Ever since I got involved in social media, I’ve felt at times like a fish out of water and the issue of how much of an introvert I am is very debatable. But it’s time to come clean with one of the dark little secrets in my life…
For any of my local friends and family, I’m embarrassed by the amount of attention ag social media, and in particular the AgChat Foundation and my involvement, has gotten in the agriculture press in the last year or so. This blog was prompted by the latest one. The September/October of The Furrow is just hitting mailboxes and it features a lead story on social media as “The New Coffee Shop” and I’m pictured on the front cover along with fellow Kansas agvocates Debbie Lyons Blythe and Tom Tibbits.
I very much appreciate the publicity that agvocacy is recieving, and hope it inspires many, many more farmers to take the time and effort to share their stories, to explain to a public far removed from the farm how their food is raised.
At a personal level it’s a little more complicated. I don’t know that I have EVER been to the local coffee shop, much of the time that I do gather with a group of people I’m very content to just sit and listen. I’m not active publicly in my local community. The level of my introvertedness is surprising in it’s intensity at times. I’ve often wondered what my neighboring farmers think when they’ve leafed through some of the farm magazines, see my pictured as an example of “speaking out for agriculture” and hardly know who I am.
And yet, I’m very passionate, I am very involved in agriculture social media, I’m proud to be one of the founding farmers of the AgChat Foundation. If you look at my Facebook wall, my Twitter feed, my blog, Google Plus account, etc. there’s not a lot of activity, especially about my farm.
The answer to this puzzle lies in a simple reality. My interests, my passions, my focus, are all internal. I’ve worked with some incredible people to build the AgChat Foundation, and focusing on the people involved, working together as a team, crunching the numbers, determining direction, that’s my interest. It’s a very internal focus compared to the external focus that many agvocates have. I first saw this on display incredibly well at last year’s Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference. I met a lot of farmers, all of which LOVED to talk about their farms, of course, they were agvocates, that’s what they were supposed to do! Funny thing is, I seldom talk about my farm, unless specifically asked.
And yet, one of my most memorable recent experiences is sitting down with an ag contact I’ve known for some time. She would like to write a book, telling the farm story, from several individual farmers perspectives. I loved the couple of hours we spent brainstorming, I hope I gave her at least a bit of encouragement, and if she continues to pursue this book idea I’d love to spend even more time helping to make it a success. That small little project is a perfect example of the agvocacy I like to work on.
Those one on ones, the trusted close connections, are where I have my impact on a daily basis with the AgChat Foundation. You may not see me much in the public social media world, but the passion for the industry I love and my belief in the people that are part of it, runs deep. And I think I am still making a real contribution to the agvocacy effort.
My message to you is this… You have to find your own niche, you won’t do exactly what someone else does, you may focus on a specific service or tool, you may be very techno-literate or techno-challenged. You may be articulate or struggle to express your true feelings, but in the end, I’m confident God gave each and every one of us a special skill set to use. We just have to be comfortable going down a little different path than the over-rated “normal” at times!