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

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

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 (


  • Scott Vernon: Professor of Ag Education & Communication, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Founder of "I Love Farmers...They Feed My Soul"
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
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.




1 comment:

  1. Meeting you was the first time I was actually interested in Agriculture. You make it seem exciting!! I do realize that heard working women, men and families help supply us with food. I never thought of it more than that, until now.