Going #AgNerd on the Farm

The term nerd 25 years ago and still today generally has a negative meaning to it, but there are a bunch of agricultualists and our supporters that have embraced the term and somewhat made it the calling card of the AgChat Foundation.  I am not sure who first coined the term, but it has caught on and we embrace #AgNerd.

The AgChat Foundation is an organization dedicated to helping enable people involved in agriculture to better tell their stories through the use of social media.  I serve in a volunteer capacity with the organization in setting up our conferences to help with this educational effort.  I attended the first conference in August of 2011 in Chicago, IL.  It was quite an experience finally meeting in person all of the individuals with whom I had advocated for agriculture with over the previous couple years.   We put together our second Agvocacy conference this last August in Nashville, TN and it was a resounding success.

As I look forward this week to attending The Ag Issues 2012 event sponsored by Bayer Crop Science I reflect on where this social media journey of agvocating has taken me.  I have had an opportunity to work with an amazing group of people that are interested in having a conversation with consumers and finding our common ground.  These are selfless individuals interested in helping others to tell their stories and help bridge the gap that seems to exist between the producers of our food and the consumers.  Last night many farmers and others in this area had a chance to listen to Anne Burkholder speak about the importance of telling this story and doing it the right way.  If you have not heard of Anne, make sure to visit her blog at www.feedyardfoodie.com. I believe it opened some eyes to the divide that is out there.  For too many years agriculture has sat back and let others tell our story for us.  Let me tell you, it is not a pretty story.  Do you consider your farm a “factory”?  I certainly do not, but that is the way we are portrayed the majority of the time!  Why, because the public does not know us.   What they do know of us is usually second hand.

I get the chance because of this social media adventure to serve on a sustainability panel at Ag Issues 2012.  The Twitter hashtag for the event in #agissues12.  Please follow it on Twitter as myself and some friends I have met through #agchat will be tweeting the conference also.  To follow the conference follow me at @Huskerfarm Michele Payn-Knoper at @mpaynknoper, and Jeff Vanderwerff at @agsalesman.  We will be #agnerding  with our smartphones, iPads, etc. for a couple days in Nashville, but there are a ton of others out there doing it every day, telling their story via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogs, Pinterest, etc.

Who are you going to tell your farm story to today?  Is there someone you can connect with in a positive way to start a conversation?  Are you going to let someone else do it for YOU?  Are we going to be part of the solution, or help create a bigger divide?  Take 10 minutes a week to tell your story in some way and see what it can accomplish.  Large companies employ PR and reputation management firms to handle interaction and communication with the public.   As individuals in agriculture, that is just another one of the many hats we need to wear each day on our own farms!  I tell my story because I want to ensure that our children are afforded the same opportunities  in agriculture that I have been.  Find your reason!

Adams Central School Bond 2.0 (no updates from version 1.0)

Most school districts would salivate at having a modern, updated school such as ours, but our district wants to throw it away for a new model! K-6 with great class size, modern computer lab, library, gym, and cafeteria.

This is what the Adams Central School Board voted to try to take away from us last night along with other great schools! I would hope that you all would fight to bring some common sense to this process. The Juniata Elementary School is only three years older than the high school and was completely brought up to code in 2003.

The board has stated they need three pods to efficiently operate the school system. Why we cannot add a north pod to Juniata, expand the kitchen, take advantage of the central gym, computer lab, and library, add a multipurpose space to district 60 along with a kitchen and move forward is beyond me! This would come in at a fraction of the cost and preserve buildings that are already there, along with not taking a school away from a community.

We all know there needs to be something done with districts 15 and district 33, but why take away my choice to send my children to Juniata and others right to send their children to a smaller school to satisfy 1/3 or less of the population in the district. I am not against doing something, but I am against the one school concept. A two school proposal would pass easlily in the AC district!

I also found it ironic that the board was laughing about a pickup almost being hit during the traffic study they are currently conducting on Hwy 6. I find nothing funny about putting more children on the intersection at Hwy 6 or 12th street. Would it have been as funny if it was a minivan full of kids? I realize the laughter was because they can get nothing done with the department of roads, but reality is they are not going to inconvenience people 22.5 hours a day for 1.5 hours of congestion.  Failing to recognize this reality is much the same as recognizing that we voted down this exact same proposal once already!

I strongly urge a vote against the bond for many reasons, but just the fact that our board is ignoring a vote of the people and basing their decision on 13% of the voting public(see voice of the people on page 4) is enough for me to not have to consider any other reasons. That’s right, they had a 22% response rate to their survey and 60% of those favor a one site proposal.  Hardly enough response to say the general public surely supports one site statistically, especially with the obvious slant of the survey and threats received via local media by our school board.  We voted this down once and should not have to do it again. A vote of the people usually effects change. The only change with this proposal is the Calendar. Their plan B whatever it is cannot be worse than this blunt ignorance of the vote of the people 15 months ago.

I realize there are people that disagree with this, and I respect your position also. You all have a vote just like me, so please use it!