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.

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

 

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.

The Almost Greek Life

This week I have decided to let people know about one of the biggest parts of my life that I try to balance. When I first came to campus there was no way that I was going to be “one of those girls” in a sorority. I knew that there was no way I was going to become one of the stereotypical girls who went crazy when they came to college. I had talked to a friend who was already a big part of campus and a part of the department that I was entering. We had talked about what kinds of clubs and activities she was in, and when she mentioned the agricultural sorority I instantly turned away fromsigma alpha crest it. I had the most closed mind that anyone could have about the subject. I instantly said that it wasn’t for me, but to humor her I said I would check it out come fall. When fall rush came for the social sororities I was confused because I didn’t see the sorority that she was in . I texted her after signing up for the other rush week and she informed me that I had indeed signed up for the wrong thing. Two weeks went by and my best friend was going to rush Sigma Alpha, the professional agricultural sorority. Though skeptical, I decided to give it a shot. I instantly fell into a group of girls with similar interests and most of whoea butts edit were a similar personality to myself. That group has become my close circle of friends that I can count on and hang out with in my free time. We have each other’s backs when it comes to relationships, homework, and professional opportunities. What I also found out is that Sigma Alpha is a professional sorority that focuses on careers and professional development. Sigma Alpha has become one of the biggest consumers of my time between planning events and serving as the rush chair for this school year. It showed me that it isn’t benefitting anyone if preconceived notions get in the way of taking advantage of different opportunities. I am very glad that I have the opportunity to work, play and grow with the group of girls in my sorority.

For more information about the opportunities Sigma Alpha offers and how to join, visit:

http://www.sigmaalpha.org/

 

Travels… Not Safe, but Travels

This past weekend one of my fellow agriculture students and I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri for the 52nd annual Western Farm Show. The purpose of this trip was to work for Brownfield Ag News, based out of Jefferson City, Mo. as employees working their booth at the show. When we began our trek, we  had no idea how much snow that northern Missouri had really gotten, but we found out quickly. We did fine in the snow, but the outermost lane of most highways in Kansas City were at least halfway covered in snow or ice. We finWestern Farm Showally arrived to  set up our booth, and meet Brownfield employees about an hour later. Their mission was to interview vendors at the show and report on their radio networks and websites events and happenings throughout the day. After watching them for a couple hours, and finishing out the day with a cheesy pretzel, it was time to check in to the hotel. We stayed at an averagely nice hotel, nothing too flamboyant. We checked in and decided to get something to eat. We chose some “hole in the wall” restaurant that is native to Kansas City, and they turned out to have some really great food. It was very different than everything we have in smaller places like my hometown, but it was well worth the curiosity. We settled in for the night after dinner and like good students, worked on a lot of homework and went to bed. The next day brought new adventures in actually getting to experience talking to farmers of all different ages and getting to see how Brownfield’s mobile app could help them in what they do. The app consists of customized weather, market reports and news and is available on both Android and iPhone operating systems. It was neat to see the older generation embracing the technology and the younger one utilizing it to it’s full advantages. The Western Farm Show definitely opened my eyes to see that agriculture has taken on a new persona in being a technological career field. It was definitely a good experience to see a lot of agriculturalists in one place, showcasing what they do best: advance the technology to feed the world.

The Importance of Thanking a Farmer

This week in class we were posed with the challenge of creating a video about the importance of farmers and what kind of impact they had on our lives. Each day, billions of people around the world eat and use products that were made from agriculture. Food, fiber, and other products are the main basis of how we survive as a human race. Farmers comprise of less than two percent of the U.S. population and that number is not on an uphill slope. We as agriculturalists have a responsibility to the people of the world and the country we live in to share and to educate people about our lifestyles and how that makes an impact on them. This video shows a story about a stereotypical “city kid” that meets a farmer working in the fields on his tractor and is doing what farmers do. It would be a stretch to say that most people know about the importance and the necessity of what the farmer does with his machinery. The super bowl commercial “So God Made a Farmer” was the inspiration of this project, with it’s words of wisdom from Paul Harvey, an agriculturalist who addressed the National FFA Convention back in 1978. He spoke of what God had planned for his new creation and that the farmer was to be a caretaker for that. How dedicated farmers are, and how innovative they are. This super bowl commercial made the country go silent for just a minute or so and made the world listen. Recently I was visiting my twin brother at the University of Missouri- Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri, and was visiting with his friends when I saw an opportunity to share the commercial. The entire room, not one of them agriculture majors, went silent and watched in amazement as Mr. Harvey spoke so eloquently. They saw the importance of agriculture in that moment, and I hope that the video that we made does the same for at least one person out there; makes them stop and appreciate agriculture for the wonder it is.

Here is the video: