Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Tribute from the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film Team

On behalf of the Great American Wheat Harvest Documentary Film Team, we wanted to say “Thank You” for all the hospitality we have received while filming and promoting this national treasure project. We've traveled throughout the Wheat Belt to share the vision for the film.  What has resonated with all of us is the deep appreciation that those with a connection to agriculture have for their rich diverse cultural heritage.  We met so many who work hard every day, if not for anything else, just for the pure love and passion for what they do!

Along with my national executive co-coordinator, Melody Dobson, it has been an honor to work on this national treasure project.  Under the direction of award-winning filmmaker, Conrad Weaver, the documentary will become a reality March 2014.  Conrad has logged more than 70,000 air- and 30,000 driving-miles in 2013 alone, capturing the harvest from Texas to North Dakota to the Northwest and across the U.S. border into Canada.  He also worked with many individuals within the industry from manufacturing, research, marketing and education.  You can keep updated on the film’s progress and our upcoming Premiere Screening schedule at GreatAmericanWheatHarvest.com.

This Thanksgiving, when we sit down at our tables and enjoy the fellowship of family and friends, we will have a true appreciation for the amount of people, energy and work it takes to make “Our Daily Bread”We tip our hats and salute all who have had a part in putting food on our tables. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. 

To show our gratitude, please enjoy a special Thanksgiving Tribute message from Conrad Weaver, Owner, ConjoStudios, LLC; and the Great American Wheat Harvest Documentary Film National Co-Coordinators, Jody L. Lamp and Melody Dobson.

With much Gratitude from Team GAWH...Happy Thanksgiving!

Jody, Melody and Conrad

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Agricultural Education ~ We'll Reap What We Sow

As we settle into the new school year and the concept of having a child old enough to attend junior high, my husband and I have been asked several times why we chose to send our son to the smaller "country" school in nearby Shepherd, rather than within our own "city" Billings Public School District #2.

Well....there are several reasons, but none of which had anything to do with convenience. First, the city school district bus comes directly to our driveway. Unfortunately, the Shepherd district bus does not, so one of us must either drive our son the 10 miles to and from the school everyday; or one mile to the nearest Shepherd bus stop drop one hour before school and one hour after school; or simply make other arrangements until he's old enough to drive himself. So far, we seem to be adjusting to this new transportation juggling.

So, nix the convenience factor and our decision basically has everything to do with more educational and organizational choices. "What??!!" you say? The smaller country school offers MORE, or at the very least, different educational choices than the largest city school district in the state of Montana?? Yes! Specifically, vocational agricultural classes and an organization chapter affiliated with a little, okay let's say, BIG national organization that boasts nearly 560,000 members and 7,500 state chapters called, the Future Farmers of America....or a.k.a...FFA! Yes...the smaller school offers these choices!

"There are two things that make goose bumps go up and down my back: one is Old Glory flying over the nation's capitol when I walk by it at night, and the other is when I see FFA members in their blue jackets. I get an emotional feeling because FFA lifted me out of the depths of poverty and personal problems to the halls of Congress."  Wes Watkins, former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma and former president of the Oklahoma FFA Association.

Agriculture ~ Montana's Largest Industry

Wheat harvest time in the Gallatin Valley
 With the average size farm or ranch at 2,068 acres, Montana currently ranks 5th in the U.S. for lamb production and 6th for wool production and leads the U.S. in organic production for dry peas, durum wheat, and spring wheat.
Statistics and photo  from the Montana Dept. of Agriculture.
When I think about agricultural education being offered in our Montana public schools, I have to wonder why the Billings Public Schools, which serves about 16,000 students in grades K-12 in 30 different schools located across the city, don't offer these courses. After all, the latest statistics from the Montana Dept. of Agriculture website indicates that agriculture continues to be Montana's largest industry with nearly $3 billion in income generated on more than 29,000 farm and ranches.

Wheat and beef account for about three-fourths of the state’s agricultural receipts, but pulse crops such as peas and lentils are gaining ground. Other crops include barley (#3 in U.S.), honey (#5 in U.S.), and oilseeds such as safflower and canola. Montana also is known for its hay, sweet cherries, sugar beets, and seed potatoes.

I'm certain that Billings Public School District #2 officials would inform me that my children could still get "agriculture" education options by sending them to the Career Center. However, course work there is only available to sophomores, juniors and seniors. And, even at that, I can't say I'm too impressed with the "urban agricultural" classes offered there, including:
Course Description: This course is designed for the student that has a genuine interest in the “Green Industry” with an emphasis on plants and environmental factors that affect them. Learning will take place through a combination of indoor/outdoor laboratory activities.
Environmental Studies
Course Description: A one or two-semester course in which students examine the complex ecological, sociological and political problems created by human interaction with the Earth’s environment.

