“Why are you involved in advocacy for agriculture?” This was the question presented to attendees of the 2022 Promotion & Education (P&E) Target Training right off the bat by the conference’s keynote speaker Ryan Goodman, AKA @beefrunner. Target Training is consumer engagement training for Farm Bureau members who are passionate about sharing agriculture with the general public. This year’s conference, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had a theme of Promoting Positive Perceptions.
Being asked our “Why” was a common theme we were asked to think about that week. For each person in attendance that “why” sounded a bit different. For some, their “why” was simple – they ran a multi-generation operation and wanted the farm or ranch to be around for generations to come. For others, they were just getting started in their agricultural journey and wanted to soak in every resource that Farm Bureau had to offer. Even though the answers to the “why” question varied, we were all able to find common ground rooted in our passions for agriculture and Farm Bureau.
Throughout the conference we were challenged to think of advocacy in new ways. For years, the main message of agricultural advocacy has been to educate, educate, and educate. Get our stories out there and our voices heard. During our time at the conference, we were empowered to think of advocacy not solely in the terms education (because no one likes to be told they are uneducated) but by making meaningful connections with those around us.
We need to remember that we are a whole person – not just those involved with agriculture – and to utilize our other hobbies and interests to foster those meaningful connections and tie those connections back to agriculture. For example, Ryan Goodman (@beefrunner), uses his love for ultra-marathon racing to connect with a different crowd. As he runs his marathons, he is able to make instant connections with others that have a similar hobby and from there he can engage in positive conversations about agriculture with those individuals. As he engages with others during his race, he builds positive relationships based on common interests and then have more productive conversations surrounding agricultural issues that are important to him and his new friends.
Leaving Target Training left all of us who attended with new tools for advocacy, tools to make positive connections with others, and a deeper understanding of our “why”.