If you’ve had the opportunity (or torture, ha!) to hear me speak or have read this blog for any amount of time, it may be clear that I love to share all the wonderful positives that can come about when you choose to take on a personal commitment towards having conversations about agriculture. I regularly encourage more people to take on this personal commitment.
But the truth is that this journey towards communicating about Agriculture hasn’t always been full of positives. Yes, there have been plenty of successes, but there’s also been many mistakes made. I’ve formed friends with people who served and still serve as mentors, but there’s also been plenty of criticism from people in my own industry and outside of it. I don’t want to paint the picture that a commitment to this is all rainbows and sunshine. It certainly isn’t. It is life and it is reality.
However despite all those negatives and mistakes, I still feel called to this commitment. And most of all, I find so much pleasure in helping other people cultivate and dig up a passion for sharing agriculture with those far removed from Agriculture. I feel so lucky to have been granted the wonderful opportunity to be able to go around the country and do just this. I call this an opportunity, because I am not formally trained in communications nor do I have a degree in communications. I learned simply by doing. But it is something I have found that I truly love.
One of the things I’ve learned as I tour around the country and talk with farmers and Ag professionals alike is that a. we all feel a very real and very present NEED for people like me who make a commitment and time to advocate for agriculture, but b. we tend feel a real hesitance to actively do it. It is just easier if we let people like me do it, versus being brave enough to take the leap. Opening ourselves up to criticisms and talking with people who don’t understand what we do most of the time feels like beating your head against the wall. So, most simply don’t do it.
It seems like too daunting of a task. I’m only one person. There are too many people against us. People already have their minds made up. Activists have already reached more people than we ever could. We tell ourselves all sorts of justifications.
But we aren’t heartless; we applaud and support other people who are doing it. But we still don’t jump in. Many of us may feel that some sort of united, nationwide front made up of many people in Agriculture is the solution, but we sit idly by while someone plans or orchestrates all of it.
You are right in that you may only be one person. People’s minds may be made up. Activists may be doing a better job than us. It may seem daunting at times. But I’m here to tell you that what you have to say and what you bring to the conversation matters. It matters whether it includes just you or many farmers across the nation. It matters because of something called the multiplier effect.
I didn’t start my blog to invoke mass change or reach thousands of people. I started my blog because I love what we do and I wanted to share it with other people. I started my blog because I thought if maybe I can reach one person, just one. I’ve done my job. Because that one person I reach is going to reach ten people and those ten people may carry my message to ten more people. And the next thing you know, one simple message, one simple story, one simple concept, one simple photo has the potential and power to reach 1,000 or maybe 10,000.
When I present, I tell my audiences that it doesn’t taking knowing how, it doesn’t take having time; it only takes having willingness. A willingness to talk about what you do on your farm or ranch or even in your Ag related business, essentially to have a conversation. Conversations have the power to change people’s lives; conversations have the power to change the way people look at Agriculture. Maybe only one at a time or maybe thousands at a time. It can be something as simple as having a chat with someone next to you on a plane or making the time to volunteer next time an association has a public booth at the fair. Gasp, I didn’t even mention social media! There are opportunities everywhere to engage and start building trust. It’s up to you where you want to start. I just invite you to start.
And it is my hope that you truly hope that you find a passion and a calling for sharing all the incredible stories and people we find in Agriculture. We all know why we love this industry and the people in it. We all know the amazing stories that can be found here when we dig for the truth, not the sensationalism. Let’s tell the world those stories. It may only be one person at a time, but changing the life of one person makes a bigger impact than none at all. Take some time today. Set aside one small goal. And don’t be afraid to take a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people are receptive to the things you have to share.
If you’re feeling that calling, but you have no idea where to start. Please shoot me an email (jenny at prairiecalifornian dot com) or a note; I would love to help you find where your gifts best suit all of us in Agriculture.