Looking Forward and Giving Thanks

I can barely describe how excited I was when, last Friday, I received an e-mail notifying me that I had been accepted to the first-ever AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. Me! Just a little ol’ college student trying to become an agriscience teacher who loves to tweet with ag folks in her spare time. But alas, here I am and I couldn’t be more pumped about getting to head to Chicago for this awesome experience!

The AgChat Agvocacy conference will be, as I shared with a friend, a lot of information in a little time. In just one day—noon to noon—people involved in the agricultural industry from all across the country will meet in Chicago to network and learn about how we can become better advocates for agriculture (ag-vocate…get it?!) through utilizing social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We’ve already seen what a difference social media can make for agriculture through the efforts of individual farmers and ranchers on topics impacting their farms and the weekly #agchat and #foodchat conversations. This conference will be an amazing chance for 50 farmers and ag industry professionals to learn how they can make a difference and connect with consumers, too.

Besides learning the skillset, I am also excited for some other factors that come along with the conference. First, I am really looking forward to meeting all of the great people who will be attending. For almost a year now, I’ve known them as a personality behind a Twitter handle. Whether they’re a college student in Illinois or someone who loves Southern agriculture, the most I know of their face is a tiny little picture and who knows what they sound like! I can’t wait to get to see them face-to-face, have a live conversation, and learn about the people behind the tweets. I know how amazing they are already, so I’m sure I won’t be disappointed!

Another thing that I’m looking forward to is seeing how everyone presents the material in our workshops. As a future teacher and current student, I have a huge interest in utilizing social media in my classroom and presenting workshops for my colleagues on how they can use it to enhance student learning and connect youth with others in the industry. Participating in the AgChat Conference will be a great way for me to watch and learn, so I can pay it forward.

Thankfully, I will be able to attend the AgChat Conference with the sponsorship of some great organizations. I would again like to express my gratitude to the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and GreenStone Farm Credit Services for their never-ending support of me and, really, all youth looking to pursue a future in agriculture.

If you are an individual, organization or business who would like to financially support other agriculturalists that have been accepted to the conference—GREAT!! There are several accepted participants that are looking for the generous support of people like you. Feel free to visit some of their blogs here and here to find out more about them and their journey to Chicago. It’s an honor to be chosen for the conference and we hope that no one will have to turn down that opportunity because of cost. To inquire about any other farmers or ways to support the AgChat Foundation, please feel free to contact them at info@agchat.org.

Finally, I know the volunteers of the AgChat Foundation have put in a lot of time and effort to make this conference possible. Thank you for your dedication and I can wait to meet you in August!!

Amanda Sollman is a senior at Michigan State University, majoring in Agriscience Education with a concentration in Communication and a minor in Biology. She is a past 4-H and FFA member and has held internships with Michigan State University Extension, the National Swine Registry, and the National Association of Agricultural Educators. After graduation, Amanda plans to pursue a career teaching high school agriscience.