Farmers from even the most remote small towns are engaging life-long city dwellers in stories of their farm through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. These conversations are at the core of building understanding of agriculture by the 98 percent of Americans not living on the farm. Improving individual effectiveness is the goal of the AgChat Foundation's first training session to help farmers be more effective in telling their personal story. The conference will be held August 30-31 in Chicago.
"Social media provides an opportunity to connect directly to consumers as well as others in agriculture," says Jeff Fowle, AgChat Foundation president. "I'm like most farmers and ranchers. We build extensive knowledge in the care of our crops and livestock, from decades of experience on the farm, training sessions, workshops and our education. Many farmers and ranchers have not had the opportunity to study communications, let alone social media. This training session will bring together experts in some of those arenas to help food providers better advocate by telling their story."
The conference is being planned by volunteers who serve on the AgChat Foundation's board of directors, advisory board and committee members. The team includes farmers, professional communicators and trainers.
"Thousands of farmers and ranchers have participated in basic training for social media, and have started using these channels to get their stories out. And quite a few have taken it to the next level actively engaging consumers in blogs, etc. We want to provide them a chance to advance their advocacy" says Michele Payn-Knoper, who chairs the committee planning the event. "This session is designed to take a small group through more advanced agvocacy training and provide more individualized growth."
The planned agenda includes:
Bridging Basic Communications with Social Media
Community Building for Twitter and Facebook
Extending your community beyond ag
Creating effective content for YouTube and blogs
"The hands-on sessions will provide attendees an opportunity to begin immediately employing new skills. And given the enthusiasm some farmers have, I'd anticipate the learning continue through break times and as we return to our farms," says Mike Haley, the foundation's vice president.
Mid-level social media users are targeted to participate. To apply, go to the foundation's website http://agchat.org. The Foundation is working with sponsors to keeps costs manageable, organizations interested in sponsoring sessions or farmer-attendees can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: AgChat Foundation