Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How I Spend My Sept. 11's since 2001

I believe like most Americans do on this day since Sept. 11, 2001, I spend today reflecting and appreciating the blessings in my life: my parents, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my country, and most of all, my relationship with my Lord and Savior.

One of the most famous pictures from 9/11, photo of three firemen raising the American flag at the site of the World Trade Center attacks. Shot by Thomas E. Franklin, of The Bergen Record, the photo first appeared on Sept 12, 2001 under the title, Ground Zero Spirit. The paper also put it on the Associated Press wire and it appeared on the covers of several newspapers around the world. The photo was a finalist in 2002 for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news photography.

Sept 11, 2001  
"Where were you when the world stopped turning ....on that September day?"

The north face of Two World Trade Center (south tower) immediately after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175

I will be forever grateful that on that particular Tuesday morning, my day began like nearly every other day had been for me the previous four years.When my husband and I moved to Montana in 1997, the Milwaukee, WI/Lincoln, NE-based public relations and advertising agency I worked for then ~ Bader Rutter & Associates ~ allowed me the opportunity to continue working with them and set up an office in my home.

My husband had already left for work and our nine-month-old son was playing on the living room floor when I turned on NBC News in New York City to watch Katie, Matt, Ann and Al and catch the morning news. By that time, five hijackers had already crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center's North Tower. I called my mom in Nebraska to see if she had been watching the news earlier that morning and had heard anything. She hadn't, so we said our "love you's" and hung up. Soon after, I watched in shocked as another five hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower.

At that point, I picked up my son and held him as tightly as I could. I knew what was happening could be no accident. I started to rock him more for my own comfort than his. Through tears, I prayed, "Dear Lord ~ please be with all those babies whose mommies and daddies went to work in those Towers today."

I called my husband's work and was talking with his boss when the five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. There was no doubt that our country was under attack and would never be the same.

 What Are You Thankful For Today?

What I was thankful for in 2001 and what I am thankful for and passionate about in 2012 has only intensified. Beyond the blessings I mentioned earlier, I consider it great honor and privilege that I continue to work with individuals and businesses in the public relations and marketing field advocating, promoting, educating, and sharing information about all aspects of agriculture.

Everyday I awaken with an attitude of gratitude for the ability to live and work in these United States of America. Herein lies my passion:

Meeting up with my fellow ag advocate and dear friend, Heidi Nelson of Harvest PR & Marketing, at the Ag Media Summit in Albuquerque, NM

"Amber Waves of Grain" ~ The beauty of an eastern Montana wheat field right before harvest

Talking with  Conrad Weaver, executive film director for the Great American Wheat Harvest (Wheat Harvest Movie) documentary film, and Tracy Zeorian of Zeorian Harvesting & Trucking, who was here all the way from Manley, NE to harvest spring wheat with her husband, Jim, near Jordan, MT. I wore my Husker hat and shirt to make Tracy & Jim feel at home. Melody Dobson, my business partner and national executive co-coordinator on GAWH took the pic.

Taking a pic of my co-National Executive Coordinator, Melody Dobson, as we meet up with the Zeorian Harvesting Crew, who are featured in the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film trailer.

May We Never Forget 

This week as I travel to Nebraska for Husker Harvest Days and Kansas with my co-National Executive Coordinator to represent the Great American Wheat Harvest, I find myself recommitted, dedicated and driven to fulfilling the purpose of the life God has granted me. I love what I do. I hope that you in turn love what you're doing, love who your are becoming and love who you are yet to become.

The events of 9/11/2001 are a reminder to us all that life is too short not to love every minute of it.

"Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: 
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” -- President George W. Bush September 11, 2001.

 "Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to Heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?"
"But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, Hope and Love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is Love......." 
Lyrics from "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson

Thursday, August 2, 2012

STOP!! Smell The Roses!

Home = A Place to Hang Your Hat
I love hats! And the hats I wear typically have a story or a sentimental reason or I just wouldn't adorn them. Until recently, I hadn't realize how attached I had become to one particular hat of mine until I misplaced it or simply lost it! I couldn't pinpoint when, but suspected missing my 131st Kentucky Derby hat around the same time I had traveled back to western Nebraska for the American Agri-Women Informational Summit and stayed at my new "home away from home" the Scottsbluff Barn Anew Bed & Breakfast.

Scottsbluff Barn Anew

The Long Shot

For at least the past 20 years, my cousin who lives in Indiana takes a short drive south across the Ohio River and crosses the Kentucky border to Louisville. She heads to a gift shop near the historic Churchill Downs horse racetrack and gets my dad his April 18th birthday gift in the form of the current Kentucky Derby's souvenir logo t-shirt and hat. 