Luckily, for parents like us who live on the west or east outskirts, we can apply to have our children go out of district to either Laurel or Shepherd. Here's what the Shepherd offers:

Agricultural Education: A sequential set of course offerings for students 7-12. The programs is designed to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and experience in and about agriculture. Ag Ed prepares students for further eduction, self-employment, entry-level jobs and consumer awareness in the agriculture industry. Courses currently offered: Agriculture Education 1, 2, 3 &4; Ag Construction, Horticulture and Jr. High Wood Shop.

Thank you President Lincoln!

Vocational Agricultural, as it was formerly called, started in Montana in 1917 with the passing of the Smith-Hughes Vocation Education Act of 1917. But even before that,  I can't help but think of and thank Abraham Lincoln for his contribution to agriculture education. The Morrill Act, which would provide a federal grant of 30,000 acres of public land for each senator and representative in Congress to establish land-grant colleges, was first proposed in 1857 by Congressman Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, and was passed by Congress in 1859. However, it was vetoed by President James Buchanan.

Meanwhile in 1858, Abraham Lincoln, a "prairie lawyer" in Springfield, Ill., was using the  Farmers' Almanac 's for one his most notable criminal trials. He defended William "Duff" Armstrong, who was on trial for the murder of James Preston Metzker. According to Wikipedia, the case is famous for Lincoln's use of a fact established by judicial notice to challenge the credibility of an eyewitness. After an opposing witness testified seeing the crime in the moonlight, Lincoln produced the Farmers' Almanac to show that  the moon was at a low angle, drastically reducing visibility. Based on this evidence, Armstrong was acquitted.
In 1859, Milton W. Reynolds, editor of the Nebraska City News, had this to say about establishing a colleges of agriculture and studying the act of "farming":

"One of the most visionary, impractical, unnecessary and useless schemes for the political self-aggrandizement that was ever thought of, is this of building agricultural colleges all over the country. They are a sinecure, perfectly useless, absolutely detrimental. We want the sturdy bone and sinew, the strong arms and and stout beard, to cultivate our soil, not gentleman farmers, kid-gloved, cologne-scented and pampered gentry, with a smattering of science -- with a strong compounded laziness. Agricultural colleges have been tried and have resulted in miserable....failures."

Milton W. Reynolds (1823-1890) - Writer, politician and newspaper publisher, 
Reynolds was editor of the Nebraska City News until 1861.


Thankfully, Abraham Lincoln didn't feel the same at Milton Reynolds. Nearly a year before he was elected the 16th President of the United States, Lincoln addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society:

"This leads to the further reflection, that no other human 
occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and 
agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, 
as agriculture. I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind, 
as the discovery of anything which is at once new and 
valuable -- nothing which so lightens and sweetens toil, 
as the hopeful pursuit of such discovery. And how vast, 
and how varied a field is agriculture, for such discovery. 
The mind, already trained to thought, in the country 
school, or higher school, cannot fail to find there 
an exhaustless source of profitable enjoyment."
Abraham Lincoln

In 1861, Morrill resubmitted the act with the amendment that the proposed institutions would teach military tactics, along with engineering and agriculture. Aided by the secession of many states that did not support the plans, this reconfigured Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862.

Sow the Seed, Reap the Harvest
This past week at Harvest Church, we wrapped up a lesson series called, "7 Laws of the Harvest". Our pastor gave examples of what we understand from the natural world and how it translates and puts into perspective our personal spiritual walk. He reminded us that we can't put seed in the ground one day, and expect to harvest it the very next day. It takes time, patience, cultivating, nurturing and some weed pulling. And sometimes....when we've done everything right, we will reap more than we sow. So, here's the lesson...be careful what you sow. Sow little...reap little. Sow lots....reap lots. Sow bad....reap bad. Sow good...reap good.

Continue to take agricultural education out of our school curriculum....we're left with a bunch a kids who grow up to be adults that think their food comes from the grocery store. Worse yet...we have people with no agricultural background making policies and regulations telling those who do know how to farm and ranch how they should be operating their businesses.

