College students from across the nation gathered in Indianapolis at Dow Headquarters to discuss and learn more about advocating for agriculture commonly called "agvocating." Learning from top agriculture representatives, including some that are their peers, they gathered to learn, listen and, of course tweet, Facebook and Instagram the event!
Seventy-five attendees representing 15 schools from 11 states participated, stretching from New Mexico, North Dakota and from as far east as Vermont. Students in attendance majored in ag business, ag communications, agriculture leadership, ag economics, ag education, animal science, agronomy, political sociology and ag marketing.
"Our inaugural collegiate event absolutely surpassed our expectations," said Jenny Schweigert, AgChat Foundation executive director. "We have been extremely impressed by the drive and passion the students exhibited during the event and continue to demonstrate online and in their communities."
The event held at Dow Headquarters was put on by the AgChat Foundation. This is a group founded to engage the agriculture community and help provide a collective voice through social media. Their mission statement is "Empowering farmers and rancher to connect communities through social media platforms."
AgChat Foundation held their first open conference last year in San Antonio, Texas, which was a huge success. A conference geared toward college students seemed the next logical step as they are the future of agriculture.
"I can confidently say that the future of the agriculture industry is bright," Schweigert said.
The speaker list was packed full of influential agvocators, including: Mark Gale of Charleston/Orwig; Michele Payn-Knoper, author of "No More Food Fights"; Carrie Mess, known for her blog "Dairy Carrie"; and Leah Beyer, Elanco social media expert.
"As this was the first year for the AgChat Foundation's Collegiate Congress, I think it is something very worth of becoming a tradition," said Samuel Ebenkamp, Purdue student and attendee. "It is an entirely different experience to discuss advocating for agriculture when you're younger and your audience is younger."