2016 Collegiate Congress Videography Winners Announced

While the month of April began with a cold chill outdoors, the atmosphere at Dow AgroSciences was in a heat wave. On April 2, 2016, the AgChat Foundation brought together over 70 students at the 2016 Collegiate Congress, hosted on the campus in Indianapolis. Attendees represented 18 universities and colleges from 10 states.

The day began with a shock and awe keynote from RoyLee Lindsey of the Oklahoma Pork Board. Lindsey provided a call to action which inspired the students to take a concerted effort to ask consumers about their buying decisions. He emphasized the need to listen rather than jumping to conclusions on others’ opinions, a lesson that was echoed throughout the entirety of the conference.

“I was so impressed with this year’s National Collegiate Congress,” said Natalina Sents, attendee and senior of Iowa State University. “The event was well planned and gave me the opportunity to network with peers from other schools, as well as professionals with varying fields of expertise. Learning with such a diverse group of people made for a very, rich experience.”

The student panels offered great insight and were unlike anything I’d ever participated in. I came home with several pages of notes, but my favorite take-away from the breakouts was Travis Haney’s advice, ‘Don’t miss the journey.’ I highly recommend this conference to any student passionate about food and agriculture,” said Sents.

Sam Wildman teaches students how to “silence the haters,” at the 2016 #AgChat National Collegiate Congress!

A photo posted by AgChat Foundation (@agchatfoundation) on

The interactive event consisted of featured speakers, student collaboration activities, and a variety of breakout sessions which covered professional growth, brand analysis, advocating through apps, on campus events, silent social media monitoring and more.

Students also participated in a video creation project in which they were divided into five teams and tasked with creating a short video about the importance of being an advocate for agriculture. The videos were posted on the AgChat Foundation YouTube page, and the team whose video received the most views received complimentary registrations to the 2016 Cultivate & Connect conference or the 2017 Collegiate Congress. The winning group includes Natalina Sents of Iowa State University, Perry Harlow of Illinois State University, Megan Neumann of Joilet Junior College (IL), Morgan Hasler of Purdue University, Brandi Peverley of Allen County Community College (KS), Michaela Price of The Ohio State University, Angie Ruffoni of Santa Rosa Community College (CA), Sabrina Myoda of Purdue University, and MeKenzie Gear of Purdue University. In the winning video, the team chose to encourage farmers and consumers to ask the individuals about different aspects in agriculture. The winning video may be viewed by visiting https://youtu.be/svBbxfTTAlU

The AgChat Foundation hosts several regional conferences throughout the year and the international Cultivate & Connect conference. These events provide farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals and educators with the tools to empower the telling of their agriculture stories.


If you would like more information about ACF’s Collegiate Congress, contact AgChat Foundation Executive Director, Jenny Schweigert by calling 309-241-8803 or email execdir at agchat.org.

Western Regional AgVocacy Conference Set to Discuss Drought, Land Management Issues

The AgChat Foundation will host the 2016 Western Regional Agvocacy conference in Reno, NV, February 19-20. The event will once again deliver a diverse selection of sessions focusing on strengthening online relationships while fostering offline communications with consumers.

The conference will open with New Mexico native, Matt Rush who will share his passion to share his ACF Welcomes New Mexico native Matt Rush to the 2016 Western Regional Conference - http://reno.agchat.rocksstory in an effort to remain viable, valuable and visible. Rush is the former CEO of the New Mexico Farm Bureau and previously served on American Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture Board of Directors.

Specific to western U.S. agricultural challenges, issues such as the drought, land management and labeling will be addressed through consumer and agvocacy panels. The agvocacy panel, “AgVocating Through A Drought,” will offer experiences from Western Canal Water District Special Projects Manager, Anjanette Shadley, northern California cattle rancher, Meg Brown and Nevada sheep rancher, Mike Compston.

Attend the 2016 Western Regional Conference in Reno, NV - http://reno.agchat.rocks“The AgChat Foundation was established in an effort to connect farmers and ranchers so that they may share their experiences as agriculture advocates,” says AgChat Foundation executive director, Jenny Schweigert. “Attendees of this event are dealing with a powerful set of circumstances. It is more important than ever for folks to connect with consumers and initiate a healthy dialogue. I believe we have assembled an experience which will offer tools and networking opportunities to foster consumer relationships.”

The event will also feature Emmy award-winning director, Conrad Weaver as he discusses the upcoming Thirsty Land documentary set for release in May.

Early bird registration closes January 21st and provides a discount of $30. For additional information, visit http://reno.agchat.rocks.


I’ve felt so alone in agvocacy

The AgChat Foundation has now held conferences in Chicago, Nashville, Kansas City, Charlotte, NC, Portland, OR, Austin and most recently Spokane, WA. The greatness of these events can be attributed to fabulous keynote speakers such as Bruce Vincent, sessions from basic Twitter to relationship building to conflict management, tours of grocers such as Whole Foods and wheat mills and finally, the ever popular, interactive consumer panels. Above all, it is the networking and attendees which put our conferences in the excellence category. I’d like to share a reflection following the recent 2015 Pacific Northwest Agvocacy conference.

There is no argument about the disconnect between consumers and their food. It clearly exists for AgChat Foundation's 2015  Pacific Northwest Agvocacy Conferenceeveryone. One observation which became evident is that the intensity of the disconnect varies greatly from region to region in the U.S. The pacific northwest is a prime example. There are stringent battle lines which have been drawn, by consumers several generations removed from the farm as well as farmers and ranchers who are fighting for their legacies. Couple those lines with the challenges faced by governmental land management and sharing your story of farming or ranching might look like an up-hill ride.

