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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Be Patient, Positive & Personal

I work in an office with a bunch of suits (you know what I mean), and I’ve come to embrace their questions and curiosity.  Sometimes I chuckle at their questions and sometimes I tilt my head with a questionable grin.  While I am sure my facial expressions may say differently, I have learned over the years to be patient and positive with my friends and colleagues as they try to learn and understand the world of agriculture.  Navigating through a conversation with someone about such a large topic that few of us live every day and all of us need every day is quite challenging.  

My sister and I have been talking for weeks about how we are going to honor our father for Ag Appreciation Month in March and brainstormed some great ideas that we have already put into action.  But yet I have struggled recently on how to tell my story without getting so overwhelmed with the amount of information I need to tell about life on the farm and how important agriculture is to us all.  Rattling off farm facts – how many people we feed and the stats on what and how we produce – don’t suffice for me anymore.  Those numbers disappear through the thin air and short attention spans of individuals living in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century and are disconnected from their food source.  

Instead of numbers, I use personal touches.  I tell the blue suit about the calves that were born that morning and how it affected our morning routine – and after a chaotic morning, one of them died.  I explain to the black suit about how the weather and various trade policies affect the corn, soybean and wheat markets every day and I hear about it every night.  I tell the gray suit about my experience in 4-H and how it helped me develop life lessons that I apply to my life today – hard work, be caring, the buying and selling and losing something you have worked hard for.  And then I grieve to my secretary that the gravel driveway full of rocks and mud from my farmer’s truck are ruining my high heels which have caused a horrendous hole and run in my tights before a big meeting.  

People remember the importance and understand the need for agriculture when they know that it affects someone on a personal level.  We don’t look each other enough in the eyes anymore because we are too busy comparing our lives to someone else’s online.  So when you are patient with someone when they ask you a question, positive in your tone and personal in your response while looking in their eyes – they remember and they appreciate.  

As I finish writing this I have gotten a text from a friend in Iowa asking how many calves we’ve had and then a colleague came in to chat about the recent pig farming story he heard on NPR.  Every moment of my life involves agriculture and so does yours – appreciate it. Your patience and positive attitude about your personal agriculture story will last longer than any agriculture appreciation month.  

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