One of the things I am extremely passionate about is telling my story on my own terms because no one knows it better than I do. It is this passion that drives me to find common ground with others outside of farming and have discussions about farming when the time is right. Speaking up for farmers and farming is as simple as talking to an old friend who moved to the city or asking a person what motivates them to buy certain things in the grocery store.
I have taken the opportunity on many an airplane to reach out to others, however one time stands out. I was on a flight from St. Louis to Salt Lake City and was seated next to two young boys travelling with their families for a ski vacation to Utah. Throughout the flight I kept to myself because the boys were having their own conversation and as an adult I did not want to create a weir situation. As the flight was nearing its end the show friends was being shown as the in flight entertainment. The episode was one where Ross dumps a whole gallon of milk down the front of himself. One of the boys then said something to the effect of “that’s a lot of milk”. I then proceed to say no I have 4000 times as much at home. Then conversation then moved to me explain that my family operates a dairy farm. One of the boys then proceeds to ask me “Are your cows free range?” After I picked my jaw up off the ground I answered that some do and some are housed in open air barns and in nice weather have access to outdoor exercise pens. I also explained the stalls in the barn are groomed and kept clean. The cows also have free access to fresh food and clean water. The concrete the cows walk on is cleaned frequently and there is soft rubber where the cows walk. The young boy then said “Wow it sounds like you take great care of your cows.”
Another time I was engaged in a local community on twitter and through several meet and greets created several longtime friends. One of those friends asked if he could bring his boys out to the dairy and being one to not miss an agvocacy moment I agreed. His boys loved the tour and to this day nearly a year later he continues to remind me his young sons remember what they saw and did on the dairy thus creating a lifetime impression. In addition to his sons the gentleman also came to realize that many who try to paint farmers and ranchers in a negative light are not always being the completely truthful.
Here are some videos from their visit:
It is so easy to build bridges between communities in our lives, they can be virtual, social, religious, or hobby based communities however they have all started with common ground outside agriculture.
If we farmers and ranchers think about it enough becoming an Agvocate and letting others know why and how we do what we farmers and ranchers do to feed, fuel and clothe them becomes second nature. We are given opportunities to Agvocate daily it is up to us as Agriculturalists to take advantage of them and not let the opportunity forever slip away.