In 2007 after accumulating quite a collection, my dad gave me his 131st Kentucky Derby souvenir hat ~ a black colored baseball cap with the the famous Twin Spires embroidered in white stitching and a red rose. On May 5, 2007, a gray three-year-old colt named Giacomo, a 50-1 long shot, came down the center of the historical race track with hall of fame jockey Mike Smith to win the second-greatest payoff in Derby history. Giacomo's owner received a first-place check of $1,639,000 for the victory.

Giacomo, a 50-1 long shot winner of the 131st Kentucky Derby

The 2010 Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Churchill Downs holds a special place in my heart as my dad and I were able to attend both horse racing days that year. When I was younger, we owned Quarter and Thoroughbred horses, on and off the track. And every Labor Day weekend, we've traditionally made our way to a racetrack ~ to hear the Call to Post, see 120 pounds of jockey maneuver 1,200 pounds of muscle down the stretch and cheer the winners across the finish line. So, it should be no surprise that I have nearly every word of every scene of the movie Secretariat memorized. 

More than three thousand years ago a man named Job complained to God about all his troubles and the Bible tells us that God answered. 
"Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck 
with a flowing mane? 
Do you make him leap like a locust, 
striking terror with his proud snorting? 
He paused fiercely, 
rejoicing in his strength and charges into the fray. 
He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing, 
He does not shy away from the sword. 
The quiver rattles against his side, 
along with the flashing spear and lance. 
In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground. 
He cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds."

So, for the record, to have lost my favorite Kentucky Derby hats was disappointing.

Back at the Barn

Last month for the third time this year, my Great American Wheat Harvest business partner and I traveled back to Nebraska and stayed once again at Barn Anew. We worked for four days. We traveled two days for the documentary film to meet with potential corporate sponsors. The remaining two days, we carved out time in the Barn's newly renovated Bunkhouse meeting room to concentrate on our own personal projects.

My project has been four years of researching and writing in the making. It was a blessing to finally set aside time specifically devoted to a mission and passion I believe only God could have placed on my heart. To add a special touch to our environment, we arranged with the Barn Anew owner, Cher Maybee, to have a vase of fresh flowers each placed in our working area. The flowers of her choice ~ a fresh bouquet of roses.

As I paused a moment that afternoon to "STOP, Smell the Roses" and take a picture of the beautiful arrangement, I noticed a black colored baseball-style cap on the Bunkhouse wall. Taking a closer look, I realized and exclaimed through joyful tears, "THAT'S MY KENTUCKY DERBY HAT!!!"

I verified with the owners that it had been left there about a month before by one of the guests ~ ME!! 

Moral of the Story:

Had my business partner not convinced me to invest time in developing my own personal project, goals and deadlines; 

Had my husband and family not been fully supportive and believed in my skills and abilities 110% like they always have; 

Had I not taken that one to two seconds of time to just stop and smell the roses;

I may never have found my Kentucky Derby hat and realized that gentle nudge of assurance that I was right where God intended me to be that day. It was a great reminder to not take any day or any person in my life casually and to enjoy and cherish every minute. As the saying goes, Life is not a dress rehearsal!

I'm excited and grateful to be heading to the Ag Media Summit in Albuquerque, NM, later this week for an opportunity to network, learn and connect with my agricultural media, agency and business friends. And to meet and make new friends. I plan to savor each moment. May your week be as equally blessed. 

And remember, Stop!! Smell the Roses!
You never know what treasure awaits you!

Calling my dad to let him know that I had found my 131st Kentucky Derby hat!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30! Is Your Year Half Over? Or Half Started?

A dedication to the celebration of the life of Mark P. Weiland:

I typically never write or post blogs on Saturdays. But today I make an exception to honor and celebrate the life of Mark P. Weiland, our dearest friend, whose life seemed to be taken from us all too soon. Just two months passed his 30th birthday, Mark, as a passenger in his own vehicle, was involved in accident that I believe can now only be characterize as "it was just his time to go home."

In fact, it was the words spoken by minister that day officiating his funeral that comforted us the most ~ "It was Mark's time to go Home....to be with his Heavenly Father....."

Treat Every Day As A Gift

Not too many days go by that I don't think about our best friend Mark, whom we affectionately referred to as "The Duffer!" I honestly don't recall how he came by that nickname. I'll have to ask my husband to remind me some time, but I think it had something to do with his golf game. It's easy to recall Mark's larger than life personality, his contagious laugh and smile, and most of all, his generosity, kindness and love for his family and friends.

We honor his memory today and everyday since Dec. 30, 2000, when my husband and I named our first child  ~ Mark Michael Lamp ~ after him.  Since then, we remind ourselves to approach each day with an attitude of gratitude, with purpose, passion and conviction to do what is right and what is best for the greater good, to treat others the way that we would like to be treated and to honor God with our actions and words in the process.

