For years now, I've been in positions to influence others, both within the agricultural community, and with the non-farm public. Significant resources have been invested in me via leadership development programs and opportunities to understand agriculture in the big picture. I've been on farms of all sizes, conventional, organic and everything in between, and in processing facilities of many types and sizes, all over Michigan, throughout the U.S. and in Europe, China, the Caribbean and Canada. I worked on legislative and regulatory issues at the local, state and federal levels. There have been many opportunities in my life. I know a lot about the agricultural system. I continue to feel compelled, even responsible, to share what I have learned with others. I want to be sure that all of the interactions I have are effective, and that I am representing myself, family, farm and the industry in a highly professional manner.
The growth of social media as a means of communication, and as a means of having influence, is undeniable. When generations of people are more comfortable communicating via social media than in face-to-face conversations, I am convinced I must take the story of agriculture to each demographic at their comfort level, wherever it happens to be, and that includes social media.
Then too, there is the notion of modeling the behavior I want to see in others. I've spent the last 30 years convincing other farmers that they need to tell their story or someone else will tell it for them, and I don't want to stop now just because I don't understand a particular technology. I'm sure it will be easier to convince those same farmers that they, too, can effectively use social media if I am. You know, the "if I can do it, anybody can" attitude.
Now, I am not a great writer, nor am I a great speaker, but I am a very good listener! And very good at putting what I learn to good use.
I live it everyday. It's who I am, it's what I do. And I eat three times a day, at least, every day.
UPDATE (Aug. 26): The contest has now ended. Thank you for voting for your favorite. Congratulations to the winner of the 2013 AgChat Scholarship, Anna Leigh Peek.