2016 Cultivate & Connect conference announced

The AgChat Foundation is dedicated to empower farmers, ranchers, and agriculturalists with2016 Cultivate & Connect - AgChat.org the tools to share their stories to consumers – on social media, one-on-one connections and at the legislative level. The Foundation does so through online materials, regional events, and global conferences.

 

The 2016 Cultivate & Connect global conference will be held December 8-9, 2016, in Kansas City. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in social media, agriculture advocacy and interpersonal skills. The event will open with keynote speaker Vance Crowe who will set the stage with his motivational expertise and experience.

Vance Crowe opening keynote speaker at the 2016 Cultivate & Connect conference - AgChat.org

Registration for the event will begin June 15. Watch for further keynote announcements in the coming weeks.

For information pertaining to sponsorship opportunities of this event, please contact Jenny Schweigert at 309-241-8803 or execdir@agchat.org. We look forward to working with you.

There’s a time and a place for everything – insight on the #AgChat & #AgVocate hash tag

There’s a time and a place for everything – insight on the #AgChat & #AgVocate hash tag

“There’s a time and a place for everything,” was a comment my mother often made. This statement has magically become one of my popular pieces of advice for my three boys. A perfect example is the time my youngest son and I were waiting in line to checkout at the grocery store. To make the time go faster, the woman in front of us struck up a conversation with my son. They began talking about his lambs. She asked him to share their names and what he will do with his pets. He quickly corrected her and explained, “that we will be probably be eating the lambs,” and went into much more detail. The woman’s tongue became temporarily frozen as she finished the transaction and quickly left without an opportunity for my explanation. Based on the woman’s reaction, I feared we would be met by the Department of Child Welfare once we arrived home.

He was truthful, frank and did accurately describe our intentions for the lambs. He shared the information with pride because of the time and care he has taken to ensure the lambs were treated humanely and to the best of our ability. If we had been sitting with family around the television on Sunday afternoon, the conversation would have been completely normal. The right place and the right time.

The grocery store check-out line was neither the right time nor place to be discussing his ‘pets.’

What determines the right time or place?

Generally speaking, the audience. The woman sharing the grocery line was not the right audience to be sharing as detailed information at that point in time.

The same can be said for the use of the term agvocate. People who are outside of the agriculture industry have been known to comment that the word includes a typo. It’s not a familiar term to them and carries very little value. Social media profiles used across multiple platforms are required to fit into a small set of characters. When working with limited characters, every word counts and must include words which clearly connect with your intended audience.

I’m proud to be an agvocate

In my years at the AgChat Foundation, I’ve met many farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists who are proud agvocates – and rightfully so. Whether you are first generation ranchers or seventh, there is pride in what you do. It’s an inherited gift we all share and should continue to celebrate, among the right audience.

My intended audience includes a targeted group of people, generations removed from the farm who share common interests such as the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, home renovation, hunting/fishing and parents of all boys. It’s a crowd which has no connection to the term AgVocate, so I choose to avoid using the word with my communication to this audience. It is simply not the right place.

It is also not useful to include the #AgChat hash tag when I’m trying to reach beyond the choir. Moms of boys and St. Louis Cardinal fans are not searching for AgChat, most will use hash tags such as #boymom, #momofallboys, #StlCards, #GoCards, etc…

If your intended audience is other farmers and ranchers telling their stories, then the use of the #AgChat and #AgVocate hash tags will likely draw the attention of those individuals.

How do I determine which hash tags to use to reach my intended audience?

This is fully dependent upon your target audience. Visit our blog post, “Non-Ag Hash Tags You Should Watch,” for suggestions and ideas of useful non-agriculture hash tags.

My mother also told me, “choose your words wisely,” and I’m often reminded that not only is there a time and place for everything, we need to pause and think of what we say, or type, before we speak or push the enter key.

After all, we want to engage with our audiences and inform them where we can; not leave them more confused that when we started the conversation.

written by Jenny Schweigert

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What Story Will You Tell? Guest FFA Week Post

As Indiana FFA State Officers, my team and I have gone through many trainings. We learn about facilitating conferences, working with sponsors, and working together as a team. However, you might Indiana State FFA Officers 2015-2016be surprised to know the most valuable training we have experienced this year was training on how to tell stories. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

For thousands of years, humans have been passing stories on to one another—stories of wisdom and failure, of heroes and villains. Why are stories so effective? Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have found that stories stimulate different parts of the brain at the same time. When a story is being told our brains track each aspect of that story. We literally immerse ourselves in the world created by the storyteller by creating the setting, characters, and sensations in our own minds.

I find this information very interesting, especially for people involved in the agriculture industry. Oftentimes, the agriculture industry is on the defensive. We have to defend our practices, motives, and ethics constantly. The main thing we like to share in this defense is factual information—statistics, studies, and surveys. We hurl fact after fact at the American consumer; hoping, eventually, they will catch the information and absorb it. In the mean-time, the opposition goes straight for the emotional jugular, sharing erroneous stories of abuse in slaughterhouses and poisonous chemicals being leaked into our water supply.

I don’t believe this battle can be fought with facts alone. Agriculturalists must utilize the power of the story. Our stories show our values. Our stories show we are human. Oftentimes, we are told to take the conversation as far away from the emotional side as possible. Why can’t we mix the emotional with the factual? If they hear your story first, people will be more likely to accept your facts. In this Age of Information, anyone can access the facts in seconds. The sheer amount of data available is astounding, but it’s also incredibly overwhelming.

In this sea of information, the only thing floating is stories. So get out there, and share your story. It’s easier than ever. We have so many mediums to communicate through—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Type out your story and post it. Don’t have any of those things? Talking is great too. Talk to people everywhere you go—the grocery store, the mall, at work, at family reunions. You may think your story alone won’t make a difference, but it will.

We all love a good story. It’s in our DNA. We have an innate need to share our experiences with others. This is what makes us human. It’s not something we should run away from, but embrace. During National FFA Week and for the rest of our lives, my teammates and I will be telling the story of agriculture and FFA. What story will you tell?

submitted by Annalee Witte, Indiana State FFA Secretary

Indiana State FFA Secretary Annalee WitteAnnalee Witte, 18, is thrilled to spend the year serving the 11,000 members of Indiana FFA as the State Secretary. Annalee grew up in the small town of Wilkinson, Indiana with her big family of six. She is a graduate of Eastern Hancock High School. Growing up raising sheep, cattle, and hogs, Annalee was an active member in 4-H and completed 10 years. But her true passion has always been FFA. Annalee was a four-year member of the Eastern Hancock FFA Chapter. This year she was named the National Champion in Extemporaneous Public Speaking at the National FFA Convention.  After her year of service to Indiana FFA, Annalee plans on attending Purdue University to double major in Agriculture Communications and Agriculture Marketing and Sales. Annalee hopes to continue to tell the story of agriculture wherever life takes her.

 

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

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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.