So – I am highly extroverted, can talk to a tree stump, and love, love, love to talk about food and farming. And I travel somewhat frequently for business, and sometimes for pleasure.
Being so overly outgoing, I sometimes… well, I make people very… alert. Especially introverts. So, in order to meet them at a point of comfortable conversation for both of us, I’ve taken to making my opening statement through my wardrobe. They may then decide to engage in conversation, or not.
I travel in T-shirts, unless my schedule is packed so tightly that I have to deplane and hit a meeting. Sometimes I wear one anyway. The AGvocacy community is tightly-knit, so in addition to my Kentucky shirts (So God Made A Kentucky Farmer), I have “Pigs: the Inventors of Bacon” from RealPigFarming, the National Pork Checkoff. I have “Baconista” from the Kansas Soybean Board and Kansas Pork Board partnership. I have “Don’t Fear Your Food” and “Make Food Choices Based on Facts, Not Fear,” from the CommonGround program.
Several of my farmer friends have gifted me with logo shirts, because they know I will wear them proudly. I have some LeCows shirts from my Holstein-loving friends in Paducah, Kentucky, and “Fall on the Farm” shirts from Murray State University. The Hutson School of Ag also provided a shirt with one of Thomas Jefferson’s famous quotes about farming.
The bacon shirts start great conversations about antibiotics, hormones, farrowing crates and gestation stalls – really anything CAFO – while the dairy shirts are great for conversations about lactose intolerance, added hormones and antibiotics in milk, and how we keep milk clean. I’ve had several conversations about cow comfort and educated folks that there are actually such things as “cow butt scratchers.” Oh the places you’ll go, oh the things you’ll learn!
Wearing your topic of choice literally on your body is a great way to start conversations, and I would venture to guess this technique would work just as well for introverts as it does for me.
Nerd trip tip: always travel with business cards and at least a small stash of literature in your carry-on, easily accessible. Mass media and social media are wonderful ways to share our story, but those one-on-one conversations are memorable and hard to beat.
Rae Wagoner is Director of Communication for the Kentucky Soybean Board and the Kentucky Soybean Association, and has found her career to be what she calls the “RGDJ” (redneck girl’s dream job) on her blog. Rae has always lived the rural lifestyle and jokes that she’s only ever dated one guy who didn’t wear the blue corduroy jacket… and THAT was a mistake! She resides in western Kentucky with her husband, Sutton, and her wiener dog, Savannah Jane., and enjoys reading, cowboy boots, wine and photography… not necessarily in that order.