Registration for National Collegiate Congress Ending Soon

All good things must come to an end and sales for the 2015 National Collegiate Congress is not an exception. From now until tomorrow, Friday, January 2nd at 2pmET, we’ll be extending our two day sale which will provide students the optional day of touring Fair Oaks Farms for free when they register for the day of programming.

Why should students attend?

  • Rockstar cast of speakers such as Laura Daniels, Michele Payn-Knoper, Brooke Haney, 2015 AgChat Foundation Collegiate CongressTaylor Truckey, Mark Gale, Carrie Mess, Leah Beyer, Josh Rusk, and Elizabeth Burns-Thompson.
  • Expansive networking possibilities with fellow agriculture students from all over the United States.
  • Opportunity to meet and visit with sponsors and potential employers Dow AgroSciences, National FFA, National Pork Board, Tyson Foods, Alltech, Farm Credit Services, Charleston|Orwig, Truffle Media and Animal Ag Alliance.
  • Connect with leading experts from your demographic
  • Plenty of social time to network
  • An experience you will never forget!

Main sessions:

  • Agvocating Away from the Farm
  • The State of Agvocacy Addresses (includes reviews of advocacy at the college level and post-graduate opportunities)
  • Balancing Social with Professionalism
  • Beginning Blogging
  • Connecting with Commodity Groups
  • Student Panel including a Culinary Student, Nutrition/Dietary Student, Social Work major and general major.

What are you waiting for? Don’t forget this is our last sale and your last opportunity to save before registration closes.

REGISTER NOW – http://agchat.rocks/indy/

Early Bird Discount for 2015 National Collegiate Congress Extended!

The AgChat Foundation’s National Collegiate Congress event scheduled for January 17-18, at DowAgChat Foundation's 2015 National Collegiate Congress | January 17-18, 2015 | http://agchat.rocks/indy/ AgroSciences’ headquarters in Indianapolis, aims to challenge passionate, agriculture, college-students from across the U.S. to expand their social media experiences and shorten the bridge between consumers and their food. The second day of the event will offer an optional day of touring at Fair Oaks Farms on January 18.

Due to popular response, the AgChat Foundation has extended the early bird registration until December 10. The discount provides $10 off the 2015 National Collegiate Congress registration fee and $25 off AgChat Foundation’s 2015 Global Agvocacy conference scheduled for November of 2015.

“I have been to many social media seminars, but most, if not every, teaches to an older audience. They come off as elementary to a person in my demographic that uses and grew up with social media,” says Clayton Glazik, a University of Illinois senior studying Agricultural Communications and Advertising. “It’s refreshing to find a conference focusing on agriculture advocacy geared to my age group.”

“The collegiate demographic is an integral part of the agriculture industry. They are firmly tied to digital connections and when compared to all other demographics, are leading the way in social media. It is only natural that the AgChat Foundation offer an inaugural event targeting college, agriculture students across the U.S.,” replied AgChat Foundation’s Executive Director Jenny Schweigert. “Our training will focus on translating their current social media experiences to an understanding of how to tell agriculture’s story. Essentially, we are taking a proactive approach by fostering the future of the agvocacy community while connecting partners with the best and brightest recruits.”

With support from Dow AgroSciences, National FFA and Animal Agriculture Alliance, the National Collegiate Congress will bring together 165 students to learn about extending their abilities to connecting with consumers.

The event will include sessions on what consumers see and hear, how social media can be improved to tell a story when you are living on campus and away from the farm, how to use blogging, and what it means to make a consumer connection, both on and offline. Attendees can expect a strong focus on networking with other students and exchanging ideas on how to connect with fellow non-agriculture students on their campuses.

In addition, students will learn more about connecting agriculture to consumers through an optional tour of Fair Oaks Farm in Fair Oaks, Indiana. The tour is scheduled for Sunday, January 18 and will include the dairy adventure, pig adventure and the cheese and yogurt factory. A discounted lunch will be offered at the Fair Oaks Farms Farmhouse restaurant, which offers a wide variety of cuisine including Fair Oaks Farms’ ice cream. The tour will provide a hands-on look at how Fair Oaks creates unique visibility of dairy and pork farming.

