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Reach Beyond The Choir, #ACFC11 Opening Remarks

Sunset In Nashville, courtesy of Mark Lathrop

Welcome to Nashville!

You were all selected to attend this 2nd Agchat Foundation Conference because you have passion for agriculture, have embraced social media and have demonstrated that you have the desire to become more effective agvocates.

Over the next two days, you will have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of social media platforms, integrate smart and mobile technology and most importantly, meet fellow agvocates who have made the decision to work with you as a team.

Some of you will focus on one or two platforms, while others will feel comfortable and have the time and energy to incorporate multiple platforms. You each will play an important and vital role in assisting the effort of agriculture to reconnect with consumers.

Our emphasis this year is to help you reach beyond the choir. We want you to learn how to build strong bridges, grow supportive communities and gain influence among those outside of agriculture.

This endeavor will take time, focus, patience, bravery, professionalism, civility and respect.

Ultimately, your success will depend on your ability to communicate effectively and nurture relationships built upon mutual respect and trust.

Agriculture is diverse, society is diverse, and you all have unique interests and personalities, as do the individuals you will be reaching out to.

Diversity must be respected.

Many of you are aware that my wife and I raise and train horses and that we incorporate natural horsemanship philosophy and strategy when working with our horses.

There are many correlations between how we interact with horses and how we should interact with people.

Just like horses, people have different personalities and interact and respond differently to stimuli and conversation.

It is your challenge to recognize the nuances in personalities in order to find commonalities, connect, nurture relationships, build bridges and grow communities based on mutual respect and trust.

We must have keen sensitivity and awareness to personality, language, meaning, intent and questions.

In order to be successful at recognizing commonalities and true meaning behind language, we must open our eyes, minds and hearts and observe without prejudice and without blinders.

[Unintentional Blindness Demonstration]

It matters not what our occupation is, we must all be aware that when we are close to an issue, we can allow emotion and personal opinion to keep us from seeing the big picture, true meaning or need behind an action, question or statement.

Our own unintentional blindness must be recognized.

With horses, we can become too complacent, over-confident in our ability, not recognize differences in horseinalities and that can lead to dangerous situations.

With people, our unintentional blindness can cause us to jump to conclusions, react out of emotion, mis-interpret questions or comments and either prevent us from connecting or damage existing relationships.

We must be able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes so-to-speak, or in the position of the horse, to fully understand their perspective, if we truly desire to connect and have a conversation.

When we are able to do this, connections can be made and relationships formed…we are then able to reach beyond the choir.

[Ah-Ha Moments]

Your challenge over the next two days is to open your eyes, ears, minds and hearts…..

Learn from your fellow agvocate’s experiences…..

Implement what you learn from the conference…..

Reach out beyond the choir….

Experience your own Ah-Ha moment…..

Thank you all and remember, social media is supposed to be social!

  1. August 29, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Wish I was in Nashville. Enjoyed watching your video. I much prefer the natural horsemanship methods to what was in effect back when I was raising and showing Quarter horses.

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