 "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short,
 but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." ~ Michelangelo

Find Your Passion! Make Great Things Happen!

I take my purpose and passion to promote agriculture and to be an advocate for the industry as a whole very seriously.  In my last blog post, I talked about setting a 52-day goal to see what you accomplish. With that said, how do you view today ~ June 30, 2012?? Half Over?? Or Half Started?? While you evaluate your answer (and I hope share it with me as well) thank you for allowing me an opportunity to share examples of what putting action to your dreams and goals can accomplish in less than six months:

  • Meet new, like-minded people and become business partners!

  • Meet an Advocate for Agriculture, like Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan!

    •  Help start a NEW Affiliate for the American Agri-Women!

     Certainly, these accomplishments reflect my dreams and goals. I'm a firm believer that any one of us can accomplish what we can not begin to fathom or comprehend when we let go of the ungodly and unnecessary obstacles in our lives. During a sermon, I heard one of our pastor's say, "People who start well are a time a dozen. People who finish well are rare and special." 

    Be RARE!! Be SPECIAL!! I plan to view June 30, 2012 as HALF-STARTED!!  
    I know that's how my friend Mark P. Weiland would see it.
    And I know that is what my Heavenly Father has called me to do too!! How bout YOU?? 

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    You've Got 52 Days. GO!!

    Blogger's Note: Life continues to surprise me. You can be going along in what you have come to know as your daily routine, when someone or something can take it in a completely different direction. As I was working on this Bright Ideas! Brighter Future! blog post, "You've Got 52 Days. GO!!" a few days ago, I got message from my dear friend Kris Lupher, who wanted to let me know that his mother, Luci, had passed away earlier that day. The title of this blog post comes from Nehemiah's accomplishment of rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem in just 52 days. After hearing from Kris, I realized his current age, 52 years! That's the length of time his mother got to spend helping build her son's life before being called Home to join her husband, Kerm. So, somehow, what I was writing, seemed even more timely as we celebrate the glorious gift of Easter and I wanted to take time to reflect that message! Thank you for allowing me to share this spiritual journey with you and the thought of Leaving a Legacy for others to know, learn and grow from in their own lives. Praying for peace and celebration of the life of Kerm and Luci Lupher ~ May they be celebrating together again and smiling down on the legacy they left in their children, Kris and Jill, and their families.

     Not 52 weeks! Not 52 months! Not even 52 years did it take Nehemiah  to repair and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and gates upon returning to the city in 445 B.C. as the provincial governor of Judah/Yehud. 
    Nehemiah had served as the high official in the Persian court of King Artaxerxes I at the capital city of Susa, when he heard about the sad state of affairs in Judah. He acquired the king’s permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its fortifications. He is even given letters from the king to ensure safe passage and to obtain timber from the king’s forest for the gates and walls of Jerusalem.
    Upon arriving, he immediately surveyed the damage to the entire city on his well-known night journey around the walls (Nehemiah 2:12–15). Enlisted the help of the people to quickly repair the breaches in the wall. Urged them to set up guards to defend against the constant threat of those who opposed their efforts, including the armies of Samaria, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites.
    He didn’t take advantage of food and land allotments that were allowed him due to his office. He made the other nobles and officials forgive all outstanding debts and ordered them to return all land and money that had been taken as taxes so the people would be able to feed themselves and their families.

     Just 52 Days

    Nehemiah's work on the wall was completed in just 52 days! The Book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament represents one man's example facing an overwhelming task, yet staying GOAL FIXATED!! We recently finished a series at Harvest Church called "Out of the Rubble", based on the Book of Nehemiah. Pastor Vern's  messages throughout the series reflected that ""When you're doing God's will, you will always be criticized." Especially by those who want to impede your progress. But rather than retaliate ( a normal human response), we are to respond in Prayer. Then, Continue to Work. Stay Focused on the Goal. Respect the Vision that God has set before you.

    At the top of the eastern ridge of the City of David, Nehemiah and the returned exiles built a new city wall. Although they simply repaired the pre-existing walls elsewhere in the city, the wall just above the steep Kidron Valley was too damaged and too difficult to mend. So they relocated the eastern wall higher up the slope and, according to author Eilat Mazar, built it directly on top of a ruined wall of King David’s palace (also known as the Large Stone Structure) and its massive rampart (known as the Stepped Stone Structure). Zev Radovan

    To this day, you can go to Jerusalem and see the wall that Nehemiah helped direct and rebuild. It has sustained the test of time and enemies for more than 2,500 years. Nehemiah was able to create a Revival amongst God's people, who had become careless towards the Lord. Pastor Vern shared a Big Idea! with us that after a Revival, there must be Reform ~ a change in us for their to be a change in the world. He challenged us to change our ways to make something Good, Right and Beautiful.