Learn more about the event at http://agchat.org/indy.

If you would like additional information about the AgChat Foundation, learn more about partnering on this event or to schedule an interview, contact Jenny Schweigert at 309-241-8803 or email execdir {at} agchat {dot} org.

30 Days: People You Need to Connect with on Twitter

30 Days: People You Need to Connect with on TwitterBe Connected We are catching things up after giving thanks for the food on our plates and celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family. Earlier in our series I had mentioned a list of non-ag people who I highly recommend connecting with on Twitter. Do remember that this list is heavy on mom related bloggers because I’m a mom and that is where I make the most connections. However, there are several who go beyond blogging about motherhood. Rather than focusing on only non-ag folks, I’ve also added people who either live or work in the agriculture industry. Fasten your seat belts because here we go…

People On Twitter For You [list created on Twitter for ease of use]

  • @SocialSarab (aka @TravelwithSara )
  • @ChowandChatter
  • @CityChicOnAFarm
  • @5minutesformom
  • @WomanlyWoman
  • @MotherUnadorned
  • @GotChocoMilk
  • @ABloggyMom
  • @AimeeWhetstine
  • @MommieAgain
  • @BruceSallan
  • @SocialMoms
  • @nuckingfutsmama
  • @lcphotooftheday
  • @WritRams
  • @ThisLilParent (podcaster)
  • @SITSGirls
  • @StockPilingMoms
  • @EmpowHER
  • @MelAJennings
  • @Seeds4Parents
  • @TodaysMoms
  • @RuralMoms
  • @GirlGoneMom
  • @CafeSMom
  • @ResourcefulMom (founder of Twitter parties)
  • @247Moms
  • @7OnAShoeString
  • @4HatsandFrugal
  • @JeniEats
  • @DebWorks
  • @SharontheMoment
  • @FoodieChats
  • @Outdoorsy_Diva
  • @LeahMcGrathRD
  • @MomSpark
  • @NotQuiteSusie
  • @BrwnSugarToast

Ag Friends list [list created on Twitter for ease of use]

  • @KatPinke
  • @MNGobbleGal
  • @TruffleMedia
  • @SwineCast
  • @PaintTheTownAg
  • @Arkansas
  • @JodiOleen
  • @FoodInsight
  • @Westacre2CJ
  • @MinnFarmer
  • @AgWithDrLindsay
  • @Renderers
  • @jmheim33
  • @ISU_Farm_Energy
  • @HollySpangler
  • @KDGilkey
  • @CoopedUpCreativ
  • @WifeOfADairyMan
  • @BeyerBeware
  • @AnnaWastell
  • @milkmaid58

Who do you follow?

 

30 Days: Rockin’ Photography Tips

I am asked quite frequently how I make my photos good. While some of it does have to do with the camera you use, more of it actually has to do with how you utilize the tool(s) you do have – be it a point and shoot digital camera, a fancy DSLR or a smartphone. The tips I’ll share below work for any of the above mentioned devices, and I’ll share a mix of smartphone (iPhone5) and DSLR photos.

 

  • Be closer than you think you need to be.  This is done by moving your feet, and getting in tight! Don’t be scared!

 

  • Avoid the junk.  You want the focus to be on your ranch/animals/product/yourself – not the unsightly corrals, or poop on the ground, or (fill in the blank).  I often tell people – I don’t care how cute your kids is, if you take a photo of them in their dad’s cowboy boots, but you’re in the living room with dirty laundry, trash, or toys scattered about in an unsightly manner, the photo will not be as powerful.
Clear out the trash...

Clear out the trash…

south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota, longhorn photos, longhorns, west river cattle

This one is much better, because you focus on the pretty, bull calf and his mom. Not the old, decrepit corrals.

