Thursday, August 30, 2012

Attending the AgChat Conference: An #Agnerd's Paradise

Last week I had the honor of attending the AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Kansas City, MO. I started participating in the #agchat community, a weekly Twitter chat for those involved in or interested in agriculture, over 1 1/2 years ago and this conference gave me the opportunity to finally meet many of the people who I have talked to frequently through this community. I had wanted to attend the conference last year so you can imagine how excited I was to go this year.

The blue dots represent locations that conference participants are from
The first event was a tweep-up for both AgChat conference and NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) Bootcamp, which were both being held in Kansas City at similar times. According to Kelly Rivard, who organized it, we had over 100 people total attend. Several people at the tweet-up asked me if I knew anyone else there and my response was "Someone from my high school is coming and I've met a few others once or twice but that's it." The few I had met before were from the Midwest and this conference gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over, as well as others close to home. That first night I met Brandi Buzzard, who did a blog giveaway for Shyanne boots that I won. Brooke Clay ended up wearing those same Shyanne boots that I won the next week, as did I. 

My brand new Shyanne Daisy Mae boots. They need to be broken in yet, but I love them!
Brooke Clay and I both wearing our Shyanne Daisy Mae boots to see a Craig
Morgan concert  in the Power  & Light District of Kansas City.
I got so much from the conference that it's hard to put into one post. I keep thinking back on it and how much I got from it. There was meeting all these awesome people who are so incredibly passionate about agriculture, feeling excited about the future of agriculture, learning new social media tools, enjoying nights out on the town with new friends and gaining new perspectives by learning from each other.

The swap meet, while not an official event, was a great way to learn about other areas of agriculture as people traded items that are representative of agriculture in their home state. I brought New Glarus Spotted Cow and Capital Brewery Supper Club beer from Wisconsin, as I've now lived in cheeseland for over a year. I got some unique items from various states and learned some interesting things, such as how growing popcorn differs from growing your typical field corn. Before the swap meet, our dinner table had a great discussion about the differences between organic and conventional dairy. I sat next to a calf raiser on a conventional dairy who asked the Zwebers and I questions about our organic dairies. There's so much to learn from others in agriculture as it's such an incredibly diverse industry.

The Peterson Brothers performed their "I'm Farming and I Grow It" first  thing in the morning
Of all of the things that I learned at the AgChat conference, what has stuck out most to me is the people and the power of connections. The people at the conference were all simply great people. I got to catch up with someone who went to the same high school, celebrate the birthday of someone who's blog I've read for a while, watch new friends ride a mechanical bull and overall have meaningful but exciting conversations about agriculture. I enjoyed meeting with everyone and it really drilled home the importance of making connections with those not directly involved with agriculture and this is further emphasized every time I talk about my background with someone I meet in Milwaukee.

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