    As we reflect on this day, Good Friday, the day that we, as Christians, commemorate the passion, or suffering, and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, on the cross, let's think about what we are doing in our lives to leave a spiritual heritage ~ a Legacy. Who of us could say that if we were given just 52 Days to tackle one of God's assignments, could survive both the opposition and apathy it would take to leave a lasting impression that would last more 2,500 years?

    Let's work together to becoming Reforming Agents of Christ's sacrifice 
    and love for us. Happy Easter, my friends!

    Leaving a Legacy ~ the Lupher's! 

    In loving memory of Luci Benzel Lupher 

    (Dec. 7, 1934 - April 4, 2012)

     Luci Benzel (Lupher's) high school graduation picture ~ Scottsbluff High School 1953

    Lupher's Elevator 

    In western Nebraska, you don't even have to refer to the town of Minatare for folks to know where the iconic symbol of agriculture is located. I remember as a little girl going to Lupher's  with my dad. Back then,I didn't understand or realize all the crops and products associated with the grain and feed mill, I just knew that's where we bought our horse feed.

    But what I did realize was that the "Lupher" name and elevator was an iconic symbol to our town of 800-some residences and synonymous to Minatare itself.  From the perspective L.P. Lupher's  grandson and my good friend, Kris Lupher, I share his thoughts from the legacy that was handed down to him:

    "The cement storage house was state-of-the art when it was built in the 1940's by elevator contractor L.P. Lupher Jr. (2nd youngest of my grandpa L.P.'s 4 sons Marvin, Jack, L.P. Jr, and my father Kerm).

    The foundation for my respect and admiration for those in the Agriculture field was built right here at Lupher's. My Grandpa L.P."Dave" Lupher, my dad, Kerm, and my uncle Jack all took part in teaching me that more than sore muscles are to be gained from hard work... the work ethic and self respect that I gained here were the greatest gifts."

    Lupher's sold the elevator in 1989 and Kerm passed away April 10, 1999. Just 13 years later, within a week of each other, Kerm's lovely, but feisty, Luci, joined in him in their heavenly home, on April 4, 2012.

    Lucille E. Lupher, 77, of Minatare, was born Dec. 7, 1934, on the family farm near Haig, to C. Pete Benzel and Anna Elizabeth (Bott) Benzel. She proudly grew up on the farm in Mitchell Valley, attended Haig School, and graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1953. She married Kermit Lupher on Nov. 19, 1956, at Raton, N.M., at which point she realized she also married into the world of sports. She started out as her husband Kerm’s biggest fan as she followed all his baseball and basketball games and later in life developed a fierce competitive spirit while following her children’s and grand children’s events. 

    The Lupher's around 1963: Luci and Kermit with children, Kris and Jill

    She was an avid bowler for many years acting as league secretary for several years. The Luphers purchased the Gambles Store in Minatare, and owned and operated it until 1958. They then owned and operated Lupher’s Elevator in Minatare until 1988. “Luci” had a great love of animals especially her most favorite scotty- Beans.

    She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law Kris and Debra (Stricker) Lupher of Gering; daughter Jill and Loren Hill of Reding,CT; grandchildren Marlee and Alex Lupher both of Gering and her brother Harold Benzel and sister-in-law Gloria Benzel of Dixon, CA along with her many cherished nieces and nephews.

    Kris, Luci and Jill: April 2009

     When I think of iconic figures and the people that I know that have made a lasting impression in my life, I will think of my friend, Kris Lupher and his family. 
    God Blessing's to you all!

    "Remember me with favor, O my God" ~ Nehemiah

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    An Agricultural Metaphor ~ Back Home!

    It takes about 6.5 hours to drive the 450-mile stretch between our home in Billings, Mont., to my former stomping grounds in western Nebraska. After 15 years, I know nearly every crack and crevice of the two interstates and two-lane highways just about as well as I'm beginning to know the wrinkles carving their way onto my 43-year-old forehead. With the entire family (hubby or Papa & two kiddos) or by myself, the trek continues to require a couple necessary pit stops in Wyoming.  

    Having lived away from my Nebraska Panhandle now longer than I lived there, I remain a Husker at Heart! Other than seeing the faces of my mom, step dad, three sisters, family and friends, nothing says "YOU'RE 'BACK HOME'" more to me than the view of the Scotts Bluff National Monument in my windshield. I admit, I've shed a happy tear or two even seeing that sandstone rock from the window seat of an airplane upon returning home for a visit from college.