 

  • Do not use the digital zoom. I have no examples of this, because I never do it. So, I’ll tell you what will happen. The photo will get “noisy”, and then it’s not as clear as it would be if you just moved your feet a little closer to the subject. See the first point above! I realize that when you’re shooting wildlife, this may not be possible, but for everyday shooting on the farm or ranch, you’ll get a better quality photo by simply moving closer. You destroy the data on the photo by using the digital zoom and reduce image quality. You’ll want to crop the photo for the best maximum impact, and I talk about that, below.
  • Shoot into your shadow. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is a way for a beginner or budding photographer to learn the best use of light. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see my shadow near the black and white calf. When you’re in mid-day sun it’s not as important as it is a dawn or dusk. Don’t be afraid to move around, but generally you’ll find the best light when you’re shooting with the sun over your back.
south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota cowgirl, agchat, equine photos

Mares stand by a dam in early June- you can see their shadows, are almost directly under them.

south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota landscapes, south dakota, agchat, sweet clover

Shadows in the clouds, show the sun behind me. Utilize the clouds when possible, because they make things more interesting and lead the eye.

 

  • Lead the eye with lines. You can make a very powerful impact leading the eye with lines. Think lines of dairy cows, or fattened yearlings at the feed bunk. This also allows you an opportunity to avoid junk by focusing on the cows closest to you.
south dakota cowgirl photography, cattle, ranch life

Where does this fence go? I lead your eye right to the gray, foggy, overhanging cloud.

IMG_4528

Cows head to the corral at a summer branding.

 

  • Tell a story. I am constantly dreaming up new shots/ideas/things I want to photograph. While it might be weeks/months/years before I’m able to make them happen, I know I’ll be ready when the opportunity presents itself. I try to avoid setting up shots on the ranch as much as possible, because I’d like to capture life as it happens.
south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota cowgirl, cowboy, calving, a cowboy carries a calf

What is he doing? Why is he carrying the calf? This gives you an opportunity to educate with a photo.

  • Don’t take a snapshot – take the time to compose the shot.  By thinking about the story you want to tell, you will be ready when the chance happens, because you will have seen it play out in your mind at least a time or two.
south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, horses in the snow, south dakota

Tell your story – This one is called, “you got somethin’ for me?” The ranch mares are always looking for oats or cow cake in the winter months.

south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, horses in the snow, south dakota

Hello there!

south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, horses in the snow, south dakota

I’m still looking for some goodies! Don’t you know it’s snowing?

south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, horses in the snow, south dakota

Faces in the Snow. Of all the photos in this series, this is the one I’d dreamed up in my head many years before I ever got the chance to take it. But I was prepared when opportunity presented itself.

 

 

 

  • Think about angles. This makes the photograph more interesting and will capture the attention of your audience.
south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, south dakota

Looking up at horses lounging.

south dakota cowgirl photography, equine photography, south dakota

Do you see just the feet of horses or is there more to this photo than that?

 

  • Crop your photos for maximum impact. I don’t want to talk about what makes a great B/W photo now, because that’s another blog post in and of itself (hint hint), but I can say that cropping a photo can make a big statement! Always keep that in mind when you’re getting ready to share your photo with the world.
south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota, equine photography

This is the “SOOC” (straight out of the camera) version.

 

south dakota cowgirl photography, south dakota, equine photography

This is the “after” version.

 

  • Utilize the focus/exposure feature on your smartphone.  If you learn to tap the screen where you want your phone to focus it will help you either make the setting brighter, or focus on what’s closest to you. Either way, it’s a win!

I truly hope you found these tips to be helpful, and if you ever have photography questions, don’t hesitate to look me up.

Happy Trails!

written by Jenn Zeller

_____________________________________________________Jenn Zeller 30 Days of Agvocacy and Social Media - Photography Tips - AgChat.org

 

Telling her story through photos, Jenn Zeller draws a portrait of her life as a cowgirl, photographer, horse lover, columnist and agriculture advocate. You can find her talking about brandings on Twitter as @thesdcowgirl, chatting about gorgeous jewelry and barrel racing on Facebook or lovin’ on her horses at her blog TheSouthDakotaCowgirl.

