Lessons Learned Through Agricultural Conversations

This morning as I was reading a post from Agriculture Proud titled, “How to Lose an Argument on Food and Agriculture Topics,” and I just had to share it. In his post Ryan Goodman, the author of Agriculture Proud, included a quote from Darwin that really stuck with me:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the ones most adaptable to change.” -Darwin

Granted Darwin was probably referencing his theory on “survival of the fittest,” but I think being adaptable to change is an essential quality for all aspects of life, especially in agriculture. In Goodman’s post he talks about the lessons he has learned during failure and why people, who have the best intentions of advocating, lose arguments. He specifically relates the quote from Darwin to failing to engage in other conversations and seek out other perspectives, but I think the quote pertains to each of his points.

Goodman’s ten lessons learned during failure and reasons for losing an argument are:

1. Assuming science will give us the answers; it only gives us some of the answers.

2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices.

3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices.

4. Being reactive rather than proactive.

5. Assuming we can’t do better.

6. Attacking everyone who disagrees with you in a negative, critical manner.

7. Not being willing to listen because we are so busy responding.

8. Assuming that the lunatic fringe is the general public.

9. Assuming that because someone disagrees with you they are stupid, evil or both.

10. Not working to branch outside your comfort zone.

As I was reading these points I couldn’t help but think how true they are. As an agricultural enthusiast, I can look back to every argument I ever had and lost and relate at least one of these points to the reason for losing. We can’t know everything, and we are not going to come from the same background as the person we are in conversation with. But, if we take Darwin’s quote to heart, and work to be more adaptive, we can not only be more successful arguing a point, but also learn more along the way.

In the post, Goodman then goes on to talk about how we can approach controversial topics. He has multiple points, but a few of my favorites are: consider your own biases or confusion surrounding the issue; set a framework and objectives for the discussion that lead to engagement and consideration of opposing viewpoints; and at the end of a conversation summarize and reflect, then always leave the door open for follow-up conversations.

After reading this post, I hope to remember these lessons and become better at engaging in agricultural conversations while being open-minded to other perspectives. To read the full list of tips and expand on lessons learned, check out this post on Agriculture Proud.

Spring Fest at Purdue

There might be a few flurries in the air, but Spring really has sprung. And one popular event at Purdue this time of year is Spring Fest. This annual event, which took place this past weekend, is a time for children, parents, students, and people from the community to visit the university and learn something new through fun, hands-on activities.

Set up around campus were displays, contests, and demonstrations. A few of the events include a cricket spitting contest, equine treadmill demonstrations, and sheep shearing. Not only is it a great experience for the kids (or adults), but Spring Fest is also a chance for Purdue students to share knowledge that they are passionate about. If you missed this great event, or are already looking forward to the next one, the next Spring Fest will be held April 18-19, 2015.

Because I couldn’t be there, I relied on Twitter to see everything that was going on. Here are some of my favorite Tweets from the event:

Check out additional photos from Spring Fest here.

 

 

Wrapping up imAGine Purdue

If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know that this week was Ag Week at Purdue. Unfortunately, I was away at a conference in Florida and didn’t get to enjoy the full experience of Ag Week. However, being away opened my eyes to the success of the week and the increase in the online conversation.

Being a transfer student, last year was my first time to be a part of Purdue Ag Week. As a first timer, I thought it was great that the College of Ag option clubs were taking activities to the north side of campus and trying to share their stories with non-agricultural students. But this year, I was able to “watch” Purdue Ag Week in a whole new light. Multiple states away, I was able to stay in tough with what was going on on campus. I stayed up-to-date with the day’s agenda, and was able to see feedback and pictures for each day’s activities.

Being an “outsider” I was amazed at how close I felt to Ag Week. Through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I was able to see what was going on at campus and how students were reacting to it. I was able to stay up-to-date with the day’s activities and see feedback and pictures with each day’s activities.

As a Boilermaker, I couldn’t be more proud. What do you think of the online conversation about Purdue Ag Week? Did it have an impact? Check out the conversation with #imAGinePurdue.

NAMA Student Social Media Corps

The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) is the largest association for professionals in agribusiness and marketing. Each year they hold a conference bringing agri-marketing professionals and students from all over the country together.  Professional development sessions bring the brightest individuals together to collaborate on new trends and ideas in communications, social media, and industry news. Teams of students from universities all over the country compete against each other with their marketing projects they have been working on all year.