    Not only for myself, but I'm certain for other former Panhandle residents, the Monument serves as a natural "landing page" in our memory-recall. Even diaries and journals of 19th century westward emigrants, who traveled by covered wagons along the Oregon, Mormon and California trails, noted the natural marvel. History reflects that more than 250,000 travelers made their way through the area between 1843 and 1869. 

    Scottsbluff and Gering, a.k.a., the Twin Cities, today boasts about 22,000+ residents. Besides the North Platte River, a little cross-town rivalry occasionally separates the two cities. But you see residents pulling together like recently, when Teresa Scanlan, from Gering was named Miss Nebraska 2010 and later Miss America 2011, becoming the youngest Miss America crowned since 1937. And when the 2011-2012 Scottsbluff High School Boys Basketball team brought home the state Class B Championship trophy for the first time since 1955.

    Sunday = Fun Day!
    I know its easy to take every essence of the people and environment around you for granted when it's all that your eyes see daily. Objects and emotions become sedentary......complacent.......unattached. For those reasons, that why I appreciate going "Back Home" to Nebraska. I always look forward to recalling the memories I made during my formative years and the new ones I make with my own children and extended family now.

    Sunday's have and will continue to be my favorite day of the week: waking up to read the Sunday paper....hearing meadowlarks sing from fence post perches....heading off to Sunday school and then church.....anticipating the mmmmm....mmmmm...goodness of my mom's fried chicken and mashed potatoes.......responding to my dad's desire to go for a Sunday drive to only-God-knows-where....and topping off the day with some ice cream from the local creamery and a good Disney movie on TV. 

    Sunday's have been days of celebrating births.....baptisms........Easter holidays......graduations......visits from friends........reaping the harvest for which we have sewn..... and most importantly for me now than ever before, listening intently to God's word. 

    On this last trip back home, I was able to attend church service with my sister and mom in the same church that my hubby and I were married in nearly 16 years ago. The scripture reading for the day came from John 12:20-36. As I looked to find the passage in my Bible, my ears perked when I heard the worship leader say, "Today's timeless word is an 'Agricultural Metaphor', in which Jesus predicts His own death and explains to His disciples in verse 24: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

     I sat in amazement of God's grace and steadfastness when I realized how much he has always made Agricultural an integral part of my life. From as early as being a 4-H'er in Scotts Bluff County; showing market lambs and stocker feeders; participating in livestock judging; majoring in journalism and getting the "Ag Beat" for my J-School newspaper; writing for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agricultural & Natural Resources; being hired as an agricultural reporter and photographer my first year out of college; only later to be recruited by a public relations and advertising agency to write for one of the largest fertilizer company's; and now having my own public relations and marketing business to work with those associated with agriculture.

    Which, when you drum it down, we ALL are associated with Agriculture. Farmers and ranchers grow and raise food. We, as consumers, eat food for nourishment and sustainability. Pretty simple! 

    So, when I have remained faithful and obedient to God's nudging, He has always brought something to do with Agricultural into my life. I look forward to being the New Ag Columnist for the Gering Citizen Newspaper and helping meet the public relations and marketing needs for the upcoming documentary film, the Wheat Harvest Movie.   Looking forward to both adventures and having additional outlets to "agvocate" for our American farmers and ranchers.

    I hope you will join me on this journey! Because, as in life, recalling the Agricultural Metaphor of Jesus, when you have a seed and it sits by itself ~ it bears no fruit! We need to work as a community of "seeds" to thrive!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    So, I Smell Like a Sale Barn! You Bet I Do!

    When it comes to social media sophistication, you might qualify my husband, Mr. Lamp, a.k.a. "Lampy" and the surname behind my  Lamp Public Relations and Marketing business, as a casual Facebook-friendly bench warmer. Sure, he has a page. Sure, he has few family and friends and has accepted requests by association. But is he out there posting his thoughts daily? Uploading pictures, albums or videos? Or tagging his friends or "checking-in"? Yeah, not so much.

    And that's okay! He's willing to learn and that's more the point. Lampy works for Axiom International as a national sales representative. The company has been a Billings-based, family-owned importer of general merchandise since 1983 and Lampy has worked there since 2000. Axiom offers its retail customers a variety of products ranging from party goods, pet toys, to sun and eye glasses. Lampy knows the new "cold call" has become connecting through a social media outlet. And, he's working to embrace that concept.

    So, that's where I, with all my social media expertise (I have more than two Twitter followers ~ which makes me qualified since he doesn't even have an account or knows what's so "Pinteresting" about Pinterest) swoops in to coach my team captain! Actually, since I started my trek down the social media yellow brick road of networking communication, he looks at me as the family "Oz" expert. Plus, I have been asked on several occasions to speak, train, track, promote and utilize social media for my clients.