30 Days: How do people find you on the internet when they don’t even know you exist?

Of course, the answer is via Search Engines (which is really just Google) or via Social Media.

When it comes to being found, you should think of Google as your home page – not your blog’s home page. Because if someone doesn’t know you they aren’t going to search for you – they are searching for what they want to know about which is hopefully what you are writing about.

i.e. They are looking for answers – maybe they hear something about pus in cow’s milk. You, as a dairy farmer, are an expert in cow’s milk. If you write about it then hopefully they will find it.
is-there-pus-in-cow-milk

Google Search Engine Results Page

 

But that doesn’t mean that just because you wrote down what you know or maybe did a little video about it that Google will magically put you at the top of the topic you are taking about.

In fact, there are over 200 different factors that Google has in its algorithm to determine who makes it to the top of their search page called SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

So how do you know what topics you rank for right now?

You need Google Webmaster Tools installed on your website or blog.
google-webmaster-tools

Search Queries that lead to people finding your website

 

Once in Webmaster Tools, you can see a lot of information about your website – what you are ranking for, what impressions you have, what missing pages or broken links you have, etc… This tool is a must if you plan on understanding anything about your website and SEO. So go install it now and then come back. I’ll wait. Seriously.

Once you have your webmaster tools installed (you did it, right?). Don’t just cheat and keep reading. Let’s talk about SEO.

First, what is SEO?

Well, according to the guys at Moz who rock at SEO, they say that SEO or Search Engine Optimization “is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.”

I will try to simplify it by saying doing SEO is like learning the search engine language. You speak English or Spanish or whatever to the people around you and they understand what you are saying. You need to do the same thing for Google. SEO is Google’s language and the better you are at speaking to Google, the higher your chances are for showing up at the top of their SERP.

BTW, does it matter if you are on the first page of a search term?

A BIG FAT YES!

If you are on Page 2 then you might as well be non-existent. The first page means everything – very, very few people move past the first page.

The search query is a term within SEO you should be familiar with. This is what people type or speak into the search box.

Now search queries have changed over the years – it used to be that people only used a few words when typing into Google. But now, people speak or type entire sentences and they revise a lot when they aren’t getting the results they want.

are-dairy-cows-google-autocomplete

You may have noticed that Google uses Autocomplete to try and guess what people are looking for – and they are getting very smart and accurate about these search queries. They will present you a list of 3 or 4 options as you go along and try to lead you in your search pursuits.

Blogging tip – write blog posts based on other people’s search queries and you could find yourself getting more traffic.

So those websites that show up at the top of the search queries on SERPs, how do they get there? How is Google ranking these websites?

Well, there are a lot of factors and Google gives you a high level explanation of search on this website.

google-search-history-60-trillion-pages

But I would say there are just a few things you should worry about.

Google loves relevancy and popularity combined with your location. Pretty simple, huh?

Actually, it’s a lot more complex and if you want to see how the SEO experts break it down, you can check out the Search Engine Ranking Factors from moz.org.

But here’s how I would define.

Relevancy – means how much you talk about your topic.

Popularity – means you have a lot of links to your website from outside sources that say you are a trusted source for this topic. It also means more likes and shares from popular social networks (Google+ is the highest so that can help you decide whether you need to be using that ghost town of a network) and the power of the pages that are linking to you.

With popularity, there are also negative things to consider and that might work against you. If you add lots of videos (not embedded from YouTube – those don’t count) and images on the page causing it to load slow that could be a problem.  Or if you have links coming from websites that are known to be spam or maybe you have URLs with a lot of numbers and your URLs are very long. Google has issues with these things.

Location – the closer you are to the person searching, the better chance you have to coming up. This works really well for local shops and restaurants.

So this is a lot of stuff and you probably don’t have a lot of time to learn a lot of new stuff and do a lot of new stuff. It’s hard enough just coming up with new content so I’ve made a quick and dirty list of SEO things that you should know.