I admit that our "sports-broadcasting" fanatic 7th grader may never take after his mother's love and enthusiasm for agriculture or pursue a vocation specific to agriculture. And that's okay with me. But what my husband and I hope to do by sending him to a school that offers elective agricultural courses, is to instill in him the knowledge, appreciation and understanding of this industry and the hard work and energy it takes to make our nation's food. Here's praying we are never hungry enough to take food for granted. I hope when our son is out in the "real world", our little "Lamp" may be a beacon of light for another child or adult who can come to know and understand what generations of America's farmers and ranchers and those associated with agricultural have done to produce and maintain an abundant, safe and affortable food supply in our country.

It sad to me that the largest city and the largest school district in our state does not offer agricultural education and FFA to the extent that its smaller, neighboring schools do. I'm grateful for the school options and food choices we enjoy today. All we know how to do and to keep doing is "planting the seeds" of agricultural education where it needs to grow.

"Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up," Galations 6:9

Montana FFA was chartered in 1930 as the 38th state to join the National FFA Organization.

Proud to be a parent of a junior high FFA member and  NEW Shepherd FFA Alumni Member!

Friday, July 19, 2013

News and Updates from the Producer/Director of the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film

 We're in the middle of wheat harvest season across the country and our film crew has been traveling and capturing footage and interviews with harvesters, farmers, and others involved in the wheat industry. Check out our Facebook page to see photos and updates from our journeys! We've been to the following places: Vernon, TX; Guymon, OK; Canadian, TX; Shattuck, OK; Garden City, KS; Leoti, KS; Colby, KS; Goodland, KS; & Limon, CO. Check out the map of our path on the right.
Here's our upcoming schedule and tentative locations:
July 22-24: Imperial and Scottsbluff, NE
July 25-27: Wall, SD and surrounding area
July 28-30: Billings, MT and surrounding area

We've put together an awesome design for a T-shirt promoting the Great American Wheat Harvest film. Orders are coming in quickly from all over the world! It's amazing to see how many people around the world are interested in our film! Be sure to order your T-shirt here.
We've recently announced that A Total Manufacturing Company has joined us as a Silver Sponsor! With its roots deep in the agriculture industry, TMCO and National Manufacturing work with wheat breeders, food research laboratories, universities and companies worldwide that all have direct links to the food supply chain. We're so grateful for their support!
NOW is a great time for your company to join us as a sponsor! We're looking for Producer's Club level sponsors and we're looking for someone to step up an become our first GOLD Level sponsor.
For more information about all of our sponsorship opportunities, please contact me, National Executive Co-Coordinators, Jody L. Lamp at 406-698-9675 or send an email to: jody@greatamericanwheatharvest.com
To make a contribution now, click here: 

Thank you and hope to see you as we travel North with the harvest crews!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day + Husker Bling + Ag Advocacy = A Love Thing!

Happy Valentine's Day 2013!  

A year ago today, I shared in my Valentine's Day blog that the founder of Hallmark Cards,  Joyce C. (J.C.) Hall, an 18-year-old entrepreneur from Nebraskawho first started the Norfolk Post Card Company, moved the entire business to Kansas City, Mo., in 1908, in no more than two shoe boxes. By 1913, Hall and his brothers were operating Hall's department store, selling postcards and greeting cards and in 1928, he marketed the cards under the "Hallmark" brand name. 

At a time when advertising was considered a waste of money, Hall began creating and placing ads and soon established Hallmark as the most recognizable brand name in the industry. Today, some may refer to Valentine's Day as a "Hallmark Holiday", or one that primarily exists for commercial purposes, rather than a holiday simply set aside to celebrate the loved ones in our life.

  I happen to think that Mr. Hall was just one smart Nebraska kid! But I digress....

Fast forward 100 years to 2013, the Hallmark Card company still calls Kansas City home and the "BBQ Capital of the World" now attracts some of this nation's largest agriculture conventions and shows.

I recently attended the AG CONNECT Expo and Summit, a global trade show that features the latest innovations and technologies in agribusiness products and services. Along with my co-national executive coordinator and filmmaker/producer of the Great American Wheat Harvest (GAWH) documentary film, we hosted a V.I.P. Breakfast Reception, where our sponsors and custom harvester "rockstars" had a chance to speak about their participation in the film to other attendees:

Barry Nelson, manager of media relations for John Deere Ag and Turf Division, addresses Great American Wheat Harvest V.I.P. breakfast reception attendees.

 We debuted our NEW trailer:

and attended many coinciding functions of the U.S. Custom Harvesters national convention including a concert of the Canadian-born, now U.S.-residing country music group, High Valley:
From L to R: GAWH National Executive Coordinators, Melody Dobson and Jody Lamp; High Valley lead singer, Brad Rempel; GAWH filmmaker and producer, Conrad Weaver; High Valley's Curtis and Bryan Rempel.