    "Sniff, Sniff" Do You Smell That??
    When the opportunity came this week to invite Lampy as my guest to the  Billings Advertising and Marketing Club luncheon to attend his first social media marketing training, I suggested he pick me up from my office at Billings Livestock Sales Commission.

    Upon arriving and anticipating the introductions and start of the program, Lampy leans over, and what I thought would be an expression of affection from the man I've been happily married to for nearly 16 years, and says, 


    "Yes," I whisper back.

    "You kind of smell like the sale barn!"

    Well, I'm certain that some women might take that verbal observation of their husband's olfactory system and translate it (as we often do) to the following:

    "Hey Honey! You STINK!" 

    Well, let me tell you why I REVERE, "Honey, you kind of smell like the sale barn!", as ONE OF THE BEST compliments he or anyone could have ever given me!

    Billings LiveStock Commission (BLS) ~ Montana’s Pioneer Market
    In 2009, I started Lamp Public Relations & Marketing to serve as resource/partner with existing agencies; and/or to add value to businesses that have in-house marketing departments. As a public relations and marketing professional, in addition to more than 20 years of agricultural experience as a daily newspaper reporter & photographer; PR agency senior writer to account executive; public speaker; business owner and marketing executive; I have developed a deep appreciation for our American farmers and ranchers. 

    Social media certainly is not a fad, so adding the “Bright Ideas! Brighter Future!” as a tagline and now as a blog for my freelancing business was an attempt to help shed a positive light on promoting business and share stories that would help empower others.

    Here are the reasons I choose to have my office at BLS ~  a "sale barn" ~ One of the Oldest, Continuous Livestock Auctions In America:
    1. THE HISTORY ~ "Back in 1934, the Wolff Brothers left Denver, Colorado and landed in Billings, Mont., striking up a partnership with the late Arthur “Art” Langman.  Originally, they created a horse and mule auction and later added cows and bulls. Located on First Avenue North, they leased facilities from the Northern Pacific Railroad and set up shop.
    Billings LiveStock Commission was the hub market as the Wolff-Langman Partnership developed markets also in Great Falls and Miles City, MT.  Along with auctioneer, Norman G Warsinske and cattle buyer, Lyle Devine, they created a livestock merchandising endeavor that has never been equaled.
    In later years Art’s son, the late A.J. “Jerry” Langman and Ralph Cunningham, along with a fieldman by the name of Conrad Burns, now Montana’s US Senator, continued the BLS tradition.  During the late 1970’s Scott Langman, Jerry’s son, became the third generation operator and moved the Billings Live Stock Commission to its present location (home of Lamp Public Relations & Marketing) on the North Frontage Road east of Billings.
    In 1984 Scott sold the business to Patrick K. Goggins, who operated it for some years.  Pat sold it to Jack McGuinness, who operated it for sixteen years.  BLS was  purchased in 2003 by Goggins, who totally rebuilt the stockyards, revamping it from head to tail.
    BLS sells cattle every week on Thursdays for all classes.  The 4th weekend of each month, BLS becomes the “Horse Selling Capital of Western America”.  500 to 1100 head sell on any given weekend. The Northern Livestock Video Auction base operation is also located at BLS.  Several video sales a year are staged to an international market.

    2. THE PEOPLE ~ At the risk of sounding like a name dropper, let's just say I have the opportunity to be around the Best of the Best in the cattle and horse industries any given day of the week. From World Champion Auctioneers, Saddle Bronc Riders, Team Ropers, Reiners, Cattle & Horse Breeders, to any and everyone associated with the livestock industry. Consignors and buyers have traveled to BLS for nearly 80 years from every state of the union (except for Hawaii I'm told) for the tradition of livestock selling through an auction. I have met people from New York, Florida, California, Washington and every state in between at BLS. The current BLS Horse Sale Managers, Jann & Bill Parker, are the best in the business promoting the horse sale market. The February 2012 BLS Horse went down in the books as the best Feb. horse sale since 2007. 

    "No where in the United State can they (buyers) find the numbers or the quality they are able to see each and every month in Billings." ~ Bill Parker

    3. THE MARKETPLACE MAGIC ~ I was on the auction block during a weekly cattle sale in May 2010, when I heard 2009 World Champion Livestock Marketing Association Auctioneer Ty Thompson, lean back from his microphone, after selling 500 lbs feeder steers for $1.35 (cwt), and say, 

    "Holy $#^t! I can't believe that just happened!" 

    "MARKETPLACE MAGIC" had just happened on the auction block AGAIN at BLS and I was personally there to witness the cattle market prices swing upwards that day! History as it happened!! Thompson reports that he has seen the cattle market explode since that magical day at BLS. This past fall in 2011, he sold 200-300 lbs feeders for $2.20-$2.30 (cwt). 

