We are awarding a scholarship to AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 Farmer Social Media Training (August 23rd through 24th). See all of the Agvocacy scholarship finalists and vote for your favorite.
A friend of mine involved in used equipment sales in my state encouraged me to begin using social media about a year or so ago. At first, I wasn't so sure people would care about a farmer in North Dakota. I started out sharing photos and information about my day to day activities on the farm as well as my job as an agronomist. And much to my surprise, people commented and began being interested in what I do. Initially, I branded myself “Sunflower Farmer” because well, I farm sunflowers. Now via social media that is what I have become known as. And really that is what interests most people and the way I am best able to connect with non-ag people. Sunflowers are a unique crop and most people don't realize that you farm them. They are also beautiful so sharing a photo of sunflowers in bloom as far as the eye can see, people marvel and then share it. I love that through social media and sharing my photos I am able to share with people (both ag and non-ag) the passion I have for agriculture.
Social media has now become an integral part of my day to day farming activities. Social media has provided me with a valuable resource to connect with other farmers all across the country as well as in my own state. Not only do I connect with people who are also farmers but equipment salesmen, fertilizer and chemical salesmen, basically anyone in the ag industry. If I am having an issue with my crops or some equipment, what better way to solve my problem than hop on social media. Most of the time my social media connections get back to me sooner than if I were to try and call my local salesman. Help from the field is literally a click away.
Besides troubleshooting via social media, I have also found it to be a good outlet for sharing new ideas. Other farmers sharing innovative methods they are trying or trying out new equipment. Rather than talking to my salesman, I can get a real critique about a piece of equipment from somebody who uses it every day. They can tell me the good and the bad and the best part, they may be halfway across the country. But thanks to social media, I can interact with them. To me, these things are the beauty of using social media. And as technology advances, I can only imagine the benefits it will bring to the lives of farmers.
I am completely self-taught when it comes to social media, never before having received formal training. I contemplated attending AgChat conference last year, but this year I was encouraged by several people to at least seriously consider going so I am submitting my application. I think I will benefit greatly from the training mainly because I have been on the fence to start a blog for the Farm. We currently run a Facebook page, but I am unsure where to go from there. I am hoping that through attending it will not only help me develop a vision for my future use of social media but also give me the opportunity to meet with other people who farm and blog. Not to mention, I will get to finally meet so many people I have been connecting with online for so long. Thank you for considering my application and I hope to take a break from farming in August to attend the AgChat conference.
I received a bachelor of science in agriculture degree in 1999 and immediately begun working as an agronomist for a local ag service. I now serve as the agronomy department manager there but my connections with agriculture do not stop there. Not only do I work full time as an agronomist but I also work with my father and brother farming crop varieties such as wheat, corn, and soybeans. But we also farm another crop that has become my brand across social media, sunflowers. Most people don't think of sunflowers as a crop to be farmed, but North Dakota leads the nation in sunflower production. My family has been farming since 1949 when my grandpa started in the same place that my father, brother, and I farm now. Growing up, I was also involved in a commercial cattle operation which we dispersed in 2009 when we decided to move our interests into more farming. We have since invested into more equipment and land in order to grow our business. Agriculture is my passion in life and will continue to be a part of my life and I hope my children's lives as well.