And on the eighth day, God made a ......... 

While many, okay..... a few..... of my passions in life, including my faith, family and career, go beyond my love for my Nebraska Huskers, I was pleasantly surprised the week after returning from Ag Connect that wearing my Husker "bling" to my podiatrist appointment would incite an agriculture advocacy conversation.  

Sidebar: Amongst other things....20+ years of choosing "style" over "sensibility" in the shoe department has done a number of my wheels....I will eventually need a complete overhaul! But I digress.....

It was just a few days after the Dodge Ram,  "So, God Made A Farmer" commercial aired during the Super Bowl. Even in your own living room, you could sense that like you, the entire viewing audience must have stopped.....took pause.....and listened again to that famous radio voice of  Paul Harvey's, say...."So God Made A Farmer."

"So, you like football?" my podiatrist asked, upon noticing my jewelry. "I see you like the Huskers. Did you watch the Super Bowl?"

"Yes, I do and yes, I did!" I answered. "But I didn't watch the Super Bowl for the teams that played...I watched for the commercials."

My podiatrist ensued with barrage of  comments:

"Oh! Did you see that 'So, God Made A Farmer commercial?!

"Wasn't that awesome!

I talked to a friend of mine and told him, 'Can you believe that there are people watching this commercial right now, who don't even realize where their food comes from.'"

"Yes, I know," I said. "Hard to believe...but it's true!"

Dodge agreed to donate up to $1 million to the FFA Foundation based on its YouTube views. In less than five days, the video surpassed 10 million views, allowing Dodge to donate the full $1 million.

A Love Thing

I love all of agriculture....from the farmers that grow our grains and vegetables to the ranchers that raise our protein. I'm fortunate to have grown up in a state and live in a part of the country now where I am still amongst those who have a direct connection to those who produce and harvest their foods. As I travel and continue to build my social media presence, I know and become increasingly aware of the disconnect that continues to separate the urban vs. rural, ag vs. non-ag, city vs. rural, organic vs. conventional.....it's beyond alarming to hear our U.S. President and Secretary of Agriculture talk about the possibility of sequestration and across the board budget cuts, that would include furloughs of necessary USDA inspectors to ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is correctly labeled and packaged.

The furloughs would force meat and poultry plants to close during that time. As the largest component of the U.S. agricultural economy, closing the meat and poultry businesses as contemplated by the Secretary would, according to USDA, cause production losses of $10 billion, cost company employees more than $400 million in lost wages, and impose untold losses on the more than one million livestock and poultry producers in this country. In a letter from J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute, Boyle sites these facts and asks President Obama in the event of sequestration, that the USDA meat and poultry inspectors not be furloughed so that the Secretary of Agriculture can fulfill his statutory obligations.

I know I may never have an audience as large as the State of Union or Super Bowl viewing public, but what I do know, is that even through my career as a pr/marketing professional, I can be an ambassador for agriculture and part of collective voice of truth for the industry.  

Through groups like the American Agri- Women (member of both the Western Nebraska and Montana Agri-Women);  the National Agri-Marketing Association (a proud NEW member of the Cornhusker Chapter) and projects like the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film.....I can do what I love....advocate for agriculture....and end my work days knowing that my talents and abilities were used to help share information to increase knowledge for generations to come.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Not Where We Start! It's Where We Finish!

As we look forward to 2013 with plans and resolutions...I am motivated to reflect on several moments from 2012 to not only encourage myself to never settle for what masquerades superficially as "What Is", but rather to focus on "What Is Yet To Come!" Hence...the title of this blog post: "It's Not Where We Start! It's Where We Finish!"

What I discovered and appreciated with the start of a new year was the opportunity to reevaluate and refocus my career goals. With prayer, guidance, amazing love from my Lord, family and friends, I started this “Bright Ideas! Brighter Future!” blog and renewed my Lamp Public Relations & Marketing business. Through those actions, I met "life changing" people and made strides that I never imagined possible. With that said, here's a reflection and dedication of my Top 7.5 Audacious New Year Ideas that may be life-changing for you too:

1. Reconnect with Friends/Business Acquaintances: If you escaped the holiday season without sending any Christmas cards or writing an annual family letter...use the month of January to reconnect with friends and business acquaintances and tell them what your goals are for the new year. By doing this in early 2012, I was able to help with the publicity of two local media/public relations events ~ one for the Harlem Globetrotters through MetraPark and one for Women of Faith. Also, by June...a grade school friend connected me and my business with a friend of hers who was looking for some strategic marketing and planning expertise for her new business, Prairie Preservations

One of the publicity stops with Harlem Globetrotters Ant Atkinson allows time for my kiddos to come meet this basketball hero.