The 2014 NAMA Conference, A Fresh Perspective, started today in Jacksonville, Fla. For the first time this year NAMA and Farm Credit have put together a student social media corps. This group of students will be taking to NAMA’s official social media platforms to build the conference’s online conversation. Students from different universities, including four students from Purdue, bring their social media knowledge together to create a diverse conversation. Jenn Piotrowski, a senior agricultural communications student at Purdue, is excited to be able to use her classroom knowledge to a real-life work environment.

Not, only have the students been enjoying the experience, but conference attendees have been joining in and generating their own noise on their personal social media accounts. You can follow along and stay up-to-date with what’s going on in Florida with #NAMA14 and #NAMASocial on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Advocating isn’t always easy

I have dedicated the last four years of my academic career to agricultural communications, so I should be pretty comfortable advocating about agriculture, right?  Well, to be honest, it can be a little intimidating. I love talking about agriculture, but when a controversial topic comes up, it can be scary to let your voice be heard. While scrolling through Pinterest, I ran across a blog post by fifth generation livestock producer Emily Jackson.  Her blog, A Farm Girl’s Fight, is an outlet for her to tell the truths about agriculture from her livestock perspective. In this particular post titled, “To the Man Who Knows Me Better Than I Know Me,” she talks about her encounter with two PETA representatives at Texas Tech. Her bravery to speak up and even invite the man to visit her family’s farm is noteworthy.

The PETA representatives had a tent set up on campus where students were given free stuff if they made it through. Emily and her teammate walked through the tent and ended up spending an hour conversing with the two men. Here is an excerpt from her blog post:

Dave talked with us for a few minutes about farming practices. He tried to inform us that beating animals was a common practice, we told Dave that we were farmers and this was not true. About this time, a new wave of students came in. Dave and Austin both excused themselves from our delightful conversation to inform innocent students of PETA’s false scares and untruthful statistics.

Folks, I’m a relatively level-headed person. But I have a passion for agriculture and watching this man falsely accuse MY industry took anger management to a whole new level.

I stood up on my tippy toes, mustered my strength, quieted my anger, and yelled:

“I’m a farmer. If you have any questions about farms, ask me, not them.”

Two things then happened: 
        1. Dave and Austin got real mad.
        2. Two girls on opposite ends of the tents turned around and yelled “me too! This is ridiculous.”
        -Emily Jackson, A Farm Girl’s Fight
In the end, the PETA representatives didn’t agree with her, nor did they go to her farm. However, her story left me thinking about one great point: be part of the conversation. Maybe she didn’t change those representatives’s minds, but at least they now have had at least one positive conversation with a farmer, and maybe her voice was able to educate at least one other student in that tent. No matter what the conversation is about, there is always room for someone to criticize you. But isn’t it better to be part of the conversation and be criticized rather than stay quiet and let others be falsely informed?

 

        

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Research

Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine uses a treadmill to conduct research on horse health. Casey  Cromer will conclude her undergrad this May in Animal Sciences and begins her journey in the vet school in Fall 2014.  She first got introduced to horse research in Purdue’s vet school as a freshman, and has spent the past four years doing hands-on research.

Watch the treadmill in action, and get the 101 from Casey here:

 

 

 

 

Who knew classroom readings were interesting

Ever have that ah-ha moment when something from the classroom shows up in real life? Well I just had one of those moments. The other day I was reading material for my horticulture class (HORT 306), and Norman Borlaug popped up. Then, this morning as I was reading the latest blog posts from Crystal Cattle, Borlaug came up again.

Norman Borlaug is considered the father of the Green Revolution (I learned that in HORT 306). But to my surprise, he would have been 100 years old on March 25, which was National Ag Day.   On her blog, Crystal Cattle shared a video remix of popular quotes from Norman Borlaug. And, I must say that I agree with Crystal Cattle about Borlaug’s best quote:

“I think my favorite quote of his is “If I have anything to contribute to this world I’m going to play that card and play it hard.” For Norman this meant that he was going to use science, use GMO variations, use technology to ensure more people around the world had access to food and basic necessities.” -Crystal Cattle

I really enjoyed his quotes, but I’m not the biggest fan of remixes so I thought that part was a little cheesy. However, I think it’s definitely worth the watch.

What do you think, like or dislike?