Agricultural Inquiries

The 2013 Missouri State University Agriculture Forum hosted by Missouri State Collegiate Farm Bureau was held at the Christopher S. Bond Learning Center last week. The forum is an evening of speeches about topics that are relevant to the agriculture industry and that gives the general public a chance to ask questions to their political leaders. The forum began with an address from Mr. Clif Smart, president of Missouri State University, touching on the accomplishments of the William H. Darr School of Agriculture as well as an introduction to the main speakers. Following President Smart, came Senator Roy Blunt. He spoke about tax issues and policies that Congress could enact to avoid further financial problems. He also touched on Health Care Bill as well as energy, in which he spoke about the vast amount of resources held by the United States in oil.

Missouri State University students and staff with the speakers at the 2013 Agriculture Forum

Missouri State University students and staff with the speakers at the 2013 Agriculture Forum

Dan Cassidy from Missouri Farm Bureau followed Blunt in speaking about the Right to Farm and Ranch Bill. He spoke of the bill’s passage through the House of Representatives, but also pointed out that the bill was weakened in the Senate. Cassidy said that he hopes to have the bill on the 2014 ballot. In addition, Cassidy touched on health care reform. He stated the fact that a one percent increase in taxes would produce $700 million that would provide care for Missouri roads. To wrap up the evening, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers. The audience provided challenging questions about the Farm Bill, energy and international trade.

Photo Courtesy of: William H. Darr School of Agriculture

The Founder of Agwired.com

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Chuck Zimmerman, founder of http://www.agwired.com, speaks to AGR 399 via Skype last Wednesday.

Chuck Zimmerman and his wife Cindy have been pioneers in the agricultural communications world for years, and their innovation of Agwired.com is one of those pioneering accomplishments that have sent them to expert status. They have revolutionized not only agricultural communications, but also the agriculture industry as a whole with perseverance and haven’t looked back since the creation of their style. Chuck and Cindy are the founders and employees of Zimmcomm Communications, an agricultural communications company that has spread nationally and is a well-known leader in news and event coverage. Chuck and Cindy began their communications journey with degrees in journalism, which quickly developed and helped them form into the social media moguls they are today. They self-taught themselves the vast world of social media and founded one of the first blogs specific to agriculture. For the first couple years they had to educate their potential employers and future clients about what they were doing, and how this would benefit their businesses. For the first two years there were no advertisements or sponsors to be found. The duo now hosts 17 other websites for company blogs and has four online publications that generate income for their household every month. Also, they have turned to social networks that they share blog updates as well as pictures and podcasts about events. One of the main ideas that Chuck shared during his presentation to our class that stuck with me was the fact that his blogs are updated on an average of six times per day. He pointed out that if the blog isn’t up to date and doesn’t have new content, traffic will not come through the server.  Chuck and Cindy have been an inspiration for an aspiring communications students like myself. I am encouraged by their success and hope to have the chance to work with them in the future.

Check out Chuck’s posts and event coverage at http://www.agwired.com!

 

Photo courtesy of: Jamie Bellis Johansen

First Time at the Ring

Block and Bridle

Our judge for the day giving reasons on why he named the winner of the class

This weekend I had a first experience that I am not likely to forget. I attended my very first cattle show at the Block and Bridle Bear Classic, the livestock club that I am a part of. Being a nontraditional agriculturalist, I never had the opportunity to attend a show, and I have to say that I was impressed and astonished at how technical it was and how passionate the exhibitors were about their craft.  There were exhibitors of all ages, from the “Grizzly Bear” class of 22 and older, all the way down to kids in elementary school. The common thread between all of them was the knowledge of the animals and the dedication they had for what they were doing. Trailers started arriving at 6 A.M. with cattle, show supplies, fitting chutes and excited people.  There were three divisions in the show: heifers, bulls and steers. At the beginning of the day I figured that it would be a quick show; that we would fly through the heifer show and then the three bulls and about 20 steers that were present. I found out later that there were about 50 classes of heifers and they were separated by breed and age that made the classes and then we would get to the bull and steer classes. From my past judging experience, I inferred that they would be separated in that way, but the differences between the classes proved to be only about a month in age.

Block and Bridle 2

Show Announcer Cameron Hance and Marie Shelden at the registration table

I was stationed at the prize table, so I was front and center and had the opportunity to listen to the judge and his reasons for choosing the champion and reserve champion cattle. He was mostly looking for conditioning, structural correctness, how they moved when tracked and overall presentation. I am very eager to learn more about this aspect of agriculture, and am thankful to have had the experience. I am definitely more impressed with the show world  than I was going in, and commend the hosts of the show and the exhibitors who made a simple cattle show a great learning experience for me.

