You probably don't farm. But you do eat. How do we bridge the communication gap between the 2% of the population who are farmers, and the remaining 98% of people? Technology. The AgChat Foundation is working to end the divide between agricultural producers and the public by training farmers and advocates, developing strategic "agvocacy" campaigns, analyzing data, and funding scholarships. It's all part of helping everyone understand the production of food, fiber, and fuel in its many faces and how technology is changing everything. The panel will consist of various leaders from the AgChat community, most of which are family farmers. Discussion will focus on the AgChat community: how it was built; its unusual diversity, including people, groups and ideologies sometimes otherwise not in agreement; how it grew beyond its basis in Twitter to other social media platforms; some typical discussion topics; and how the AgChat Foundation functions to equip farmers and ranchers with the tools to be credible online voices. Complete program details can be found at www.agchat.org.
Chris Chinn resides on her family’s hog farm near Clarence, Missouri with her husband Kevin, and their two children, Rachelle and Conner. Chris manages the production and financial records for the family’s 1,500 sow farrow-to-finish hog operation, as well as the family feed mill. She and her husband also have a small cow-calf herd, as well as 140 acres of alfalfa hay.
Chris is active in Farm Bureau and served four years on the Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Missouri Farm Bureau. In 2007, she served as Chairman for the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, and served on the Board of Directors for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Chris is currently the Shelby County Farm Bureau YF&R Chair, and serves on the Shelby County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, where she also holds the office of Secretary. Chris is a member of the Missouri Pork Association, as well as the Shelby County Pork Producers. Chris also served on EPA’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Community Advisory Committee. She has also served as a board member for the Shelby County University of Missouri Extension Council, and the Long Branch Area YMCA Board of Directors. Chris is a member of ALOT (Ag Leaders of Tomorrow) Class 13, American Farm Bureau PAL (Partners in Agricultural Leadership) Class 5, and is a member of the Shelbina Christian Church where she volunteers with the youth program.
Emily is a farm mom, raising two young boys while providing a customer face for Zweber Farms. She balances a number of responsibilities during the day: caring for youngstock, doing customer outreach locally and engaging with others through the various social media channels the farm is engaged in. The family shares both personal information about food production and farming info through channels on a daily basis.
The Zweber family farm is in the Elko NewMarket hills outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The family has farmed the land since 1906 raising various crops and livestock. Today Emily, her husband, Tim, and Tim's dad, Jon, and mom, Lisa, are Organic Valley farmer owners and market their milk under that label. In addition to the dairy, the Zwebers sell sustainably raised chicken, pork and beef directly to customers. Emily has responsibility for customer outreach.
Jeff Fowle is a third generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay and grain as a rotation.
Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years studying mechanical engineering and military science, then attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science and judged on their Livestock Judging Team. After college, he worked in Washington State for a year as the herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to operate the KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons.
He has been actively engaged in water and endangered species issues since 1992. His passion for protecting the family farmer and rancher from unnecessary and burdensome federal and state regulation has led to his involvement in several state initiated regulatory processes, including the Klamath, Shasta and Scott Total Maximum Daily Load plans, and the Shasta and Scott Incidental Take Permits. These endeavors have demonstrated the need for not only law makers, but also the general public, to reconnect with the agricultural community and rediscover where their food, fiber and shelter come from and how it is produced.
Jeff is currently the President of the AgChat Foundation, whose mission it is to empower farmers, ranchers and foresters to share their stories effectively through social media platforms. The Foundation focuses on helping resource stewards build bridges and grow communities that will help agriculture regain the trust and understanding of the public.
Marla is an award-winning writer/producer/director who has worked in all genres of television production, daily talk shows, reality entertainment, traditional news, as well as creative advertising, marketing and promotion for all four major television networks, cable and local television stations for over 20 years.
In 2009, after a ten year stint at the local Los Angeles Fox Affiliate, she was downsized and spent a year immersing herself in the world of social media and deciding what to do with the next phase of her career and life. At the same time, she started her first blog, "Life After Kids" to deal with her own feelings of loss when both sons left her "nest" but found she had many readers and fans in the same boat.
In June of 2010, she launched a weekly live web series on Mingle Media TV, "Life After Kids," based on her blog. Her goal - to inform, entertain, and inspire mid-lifers and empty-nesters to follow their bliss as she is doing as a citizen journalist, blogger and new business owner.
In October 2010, armed with her new understanding and appreciation of the Web 2.0 culture and tools, she launched her own Production/Marketing & Branding Company, DVIN/IDEAS. Her goal is to use traditional and social media marketing best practices to assist her clients reach their branding and business goals.
Marla states that her "...personal crusade is to enlist those resistant to social media marketing tools and have them embrace them with true engagement."
This past October, she attended BlogWorld 2010 as a reporter/correspondent for Mingle Media TV and interviewed such luminaries as Producer Mark Burnett, former Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett and Tech Guru/TwitTV Founder Leo LaPorte. In addition, to her weekly show, you can also find her on the red carpet to interviewing celebrities and newsmakers at Los Angeles area charity and celebrity events.
Marla joined the Executive Board of Girls in Tech LA this past September and has done pro-bono media consulting for the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and several animal rescue organizations. With all her career and personal successes, she says her greatest productions are her two sons; Zachary a budding filmmaker and Joshua, a musician and college student.
Zach is a fifth-generation farmer from Nebraska who raises corn, popcorn, and soybeans with his dad and brother, and he and his wife Anna have two kids. He is a techie farmer who uses social media to share life on the farm with the world, as well as to pass time during long days in the tractor. His farm also utilizes the latest in agricultural technology, from tractors that steer themselves to remote soil moisture monitoring.
Zach also spent some time living in Kansas City after college, working in an ad agency and gained a city life perspective that helps shape his approach both to farming and sharing the story of modern agriculture.
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