    "That's the highest we've ever seen it," he says. "We have never seen it that high since, but that day was pretty shocking too."

    I've personally seen pedigreed stud horses sell in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. And with that said, I've also seen well-trained ponies sell for as high as $14,000.

    I don't know where else in the United States you can see this plethora of livestock ~ both cattle and horse ~ and bring this amount of consignors, buyers, prices in one place. If you know, please tell me!! I doubt I will move my office there. But in the meantime, if you want to find me in the Lamp Public Relations & Marketing office, just come to Billings Livestock Commission ~ the most successful combined cattle and horse sale barn in the United States.

    And when you leave....you might just smell like a "sale barn" too!!

     I sure hope you don't mind the smell of success!!

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    A Salute to "Agvocates"! Meet My Friends!

    My life revolves around agriculture. Always has! Always will! Yours does too, whether you think you're directly involved in crop or livestock production or not. If you eat food, you have a connection to agriculture. Today, as we celebrate National Agriculture Day, I'm reminded of my journey and dedicate this blog to recognize and salute some of the "agvocates" I have had the distinct pleasure of connecting with through social media or meeting in person and learning from these past few years! I "tip my hat" to them and the tireless hours, energy and resources they put into bringing awareness and understanding to the agricultural industry. 

    The Journey
    Up until my advanced reporting class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with my fellow journalism students, I only had an slight indication of my desire to become an agricultural journalist. Had it not been for every one of my J-School classmates rejecting the "Ag" beat, I may not have ever started writing for agriculture or started my own public relations and marketing business in June 2009. My passion then and now continues to be perpetuating, portraying and "agvocating" every and all positive aspects of what our American farmers and ranchers do.

    It all started with social media. After jumping into Facebook and connecting with other "agvocates" I attended my first Montana Agri-Women meeting May 2010. I became a member that night when I heard, "Montana Agri-Women are a force for truth!" 

    Later that year, I attended my first American Agri-Women national convention and became even more connected with those who had been in the "agvocating" trenches for longer than I could have imagined. Who could be against agriculture? Certainly an eye-opener to hear just how prevalent and powerful those opposed to livestock production had become through social media outlets.

    In Dec. 2010, it became even more real to me. My travels took me from Billings, Mont.,  to Las Vegas for the first Summit of the Horse event. Not only did the event offer an opportunity to be amongst resounding leaders in the horse and livestock industry, including the well-known Temple Grandin, but it produced a onslaught of foes, including a television news station anchor who only interviewed the likes of a well-known animal rights "blogger" and took her rhetoric as fact for his story and coverage of the event. Not only did he use her as his only source of information, but it was later discovered and determined that she gave false identification in order to attend the event.

    That's why we continually need those in agriculture to step-up their advocacy efforts and become an "AGvocate" for their industry.

    Time to Meet My "AGvocate" Friends

    • Mindy Patterson: Communications & Media, Missourians for Animal Care
    "I am working to fight against the threat of the radical animal rights movement nationwide. The threat of which is attempting to destroy the very heritage of American horseback, farming culture, and animal ownership -- and is ultimately an assault on American's private property rights.
    Mindy remains diligent as one of the organizers for 2nd International Summit of the Horse - April 2-5 - Oklahoma City - The Summit is a gathering of men and women who make their living with horses, and those who care deeply about ecological balance on healthy lands. Also a summit of concerned citizens who understand what is necessary to keep the land, the horses, the people, the cultures, and the economies vibrant and healthy.

    “Now is the time for all of those who care deeply about the land and the horse, to come together as ethical and moral horse people, and find ways to address ignorance and a lack of understanding by activists and policy makers.”
    Update: Since the first Summit, President Obama signed a bill from the Ag Appropriations committee that for the first time since 2005, did not contain annual riders banning USDA inspection of horse meat, thus opening the door for horse processing in the United States to resume.   
    However, the fight to restore the humane and regulated horse processing that will help restore the horse industry and normalize the equine economy continues. For more information on how you can help, go to summitofthehorse.org

    Ace of Sales  
    Jody & her friend Mr. Freckles at Billings Livestock Commission


    Ace of Sales

    Tips for "Sharing Your Story"

    1. Use social media outlets like Facebook or YouTube to upload your videos.

    2. Forget being Perfect or Polished in the beginning!! Try Passionate and Positive!! Gets your point across every time!!

    3. Just ASK!!!! No one has told me "no" yet!!!

    Ace of Sales

    American Agri-Women: Overview & Mission

    American Agri-Women is the national coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business organizations. It seeks to educate its members and the public about agriculture and to promote agriculture and women's leadership.