Photos Courtesy of: Missouri State University Block & Bridle

How Blogging Has Helped Me Grow

This semester in PR in Agriculture, we have had to blog every week about various topics. I never knew what kinds of opportunities it would bring or how much it has helped me tell my story. Before this class, there was no way that I would be able to do my job effectively and efficiently as I do now. One of the main tasks that I have been assigned at one of my jobs is to create a social media marketing plan that will be implemented next fall. With projects such as the social media campaign that is currently in progress, I have gained skills that I can use to make my place of employment successful. I now have a LinkedIn profile, which I learned about in this class, that has connected me to people where I would like to go to graduate school, as well as employers that I have to use as an arsenal of references in the future. With the speakers we have had such as Judy Graf (FarmNWife), I have learned how to blog effectively and efficiently to where I can perform my job with the school of agriculture and write blog posts for them. The coursework I have done in this class has given me experience that I can put on a resume and be more marketable for future employers in positions in my field. Not many people think about the positive impact that social media and blogging can have within agriculture. This allows us to tell our story and get a positive message across for our industry.

On Top of Mount Stressful

looking at peach

Me and my horse Peach, the ultimate stress relief during hard times

This week has been nothing but stressful. With the end of the semester winding to an end, there are projects due, tests to take, and tasks within organizations that have to be finished. With all these things, plus the stress of the declining health of family members, stress management has become quite the skill of mine as of late. Having to juggle the three clubs I am a member of, 16 hours of schoolwork, two jobs, and worrying about my family, I have made quite the strategy by trial and error as well as using the experience of others. One of the main ways to relieve stress for me is to ride my horse, Peach. She has been that escape that I have needed oh so often lately. This past Sunday I called my best friend and my parents and told them where I was and turned off my phone. I was able to escape the world’s problems for just a few hours. Another method that I have learned is to mediate. I used to think that meditation was one of those things that hippies did and that was a complete joke. I have come to find out that it is not only therapeutic and helps with stress relief, but I have felt the positive health improvements that it has brought. I am able to focus better in classes, I have more energy throughout the day, and not only are my grades improving, I have more motivation to do the tasks assigned to me. The next time you or anyone you know are stressed, I urge you to recommend that they find an outlet for that stress. Ride a horse, mediate, whatever works, just make sure that the outlet is positive for themselves and others.

Agricultural Communications… Huh?

Ever since I changed my major to agricultural communications instead of animal science, every time I say what my major is, I get questioned about what that entails and what I’m going to do with the degree. I didn’t know that this wasn’t a well-known major until I checked Missouri State’s population of agricultural communications majors: a whole six of us. The classes that are required in a communications major can benefit anyone who is planning on finding their place in the business world. ag com 2Classes such as Small Group Communication, Organizational Communication, and Conflict Management can be useful to any professional and business. They provide training in the basics of communicating with co-workers, employers, and customers. In addition, they provide skills in recognizing and adapting to different communication and work styles. Also with this major, I have a wide range of jobs and career choices to pick from. I have the opportunity to put on events such as agriculture education programs for high school students through FFA, work on websites and develop media for agricultural companies, and write for magazines and newspapers that are related to agriculture issues. This degree program is so diverse that I could explore outside of agriculture for a career in business, organizational communication, and even work with leadership camps and programs. What I would like to do with my degree is work in the agriculture industry in a public relations position. ag comThis means that I will focus on company image and connecting with customers. Later in my career I hope to bring agriculture education programs into urban areas and give those uneducated people an opportunity to hear the story of agriculture and realize its importance. This major has helped me realize the importance of communication not only in agriculture, but in the job market as a whole. With this degree I will find my place in the work force and help agriculture tell its story using the skills I have learned and the vast amount of career choices.

Go to: http://ag.missouristate.edu/Communications/ for more information on this major!

 

Photos courtesy of: Oklahoma State University CASNR and Shop.FFA.org

 

The “I” Word… Internship

This past month has been all about finishing up my schoolwork for the semester, doing my part to complete tasks for my organizations that I’m involved in, making sure my work is getting done for caseboth my jobs and preparing for an internship in Pennsylvania. That’s right, I said Pennsylvania; New Holland, Pennsylvania to be exact. I have been offered the position of Commercial Service Intern by Case IH Agriculture. This is my first internship, and I am really excited to be able to work on the east coast for three months. I mapped it out, and living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania puts me three hours from numerous tourist attractions and family: New York City, Canada, the beach, and my brother who lives in Brandywine, Maryland. I will be attending “Hay School” where I will learn about hay production and the machinery that it takes to efficiently produce quality hay. case tractorOnce that is finished I will be training employees on how to run the machinery that I learned to use. Without the traditional production agriculture background, I will be a bit behind, but I will make sure to put forth as much effort as it requires to perform my job at a high standard. This internship is a great opportunity and I am very blessed and thankful to have it. Working for a great company such as Case IH will open many doors within my career field and provide experience that I would not have otherwise gotten. Thank you, Case IH for providing me with this position and the good things that come with it.

