produce safe, healthy, affordable food and why it is much more than a job. Social Media has provided us a platform to connect with consumers from across the globe to enable knowledge sharing.”
Mace was born and raised on a small hog farm in northeast Kansas. He started his career as a newspaper reporter while earning a journalism degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has been writing about agriculture and the hard-working families that make it possible ever since. Mace joined the staff of Kansas Farm Bureau in 1985 and the American Farm Bureau Federation in 1990. He is deputy director of the AFBF Public Relations Department, where he serves as chief speechwriter and contributes to AFBF’s public relations, issues management, media relations and social media strategies. “Social media has empowered farmers and ranchers to engage in today’s conversation about food and agriculture, and it could not have come along at a more opportune time. It used to be we would go to farmers and help them convey their stories. Now, they are coming to us with their real-life stories that are more genuine and compelling than any trained journalist could ever write.”
Dr. J. Scott Vernon is the founder of the “I Love Farmers…They Feed My Soul” campaign to support American family farmers and ranchers. He is a professor of agricultural communications at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Dr. Vernon travels throughout the world speaking with agricultural organizations on leadership, communication and industry issues. He grew up on his family’s cow-calf ranch.