    AAW's mission is "to be a force for truth, a reasoned, non-partisan voice for the agricultural community to the public." It is not an auxiliary to any other farm organization. For more information visit http://americanagriwomen.org

    Ryan says he's just an ordinary kid from Arkansas who grew up on a cattle ranch and wanted to get out of Dodge. His family operated a commercial Angus and stocker cattle operation where he soaked in the ranch life.

    He's currently working on his Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He became involved in blogging and social media because of his passion for the cattle industry and wanted to share his experiences with others. 

    "I want to hear what others have to ask, share my knowledge, and sometimes learn with them. I want consumers to become more educated about food production before they criticize our work, and hopefully gain an appreciation for the work those of us in agriculture do daily. I want to hear others share their stories so we can stand up with a strong voice and tell the world how we produce the food on every plate. This is my journey, and I welcome you to come along for the ride."

    Follow Ryan's journey:
    Other blog titled “Sitting in the Pasture
    Videos on YouTube at AgProud
    "Friend" Ryan on Facebook and join the I am Agriculture Proud fan page
    Follow Ryan on Twitter as AR_ranchhand and use the tag #AgProud with your posts
    Send Ryan an email with questions, comments, or suggestions (agricultureproud@hotmail.com).


    • Scott Vernon: Professor of Ag Education & Communication, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Founder of "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul"
    •  http://ilovefarmers.org
    Scott Vernon started "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul" in 2009 as a response to political events in California surrounding the Proposition 2 ballot initiative by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on poultry cages, veal production and swine gestation crates.

    With Vernon as the lead, the effort was launched by a passionate group of college students as a unique, fresh and creative campaign to engage young people in a conversation about their food and who produces it. Entering its third year, "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul" has become one of the most popular efforts to support American family farmers and ranchers.

    In a recent interview with the High Plains Journal, Vernon explains, "We are not a school club or a member organization. We are a 'movement,' much in the sense the way environmental groups are movements. We grow from grassroots enthusiasm and passion of young people. We organize around college campuses for convenience, but are not officially associated with any school,"

    The group uses phrases and sayings on a variety of merchandise (the sell of apparel helps fund the cause) with phrases, "I'm hot. I'm dirty. I farm." And the most popular merchandise features the text "WTF? Where's the Food? Without the Farmer?" 

    Over the past two years, the group has had several events in conjunction with fairs and agricultural activities. The first original event was held on Nov. 10, 2011, and was called "WTF? Day 2011." Teams of students from Cal Poly, Fresno State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Arkansas came together wearing WTF? T-shirts and spent the day on their campuses talking to their peers, asking them about their food and starting conversations.

    "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul" is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Donations are tax exempt. Support is needed and appreciated. To purchase apparel or learn more about I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul, visit one of their sites on the Internet:

    • Michele Payn-Knoper, Cause Matters Corp.

    Helping to connect farm & food. Michele Payn-Knoper (MPK) is a professional speaker inspiring connections for agriculture advocacy, food literacy & conversations about both. See http://causematters.com/.
    Michele Payn-Knoper, Cause Matters Corp.
    For 10 years, MPK has been connecting the farm gate to consumer plate. She speaks around the world, building a community focused on agvocacy, such as #agchat/#foodchat on Twitter. 
    Giving a voice to the people who feed the world by connecting farming with food choices, MPK also provides agricultural advocacy training, motivational farm keynotes and consulting for hand-selected projects related to agvocacy leadership, social media strategy and rural economic development. Check out MPK's social media sites at:

     "God Does Not Call the Equipped! He Equips the Called"  
    So, do you think you have what it takes to be an "Agvocate"? You bet you do! Remember, if you eat food, you're connected to agriculture! 
    One of the best greeting cards I ever received came in the form of a "Thank You" from the Johnson County CattleWomen of Wyoming after being one of the guest speakers at their first summit. The note stated, "Thank you so much for speaking at the first annual Women's Ag Summit. You were a hit and we love your energy and honest love for the ag industry. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!"
    Honestly, I'm certain that I enjoyed it more! While it wasn't the first time I  had an opportunity to speak to a group, it was the first time I organized a presentation on How to Use Social Media in Agriculture. Thanks to Michele Payn-Knoper's advanced social media class at the American Agri-Women national convention, I felt confident and equipped!
    I do not take my passion, energy and honest love for the ag industry lightly. I will do my part to use the tools like social media to continually share our stories for truth and hope for others to do the same. 
    As we celebrate National Agriculture Day 2012, go thank your American farmers and ranchers. Their livelihood and our future are at "steak". It's the reason we "AGvocates" do what we do.