Some years ago, a photo came across my social media feed. It was of a college friend escorting his boss onto the set of "Meet The Press." On a Sunday morning. As you do.
I had two thoughts in that moment.
One, my University of Illinois classmates were rapidly rising to the top of their various agricultural posts.
And two, my friend has a really cool job.
That friend is Matt Lloyd. Matt was a fellow ag communications student at the University of Illinois. He was a year or two ahead of me, and once upon a time, he nominated me to be treasurer of our collegiate Ag Communicators of Tomorrow club. At that point in time, I was cleaning my roommate's half of the room in return for her balancing my checkbook. But Matt's faith in me challenged me to do hard things. I got through that year as treasurer and was at least a little bit better for it.
Matt graduated and went to work in Washington, D.C, with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He spent several years there, including a summer when I was in D.C. for an internship. Matt, his wife Amy, my husband John and I spent an eventful Saturday in search of a beach and learned fascinating things, including but not limited to where state road maintenance ends in Virginia and the reality of the Chesapeake Bay jellyfish season in early July. But that's another story for another day.
From there, Matt became a press secretary for a two different congressmen, then landed as deputy press secretary at USDA. Next, a stop as communications director for the House Republican Conference, then he eventually landed in Indiana Congressman Mike Pence's office. He worked his way up to senior communications advisor in the Congressman's successful campaign for governor of Indiana. After that election, Matt and his family chose to stay in D.C., and he landed a job as Chief of Staff for another Indiana congressman, Marlin Stutzman. In case you've ever wondered, the title of Chief of Staff really is as impressive as it sounds. I visited with Matt and Congressman Stutzman during my Ag Day visit a couple years ago, marveling at the work Matt was doing. Most recently, he's left Capitol Hill, returning to the private sector to direct communications for Koch Industries.
So, to recap: Illinois farm boy went to college. Met a few people. Did a few internships. Made a few connections. Landed a job in D.C. Did good work. People noticed. Worked his way swiftly up the ranks, all the while maintaining a steadfast faith, raising a family with his wife, and working to influence the holders of the power with all that's good in agriculture.
That's influence. For the good.
For nearly 20 years, he's talked agriculture with people who needed to hear it, helping shape public opinion along the way. And here's the thing I would tell any young person (and maybe have): People who shine from within don't need the spotlight. Just do good work. Hone your craft. Become really good at what you do. Don't worry about notice or recognition or, heaven forbid, fame. Just do good work and let the work stand for itself. Because it will.
It has for Matt Lloyd. And it's exactly why he's an agriculturalist who influences.
Agriculturalists Who Influence: The Series
- Day 1: Introduction
- Day 2: Jim Evans
- Day 3: Becky Doyle
- Day 4: David and Nancy Erickson
- Day 5: Katie Pinke
- Day 6: Joe Hampton
- Day 7: Noreen Frye
- Day 8: Carolyn Olson
- Day 9: John and Kendra Smiley
- Day 10: Colleen Callahan
- Day 11: Neil and Debbie Fearn
- Day 12: Martin Barbre
- Day 13: Pam Smith
- Day 14: Jim Esworthy
- Day 15: Erin Ehnle
- Day 16: Al Somers
- Day 17: Tom Carr
- Day 18: Russ and Marilyn Rosenboom
- Day 19: Matt Lloyd