A participant’s perspective

If you had been walking by my office during one of my lunch breaks last month as I read through the schedule of the 2016 Cultivate & Connect Conference, you probably would’ve thought a preteen was winning free tickets to no less than three of her favorite boy bands.  In my defense, I imagine the excitement it generated was likely comparable.

As I read down the lineup of speakers, I couldn’t believe how many names that I not only recognized, but already actively admired and followed on various social media channels for their own unique abilities in the speaking/agvocacy arena. However, one of the coolest things to me about this group of speakers is that I’ve come across each of them over the years from different corners of the world wide web and personal endeavors.

P.S. Good luck picking just one person for each break-out session.

The speakers

As an avid horse-lover myself, I began following Amberley Snyder on Facebook years ago after being inspired by one of her Wheelchair Wednesday videos.  During a meat science course I took in college, I read a great blog post from Dr. Janeal Yancey (aka Mom at the Meat Counter) in which she thoroughly debunked common meat-myths.

The first time I heard my colleague, Vance Crowe, speak was during my New Hire Orientation at Monsanto’s headquarters one year ago. Since then, he’s become like a mentor to me and helped me grow both professionally and personally. Janice Person, who also happens to be a colleague, came across my radar for her A to Z of Agriculture blog series. Katie Pratt has worked with my soybean site on several occasions to assist us with our Ag in the Classroom initiatives (small world!)

I began following Cristen Clark on Snapchat after hearing about her from a participant at AgChat’s 2016 Collegiate Congress, which also lead me to her friend and fellow pork-industry Snapchatter, Erin Brenneman. Greg Peterson of the Peterson Farm Brothers came across my social media feeds when their first parody video went viral. I could keep going, but I’ll spare you.

Maybe none of this means anything to you specifically, but my point (other than not being able to contain my inner fan-girl) is to convey the diversity that these speakers will bring to the Conference. With that diversity will come valuable perspectives and expertise, as well as the ultimate networking opportunity! These are high quality individuals who are doing social media and agvocacy right. If you’re thirsty to learn how you can make a difference in telling agriculture’s story, they will have plenty to teach you.

Getting there

Don’t think you can pay your way?  Think again!  If you’re a student, bring this opportunity up to professors, advisors, and student organizations that may be able to help sponsor you.  If you’re a farmer or work for a company, consider your local farm bureau or upper management.  Offer to put together a presentation of the key things you learned at the conference and bring it back to share with your peers.  In addition, make sure to register before October 3rd to receive the best price on admission!

The Conference might still be a few months away, but check out my blog to see what I’m (already) doing to prepare! I can’t wait to see you there!

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Hannah Neuenschwander
works for Monsanto in soybean production and volunteers some of her time to the AgChat Foundation moderating #AgChat Twitter chats and helping promote this event.