Why Agriculture: An Open Letter from a High School Senior

kelli blog 2 photoHere I am, a high school senior, taking part in my final days of this stage in my life. Right now, as we approach graduation, filling out scholarships is a big task. The question “What’s your intended major?” arises quite often followed by “Why have you chosen the major stated above?” I always answer with, “Agricultural Communications” and then proceed with my reason why: “I grew up in this industry…I want to make a difference within agriculture…my passion lies here.” Although each of these statements is correct, my reasoning for why I am choosing a major in agriculture goes much deeper. It wasn’t until filling out a scholarship application today that I realized that. So, here’s a letter to agriculturalists in my community, state, and nation explaining why I choose agriculture. Here’s a deeper reason for why I’m choosing this major.

kelli blog 2 photo 2Dear dedicated agriculturalists,

It’s because of you. You are the reason I write “Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication” on every scholarship application. You are the reason I toured the college of agriculture on East Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. You are the reason I met with academic advisors in agriculture areas. You are the reason I choose agriculture. Why? It’s simple. YOU give me hope. You’ve helped me see the importance of each and every agriculturalist. From farmers to bankers to chemists to advocates- they’re all important. It’s because of you and your dedication and drive that I am choosing agriculture. Yes, I’m selecting this major for other reasons as well. For the uninformed, those disconnected from agriculture, and the curious. But in the end, I’m venturing with this major because of you. I see the smile you get when you finish your last field of corn. I see the difference you’re making in informing others through social media, radio, and magazines. I see your passion ignite when you get to visit with agriculturalists as well as non-agriculturists. I see the fear in your eyes of being able to feed the world by 2050. But I also see hope. I see so much hope. So, with that being said, thank you. Thank you for showing me that a major and a career in agriculture will be a choice I will never regret. Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for investing in others. YOU make a difference in the lives of countless people without even knowing it. So, thank you.

Sincerely,

A high school senior that got her passion for agriculture by watching all of you

kelli-mashino-info-bar

Agriculture’s New Voice – Social Media

Nebraska’s State FFA Convention was this week in Lincoln. The FFA students are inspiring and driven young minds with a growing voice. While they face a world much different than generations in the past, including the increasing gap of consumer knowledge about agriculture, they are armed with a growing new tool – social media.

Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and much more. While all are great ways to keep up with friends and family, they are also powerful tools. Tools that those who do not have firsthand knowledge of farming and ranching are using to broadcast an untrue message. Through social media, we are ALL journalists with the ability to be published instantly.

Above is a graph from Neilsen, showcasing what types of information people trust. This is why you should care about social media – what other people say is what people trust.

Above is a graph from Neilsen, showcasing what types of information people trust. This is why you should care about social media – what other people say is what people trust.

While those who attack will not go away, spreading the truth about agriculture relies on those who live it. If you’re active on social media already – whether it’s sharing photos of your children or keeping track of high school classmates – here are some tips to make the transition to agvocacy easy:

Do’s

  • Seek to help, not harm
    • The goal should always be a positive outcome, view your role as a bridge builder and resource.
  • Be respectful and polite
    • You may not agree with the opinions expressed, but keep the golden rule in mind – treat them as you’d like to be treated.
  • Stay within your realm of expertise
    • Keep on point. If the conversation begins to deviate, don’t be afraid to decline to comment, or provide them with resources that are experts.
  • Move quickly and thoughtfully
    • The internet is written in ink, not pencil – be sure you review your post before sending.

Don’ts

  • Get into an argument
    • Info and opinions can get lost in translation and again, the internet is written in ink.
  • Personally attack commenters
  • Delete posts
    • Unless they violate community guidelines, this makes you lose all credibility.
  • Forget resources

Facebook

  • A post with a photo is 47% more likely to be read
  • Share updates regularly
    • These don’t all have to be original – use links or share posts from others.Picture2

Twitter

  • Shorten links
  • Utilize hashtags responsibly
    • Your whole post shouldn’t be hashtags, but highlight the important points

YouTube

Pinterest

See all of the photos from the 2013 Nebraska FFA Convention here!

 

–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.