How to do SEO for yourself quickly.

1. Don’t DIY your website. – I know that a lot of people who like to have things look their way on their websites/blogs but you are better off to pick a popular well-used template and install that vs. hiring a graphic designer / coder who may not understand SEO very well.

They could set up your website with some bad SEO practices and then you’ll be hiding things from Google by accident.

2. Install Google Webmaster Tools on your website. – This will help you tremendously in determining how Google views your website. Yes, I’m repeating myself here – it’s that important.

3. Use Xena or Screaming Frog to check for broken links. – Even Google Webmaster Tools can help you find broken links. Once you find them, try and fix them.

4. If you are using wordpress (not wordpress.com or blogger/blogspot), you can use SEO by Yoast to help you fill in the necessary meta data. – Many websites I notice have the same meta data for each page of the website – meta data should be different for each page – that is an easy fix and benefits the website a lot.

5. Make sure you are spreading your blog posts across multiple networks as well as email if you have that. – Your post isn’t done when you hit Publish – it’s just starting. You need to actively push the post through your social networks to your audience. Some cool tools to help you do this are Buffer or Social Oompf.

inserting-image-into-wordpress

6. When adding images and video to your blog, make sure you are adding Alt. Text, Captions and Titles as well as naming the image and video with keywords of what it is. When I build a photo or image for my blog, here are the steps I follow.

  1. Make the photo/image.
  2. Label the photo using keywords with dashes. Like an image of our offices might be labeled dairy-management-inc-newsroom-2014.jpg
  3. Upload to my blog.
  4. Put in the meta data and the caption.
  5. Mark it as the featured image on the page (if necessary due to the template)
  6. Make sure when I share the blog post on social media that the image comes up as part of that post and not the other images on the page.

7. Guest blog on other websites and link back to yourself via your bio. – Guest blogging can sometimes be difficult to do because you have to have trusted relationships with those in charge of the blog you want to be a part of but trust me if you get the opportunity you should do it (but only on websites that are associated with the same topics as your website). Google is cracking down on guest blogging black hat techniques so be aware of that.

How do you begin guest blogging? Follow the blogs you want to be on and reach out. Simply Google things like “best farming blogs to follow”, “best food posts 2014”, “top agriculture blogs to follow”, etc… They will pop up.

8. Take some time and add your website to directories and lists. – Is your blog listed in any directories or lists? It should be. There are many places to add your blog and make sure it gets listed. You can also use tools to “ping” these directories to let them know you updated your post recently like Pingomatic.

9. Longer text is found more often than short posts. – People are scanning the internet still – but they want deeper content. Writing over 1000 words can seem like a lot but I’ll bet if you get going on a post, the words will just flow.

You should edit and keep people interested (adding images and video will do that) but a longer post will be seen as more relevant – that you put more time into it and has a better chance of being linked to and indexed by Google.

10. Quote the experts in the field you want people to find out about you. – If it’s about farming, there’s nothing wrong with quoting from other farmers, government, organizations, foodies, etc…

This marketing technique of calling out the most popular people on the internet has been going on forever but it still works. A lot of real celebrities will probably ignore you since they rely on other media to generate their popularity but internet famous people are usually right there to talk to and get information from. They are also usually very aware when someone talks about them online because they are using monitoring tools like Mention.com or Talkwalker.com/alerts. BTW, you should start using them too to monitor when people talk about you.

How do you measure this is working?
Google Webmaster Tools combined with Google Analytics will help you answer this question but that’s another post coming down the road.

What about you guys? Any fun tips for handling SEO on your blogs?

written by Don Schindler

_____________________________________________________

30 Days of Agvocacy and Social Media - Don Schindler - How do people find you even when they don't know you exist? - AgChat.org

As Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives, Don Schindler is responsible for the digital

architecture and integration of all digital properties at Dairy Management Inc.  He is also training farmers, DMI staff and dairy industry professionals in digital communications and social media. Connect with Don on his website.