Look for more posts and follow me as I blog through my summer internship with Case IH Agriculture!!

 

Photos courtesy of: Google Images and Case IH Agriculture

Blogging 101 by a Farming Wife

Judy Graf

Judy Graf or “FarmNWife” at home with her John Deere Tractor

This week in my public relations class we had a guest speaker by the name of Judy Graf. She has built her blogging “business” from the ground up and is now one of the top agricultural blogs that are followed on WordPress. During her talk last Wednesday, she gave a lot of useful tips that we can use as beginning bloggers. One of those were the top five items that a blog should have: tag line, about areas, contact page, call to action and fast load time. These tips can go a long way in not only the ibloggingnitial design stages of a blog, but maintenance over time as well. The item that I did not think about when I was designing my blog was the call to action. Now that Judy has informed me of the importance of this, follow my blog! In addition, Judy gave unarguable statistics pertaining to businesses that blog. This especially is pertinent to me because I am in the process of revamping my employers’ marketing situation. I think a blog would be a good addition to the bowling alley that I work at, with tips on bowling, billiards and special events. The last item that really hit home for me during Judy’s talk was that she didn’t come from a “blogging” background. She decided to tell her family’s story simply for nostalgia purposes and created a web page that novices like myself look to for guidance. In addition, Judy blogs for her family’s farm, telling what goes on around the farm and what kind of production they do. Judy Graf has become an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can’t learn to blog.

 

Check out her page at: http://www.farmnwife.com

How Social Media Has Changed Professionalism

This week I’d like to talk aboutwitter logot the affects that social media has on the professional world and how each person has a responsibility to take part in that idea. Social media has increasingly become popular with the rise of popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Most people use these websites for personal enjoyment, keeping up with friends and family or creeping on other people’s perfacebook logosonal lives. Recently we have seen a trend that has come about that has linked professional employers to Facebook. More businesses are creating Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as potential employers looking at your accounts when looking to hire. As a manager at the student union on campus, I have been one of those employers who look at the Facebook pages of my employees as well as potential new hires. When I was going through the profiles, I saw many pages that I considered professional and that I would consider hiring. On the flip side of that, I also saw many profiles that were covered in “filth” and that really hurt them when ranked on a list compared to their peers. I know in my sorority we strongly urge our members to keep their social media sites clean, as you never know who is watching, as well as they are representing our chapter as a whole. In addition to looking at social media outlets, professional networking has taken off with the creation of LinkedIn, a networking site that connects all of the professionals you meet across the world. This essentially creates a virtual resume for employers to see and gives an edge to that future employee.

Below is the link for the professional networking website LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/

Check out http://www.simplewash.com to “clean” your Facebook or Twitter account

The Blasted 7 Pin!

This week I’d like to talk about the experiences that I’ve had as a manager at the Level 1 Game Center at the Plaster Student Union on campus. I will admit that this experience started out a little rocky, and I didn’t perform at my best. Eventually I learned that the things that were holding me back were my lack of confidence in employee relations as well as the intimidation that the position brought. The manager is responsible not only for filling out necessary paperwork for the game center, but also disciplining employees, scheduling and working with higher management in team meetings. When I started at this position, I had high expectations of myself to be perfect.

The Level 1 Game Center from behind the lanes

The Level 1 Game Center from behind the lanes

As time went on, I saw that I was not performing at the standard I knew I could. If you were to compare me to a game of bowling, I would be leaving the seven pin, the impossible pin, at the end of every throw. I was letting things like being the youngest employee at the entire establishment and my inexperience in discipline getting in my way. Christmas break came and went, and after that it finally began to click. I became confident in my abilities, was asked to perform more management tasks, and now I am using the skills I have learned in my public relations class to create a marketing plan for this business. I could finally say that I hit that blasted seven pin at least on one throw, I was starting to get it.

This experience ties back to my agricultural communications degree program because that is what I hope to be doing when I graduate from college; organizational communication and public relations for agriculture companies. I know that having managerial skills and the will to persevere through the rough patch I had in the beginning will increase my marketability in the future for the career that I have decided to pursue.