The issues which exist in the pacific northwest are vast and agriculture is extremely diverse. Bringing growers together allowed for stressors to be shared rather than held up by one person. As we all networked and chatted during the PNW event, there was a similar message that was heard multiple times.

“I’m so glad I connected with you. I’ve felt so alone.”

In that short two-day event, the relationships which were formed are providing inspiration and collaborations. Attendees now have a reachable mentoring group who can relate to the challenges they face in telling their stories of farming and ranching. Witnessing these conversations was a reminder of why the AgChat Foundation exists. It serves as a connecting point for agvocates to share and support one another. To ask for or provide advice. It is also a reminder that even if you haven’t attended an event yet, there are other opportunities to connect with other agvocates. You are not alone. I challenge you to reach out to at least one of these channels this week and share with friends and family who are also agvocating:

We sincerely hope that the event provided the desired conduit to connect all of the attendees who are advocating for agriculture in the pacific northwest and beyond. You are the AgChat Foundation and the resources and network are at your finger tips.

NEW #AgBlog post from Success is Reason Enough | #AgChatPNW

Posted by Blogging for Agriculture on Tuesday, April 28, 2015



Jenny serves as the AgChat Foundation Executive Director while helping manage her family’s Jenny Schweigert - AgChat.org photo courtesy of Keiser Photography https://www.facebook.com/KeiserPhotographysmall hobby farm and jumping in when possible on her in-laws farm in central Illinois. In addition to AgChat.org, she can be found blogging at TheMagicFarmHouse where she shares about life on their farm while connecting with boy moms, food allergy parents, hunters and more. She loves deer hunting and avoids housekeeping when possible. You can connect with her on Facebook or tweet her on Twitter.

Powerful Voices Set Tone for ACF’s PNW Agvocacy Conference

In the news…

The AgChat Foundation will host the 2nd Annual Pacific Northwest Regional Agvocacy conference at 2014 Northwest Agvocacy Conference - learn more about the 2015 event at www.AgChat.org/PNWNorthern Quest Resort and Casino in Spokane, WA, April 27-28. Attendees who register before March 20th will receive an early bird discount. The Foundation, known for providing high-quality, agriculture advocacy training to farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals, media and educators, will once again deliver a selection of sessions focusing on strengthening online relationships while fostering offline communications with consumers.

The conference will open with motivational keynote speaker, mom and North Dakota agvocate, Katie Pinke. A household name for bridging common ground in even the most difficult conversations, Pinke will share her experiences, purpose, insight and set a tone for understanding on all sides of the kitchen table.

Attendees can expect to learn about tips, strategies and hacks for efficient advocating and utilizing community to share their farm and ranch stories via Instagram and Pinterest. Emphasis will be placed on building communication when interacting with detractors or facing crisis situations. Additionally, they will be provided hands-on training for blogging, Twitter and other social media platforms. The event will offer the experience to network with fellow farmers, ranchers, mentors and advocates while also interacting with a consumer panel.

2014 Northwest Agvocacy Conference - learn more about the 2015 event at www.AgChat.org/PNWThe event will provide the tools which will equip all to advocate for agriculture. Keynote speaker Michele Payn-Knoper, ACF board member and author of ‘No More Food Fights,’ will close by inspiring and infusing the audience with a passion for telling the story of agriculture.

“Farmers and ranchers in the pacific northwest and all across the U.S., have a unique story to tell and we are the only ones who can tell it accurately and authentically. Attending an AgChat Foundation event will provide purpose, tools and a network for successfully communicating with consumers,” says AgChat Foundation Vice-President, Marie Bowers of Harrisburg, OR.

A complete schedule of events is available at AgChat.org/PNW and AgChatPNW.Eventbrite.com

Sponsorship opportunities will be available until mid-March. Inquiries should be sent to Jenny Schweigert, Executive Director by emailing execdir@agchat.org.

Go Social in Spokane! Register for ACF’s 2nd Annual Agvocacy Conference

The AgChat Foundation will host the 2nd Annual Pacific Northwest Regional Agvocacy conference in Spokane, WA, April 27-28, 2015. The Foundation, known for providing high-quality, agriculture advocacy training to farmers and ranchers across the globe, will once again deliver a diverse selection of sessions focusing on strengthening online relationships while fostering offline communications with consumers.
Attendees of the 2013 AgChat Foundation conference in Portland, OR, gather outside Portland's urban farm. www.AgChat.org

Since the inception of the Foundation in 2010, the mission has been to provide training to as many U.S. regions as possible. Therefore, no two trainings have been repeated in a region. However, due to positive feedback and requests received following the success of last year’s event, farmers and ranchers from the pacific northwest will again have the opportunity to learn from top agvocacy experts.

In 2014, Datassentials and Bayer CropScience conducted a study which concluded that 94% of American consumers would like to speak with a farmer or rancher. The same study indicated that 36% of the population trusts farmers and ranchers more than scientists, nutritionists, government agencies, companies engaged in farming or agriculture, even social media contacts outside agriculture. As the number of farmers and ranchers sharing their story grows, so will the success connections from field to fork.

“Farmers and ranchers, in the pacific northwest and all across the U.S., have a unique story to tell and we are the only ones who can tell it accurately and authentically,” says AgChat Foundation Vice-President, Marie Bowers of Harrisburg, OR.

Registration will open on Monday, February 9th with a limited-time early bird rate of $89 for farmers and ranchers; agribusiness professionals with have an opportunity to register at a discounted rate of $145.

For information pertaining to sponsorship opportunities, contact Executive Director Jenny Schweigert at execdir@agchat.org.