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From encouraging youth to celebrating agriculture, state ag director does it allFrom encouraging youth to celebrating agriculture, state ag director does it all

Ag Matters: Mindy Ward shares how Chris Chinn was fully engaged during the Missouri State Fair.

Mindy Ward

August 25, 2023

6 Slides

Clearly, I am not your Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. But I am taking over Ag Matters — for this month.

Ag Matters is a great column, full of important information written by Chris. But this month, well, she’s been a little more than busy, and sitting still to write a column was simply out of the question. Frankly, I’m OK with that, and dare I say glad.

For once, instead of Chris always focusing on the great work her department does for Missourians, which they do, it allows me to shine a little light on her work and passion.

This summer, you could spot Chris serving farmers and ranchers at events across the state — from meetings to field days. This is part of her job, and she performs it well, dare I say better than any other ag director in the nation.

But Chris’ passion, and where she truly shows our agriculture community and those outside of it her commitment to the future of our industry, was on display at the greatest end-of-summer celebration: the Missouri State Fair.

Chris spent 11 days attending the event. Much of that time, she encouraged the youth of our state to:

Help feed the hungry. Chris worked side by side with 700 FFA members to pack and fill 160,000 meals during the Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids. She is not afraid to do the work. Along the way, she modeled the true essence of servant-leadership.

Raise livestock and crops. She attended cattle, swine, sheep and poultry barns, visiting exhibitors and watching livestock shows. Then she headed to the 4-H and FFA building to take in member projects. No matter where she was, Chris greeted people and their families, taking time to visit about their exhibits and favorite fair memories. It’s not because she has to but because she wants to. Chris displayed how leaders listen.

Pursue a career in agriculture. Chris hosted this year’s Missouri Agribusiness Academy at the state fair, where she shared her passion for the industry. She encouraged them to find their passion in agriculture, whether working on the farm or in ag business. Through it, she showed the possibility of realizing a dream.

Develop a network. Chris has such a great working relationship with Gov. Mike Parson that often where she is, he is there too. Chris gives the next generation in ag direct access to high-level officials in our state. She and the governor visited with exhibitors. She taught them to never be afraid to reach out and speak to leaders.

However, those nearly two weeks were not only about promoting youth — although talk to her for a second and you find that is the greatest part of her role — but for Chris, it was also an opportunity to educate others about Missouri agriculture.

She spent time promoting the state’s ag industry to politicians, industry representatives and consumers. Chris event carved out time to moderate a panel of national politicians on the farm bill.

So, your director of agriculture did not forget to write you a column. She was simply out working, encouraging our youth, sharing ag’s message and enjoying a little time with her ag fair family.

No worries, she will be back next month, providing information about the state of ag in Missouri and likely shining the light on others. She does that well too.

Click through the photo gallery to see your Missouri State Fair director of agriculture in action.

Read more about:

Missouri State Fair

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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