Some people do not even bother reading or watching the news anymore because that information is delivered to them via Twitter or Facebook. That being said, I believe farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole has a responsibility to use social media to tell the story of our way of life to a non-agriculture audience. Whether it be a picture of putting seed in the planter or a video of doing chores during a snowstorm, it is important for us to explain our way of life to those who have maybe never seen a tractor or a pig in their life. Social media allows farmers to reach millions of people at once, something that has never been possible until this generation.
By receiving Agvocacy 2.0 training, it would be my goal to take the skills I learn and the relationships I make and use that information to help other farmers and agriculturalists to share their story like I do. More than anything, I would like to use the Agvocacy 2.0 training conference to develop a network of relationships throughout the country. While I am fairly new to AgChat discussions on Tuesday nights, I have noticed a very loyal following of users who have developed these relationships with each other. I admire what I see in those instances, and it would be my goal to develop similar relationships during the Agvocacy 2.0 conference. Additionally, I would like to learn more about Twitter and how to use it effectively. I’ve only been active on Twitter for around six months and would love to learn more about best practices that experienced Twitter users employ.
Through my work with the University of Illinois Extension and their social media outlets, I have been very successful on Facebook and Pinterest with the use of agricultural infographics that I’ve created; however, I would like to work towards similar success on Twitter. Overall, I believe that social media is here now, and it is not going anywhere. It is imperative for the agricultural industry to be active and engaging on social media, especially during this time where so many are questioning our way of life. We have a responsibility to cast a positive light on our way of life, and social media allows us to do that in an effective way. The Agvocacy 2.0 conference would allow me to sharpen my skills in order to become a better face of our industry, as well as develop relationships with other agriculturalists who share my passion to do so.
Coming from Central Illinois, I grew up on a small family farm where we raise purebred Berkshire hogs and grow corn and soybeans. Just recently my family has partnered with a local family dairy in order to market our Berkshire meat to high-end restaurants in the Chicago area. My hog operation also includes show animals that I market to local 4-H and FFA students for their fair projects, as well as breeding stock that are sold across the country from regional and national Berkshire shows. My love of growing up on my family’s farm caused me to continue studying agriculture at the college level. Currently, I will be a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the Fall. I am studying agricultural leadership and sciences education with a minor in crop and soil management, and after graduation I plan to pursue a career either as a high school agriculture teacher or in public relations somehow advocating for agriculture. I am very active in the Illinois Farm Bureau, and also work heavily with agricultural advocacy projects for numerous organizations. In the future, I plan to return to my family’s farm (at least part-time) and continue the tradition.
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.