A few weeks ago, I attended the AgChat Collegiate Conference at Dow AgroSciences headquarters.
First, I was readily aware of my age. I tend to not think about my age, not because it bothers me but because I can't change it, and as the old saying goes "It's better than the alternative". But it hit me among all the young'uns at this conference that: (a) I could be any of their mothers; and (b) I was not their peer, I was merely the old lady in the group who may or may not have a YouTube account because, well, it's complicated and I don't understand how to get started.
While attending under the title of "Indiana Prairie Farmer journalist," I actually sat through the conference with the mindset of an attendee.
What I learned:
1. Being on a panel is hard, being a farmer in the audience of a panel of organic whole food vegans is just as hard. Listening also is hard but I think both sides are going to have to learn this quality or basically we are preaching to the choir and beating our heads against a wall.
2. Don't neglect home! And by home I mean our town and our state. In this internet age connecting the whole world I think we sometimes forget what is right in front of us. Are we talking directly to our non-ag neighbors and are we utilizing our local commodity groups effectively to help us?
3. It takes all of us – all kinds of agriculture, all kinds of advocating. No one style is going to feed this world moving forward. It's about having choices and allowing others to exercise their choices with respect for everyone, even if they don't agree with us and we don't agree with them.
4. Everything is not always a big deal to consumers. Sometimes what is a big deal internally to agriculture isn't a big deal to consumers, until we make it a big deal. Sometimes we create our own trouble by drawing attention to a non-issue to consumers.
5. Listen more than you talk. Try to see both sides of the story. Be YOU, no one knows agriculture's story better than you.