2. Use Social Media to Expand Your Network: Since starting my Twitter account at  (https://twitter.com/lampprpro) in Nov. 2010 at the annual American Agri-Women convention, I've significantly expanded my circle of influence.  For example, during a February weekly online Twitter chat through AgChat Foundation,  a farmer-led foundation "empowering a connected community of agvocates", I connected with an independent, Maryland-based filmmaker, Conrad Weaver of ConjoStudios, who reached out to me about helping him market and promote a project called the Wheat Harvest Movie (now called the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film). Knowing the scope and magnitude a project like this would entail, I was able to connect with a local independent communications consultant and in April we collaborated our businesses for this project and were named the National Executive Co-Coordinators. 

 3. Appreciate Where You've Been...So, You Know Where You Can Go:  The Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film allowed me and Team GAWH several opportunities to travel back to my hometown area of western Nebraska. Growing up near Scottsbluff and having been away from the area for more than 20 years, I never imagined a national/international project would have hometown ties. I consider it an honor and privilege to have come from such a stable and encouraging upbringing, so I am able to take that experience and enthusiasm with me wherever I go. One of our trips to Scottsbluff included working with Teresa Scanlan Miss America 2011, who hails from Scottsbluff/Gering, on a public service announcement and appearing with her and the filmmaker on KNEB Radio to promote the film.
Above: Teresa Scanlan Miss America 2011 and Jody Lamp, National Executive Co-coordinator, Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film. Below: Conrad Weaver of ConjoStudios; Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011; and Jody Lamp of Lamp Public Relations & Marketing, appear with Kevin Mooney of KNEB Radio on News Extra.

4. Find Your Passion to Empower Others: While working throughout the spring and summer developing and implementing the strategic marketing plan and fund development program for the film, for a few months I also wrote a weekly agricultural-based column for the Gering Citizen newspaper. With the help of national AAW president, Karen Yost, in May, my business partner and I were able to work once again in western Nebraska with local business leaders to help start a NEW AAW affiliate ~ the Western Nebraska Agri-Women.
New members, congressional and AAW representatives at the inaguration of the NEW Western Nebraska Agri-Women event in Scottsbluff/Gering, NE

5. Believe the Unbelievable...... Believe that you will meet people you have never met before...Believe you will go places, see and do things you never dreamed about before...And most of all...believe in your strengths and capabilities. One of the most spectacular things I  got to witness this past year was the Guinness World Record Breaking Harvest For Kids event when farmers from many different communities in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan area came together to bring in a record harvest of 249 combines rolling down the field in front of thousands of spectators all with the goal of bringing hope to kids around the world through Children’s Camps International. (the following photos appear courtesy of Harvest For Kids)

6. Invest Time in Yourself:  Even if your travel schedule overwhelms you or you think it's selfish to take a break from your family to concentrate on a personal project or dream...DO IT ANYWAY! You'll never regret the time you take to spend time alone. In a blog post I wrote earlier this year called, "STOP!! Smell the Roses!" I shared how my business partner and I carved out two extra days after some business travel to concentrate on our personal projects. My project is four years of researching, organizing and writing of a historical period in the development of our nation's horse/agricultural industries. I continue to be fascinated by my findings and encouraged to press on. I highly recommend never putting off doing today what may not be here tomorrow.  Life is too short and fleeting to take casually. 
7. Continue To Learn....School is Never Out for the Pro: Globally and locally, agriculture faces an ongoing plethora of challenges ~ productive landmass decline, food production practices, government regulations, consumer awareness or lack thereof....As I've traveled and worked with my fellow agricultural enthusiasts, organizations and associations throughout the United States and Canada, I'm inspired to pursue a master's degree in leadership education. While researching several options, I've already inquired and met with chairperson at my alma mater's University of Nebraska-Lincoln's department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. What are you doing to increase and expand your knowledge base?

7.5  And lastly....Never Be Afraid to Let Your "Light" Shine: Even when we think no one is looking...someone is always watching to see how we will rise to occasion, respond to a situation or how we will step out boldly to lead the charge. If you're not satisfied with where your life/career/family goals are at this moment...remember..."It's Not Where We Start! It's Where We Finish!" that counts. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes and bid you a prosperous new year! Go MAKE great things happen in 2013:

Our Deepest Fear

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
 Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. 

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 

We are all meant to shine, as children do. 

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.