Young Farmers & Ranchers 2014

I am not sure how this all worked out this year, but for some reason I seem to find myself more often not on the farm and instead I’m out talking to other farmers from all over.  I promise I will get back to the business of farming soon, this week though I’m at one of my favorite conferences, Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference 2014 in Virginia Beach.

AFBF President Bob Stallman

We have heard from Virginia Secretary of Agriculture all about the important of imports and exports to this country’s agricultural industry.  We have heard how a small town girl who didn’t ever think that she wanted anything to do with farming is now the Executive Secretary for the USDA.  She encouraged us to “Talk about what you do and why you do it…because people just don’t get us farmers.”  Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau gave us a challenge to keep working to tell our story, because we have to connect to a new level of consumer.  A farmer that I met just today from Indiana I think summed it up perfectly, “My grandpa started the farm, my dad turned it into a business, and now it’s my job to protect it.”

I think it’s easy to get burned out on certain activities, even for us bloggers and social media folks.  But this is one of those places that you can come to and get re-energized to get back out there and realize that you’re not alone.  Actually the conference has over 1,000 farmers and ranchers who are under the age of 35.  All of who, even while farming across the entire United States are still facing similar challenges and many ways all speak the same language, see the same challenges on the horizon, or even knocking at our back door.  And we all in some way know that we need to do our part to answer that call from Secretary Harden, “To talk about what we do and why we do it…”


All hands on Deck is the theme this year, and there have been many challenges to make sure that you’re doing your part to be a trusted source for consumers and be willing to tell your story.  So with that before I head off on our last day here in Virginia I want to extend that promise to all my readers.  I want to be a source for you to ask questions or even raise concerns.  I can’t tell you that I know it all when it comes to how our food is raised, but I do have a network of over 1,000 of my farmer and rancher friends who are ready to answer that call.


The Awkwardness of Social Media

Like many story tellers I love a good awkward moment and found that at an early age they seemed to find me no matter where I was, so I’ve learned to find all the great humor in it!  Lately though my new found interest in social media has brought about more odd situations to find myself in.  So I’m sitting in a conference, and I see a few faces of people I recognize that I have met through twitter. We’ve all chatted through twitter a few times back and forth on what is going on in the ag community and such, so I go to say hi. I get this awkward look, I introduce my self via my twitter name @ORfarmer and they realize who I am.  From this point on you would think that our easy twitter conversations would naturally lead to an easy face to face chat…nope! It’s almost like we can’t quite wrap our heads around how to talk with the limit of 140 characters; myself included. Our voices are so loud and there is no delete key, how do we control this awful situation?!  I leave feeling completely awkward…what the heck just happened?!

Let’s just say we didn’t talk anymore in person and eventually after the conference we got back to our regular twitter feeds and are keeping up that way, 140 carefully written and hash tagged tweets. This is hard for me to get used to.  I’m a pretty social person but in a way I felt like I was breaking some weird rule about who you can actually approach, maybe there is a precedence that I am not aware of? Then I think “Come on people!” The social media network is a different medium that I’m slowly adjusting to. I got a flyer about twitter pointers the other day and it said on there that you don’t need to know the people that you’re following, or that are following you. This makes total sense now, but at the time I felt like that was so creepy! Now I realize that what you put on twitter is what makes it not so creepy since it’s mostly about farming and interesting things I find and not about how I brushed my teeth a few minutes ago.

So I’m thinking about all of this, trying to not get annoyed at this socially odd situation, when I’m at another event and I see a Facebook friend. We aren’t best friends but I sort of know the person. They even liked something on my page a few days before! I see them, they ignore me, I approach them, and once again it’s awkward. What the heck, maybe I’m just having this kind of luck or maybe I’m the weird one. But really who cares. So here is what I have to say…PEOPLE if you see someone you know say hi, it won’t kill you, and if they say hi first and it’s not (I know this is scary) in typeface and online, get over it and put a dang sentence together…audibly!

I have to say though that awkward moments make for some good stories, so maybe keep it up all you nerdys out there who won’t say hi and just stalk everyone online; because in the end I’m afraid I’m probably one of you 🙂

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