Tag Archives: Croplife America 2014 National Policy Conference

Guest Post: Empowering Inquiring Agricultural Minds

Speaking up and advocating for something you love, can be a rewarding experience. It can also be overwhelming and intimidating, but if you push through, the rewards far outnumber the ‘what if’s’. This is a lesson I learned first-hand last week by participating on a panel for CropLife America’s 2014 Policy Conference. Traveling across the country to speak about what I do was a massive shock to my system, in the best way possible.

I was not the only multi-generation ag woman at this conference. My new friend Julia Dedes, was in the audience. In fact, I noticed her because she spoke up. She identified herself as a farm kid, then proceeded to blow the room away with a stellar question. I was so impressed, I turned around and took a picture of her, so I could lurk her later.

My lurker picture of Julia.  As a fellow farm kid, I wanted to hug her!

My lurker picture of Julia. As a fellow farm kid, I wanted to hug her!

I did speak with Julia after the conference and we also connected on twitter. She graciously offered to write a guest post about her experience with the conference. I was thrilled to read our feelings about our experience last week, mirrored each other.

I have been very vocal with my efforts and urgings for agriculture to open our barn doors. But we must do more than offer transparency. We must engage. I plan on covering this topic more, in future posts, but Julia is right, we must use our voices.


Empowering Inquiring Agricultural Minds

By Julia Debes, @StoskopfDebes working as Assistant Director of Communications at @uswheatassoc

Today, I spoke up. Today, my voice was heard.

Today, I attended the 2014 National Policy Conference of CropLife America. Did I lose you? Keep reading, it was not just another board meeting.

Living in the Washington, DC, area, I take any chance I get to attend broader agricultural events. I seek  out information from other commodities, other organizations and particularly other viewpoints CropLife brought together speakers from all sectors of agriculture and conservation, from a sixth generation California cattle rancher to Honest Tea to the Nature Conservancy. Ali Velshi, formerly of CNN now with Al Jezeera America, was master of ceremonies, artfully weaving crowd comments into poignant debate.

One speaker answered an Ali Velshi remark saying, in his work, he gave a voice to the emotive opposition to the stiff scientific claims on a very contentious topic (to be named on another day).

Neurons flared! I had a question. Why did this emotional, sometimes misinformed, perspective get equal voice with a life-saving technology, scientifically safe and valuable? Furthermore, if both of these viewpoints had equal time and space, did readers or listeners really even consider the other side of the argument? Or did they simply laserpoint in on the viewpoint they already shared?

Burning questions! But, in a room full of experts, I was shy to stand at the microphone. So, I tweeted it.

“Does equal coverage of inequal science educate or reinforce consumers’ confirmation bias?”

And, bam! there it was! Asked by Ali Velshi on a national stage. Success! Well, except for the fact that I  spent so much effort into smartly wording my question that no one could understand it. Communications fail.

The question was answered, in its own way, but after a break and another panel, I decided to give it another go. So, I approached Ali Velshi (gulp!) and explained myself. Little did I know what would be the outcome.

After lunch, a panel of journalists took the stage. And, true to his promise, Ali Velshi retooled my  question and posed it again. The topic took off! The entire room was engaged (some even enraged)! Just because I had taken the time to go and explain my less than 140 characters in person.

The panel continued their discussion and the conversation grew more heated. And I grew bolder. So, after conflicting comments, I DID step up to the microphone. In front of a room full of those with far more experience and far more expertise than myself, I posed a second question.

The short version: “If science is not credible and story-telling is a disservice, how should we in ag communicate with consumers?”

A visible reaction from the audience. And an even greater emotive response from the panel. So much so that I followed up with one of the speakers to further continue the train of thought after she left the stage.

Ali Velshi even thanked me for my additional question at the end of the day. Oh my! (blush)

My takeaway today, just as much as the specific issues we discussed, use your voice. And you will be heard.

I could have sat there, thinking about my observation. I could have typed it in my notes and talked about it with my boss come the next work day. I could have said nothing, done nothing – and absolutely nothing would have been the result.

So, the next time you are sitting in the audience at an event – large or small – move from passive to participation! If you have a question or a comment that you want the answer to, do not be afraid. Instead, just use your voice. You never know who might listen if you do.

PS: Ali Velshi is welcome to a good conversation at my table anytime.

PPS: If anyone has any ag-related questions they want to ask, please do! Ask away – I may not know the answer, but I will hep you track down who does!

Julia Debes is the Assistant Director of Communications at U.S. Wheat Associates where she tracks news on the wheat industry as well as puts together newsletters and other publications. She’s also a fifth generation farm girl from central Kansas, where her parents operate a wheat and cattle operation.

 

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Felfies in D.C.

As you all know, I went to Washington D.C. to speak on the CropLife America 2014 Policy Conference. Of course I am going to write a ton about it, but for now, because I’m still stumbling around in a daze, asking myself if that really just happened, I’m posting some Felfies I took.

They had little wines on the plane! After I finished it, I realized I was going to miss my connection flight. It's cool though....

They had little wines on the plane! After I finished it, I realized I was going to miss my connection flight. It’s cool though….

Because I got to meet Keedi and Dana! They never spoke to a 6th generation cattle rancher before, so we had a wonderful conversation that made our flight time zoom by!

Because I got to meet Keedi and Dana! They never spoke to a 6th generation cattle rancher before, so we had a wonderful conversation that made our flight time zoom by!

My hotel was super nice. I may have enjoyed it a whisper more than I should have (but come on, I live in a barn!).

My hotel was super nice. I may have enjoyed it a whisper more than I should have (but come on, I live in a barn!).

I had one free day to roam around D.C. and let me tell you, I put some miles on my poor little feet!

I had one free day to roam around D.C. and let me tell you, I put some miles on my poor little feet!

Felfie with the Washington Monument.

Felfie with the Washington Monument.

I love the Jefferson Memorial. He was such a powerful thinker.

I love the Jefferson Memorial. He was such a powerful thinker.

I finally got to meet my friends Tim and Alex and spend some time with them. They took me on a walking tour of parts of the City I never would have seen, it was beautiful!!

I finally got to meet my friends Tim and Alex and spend some time with them. They took me on a walking tour of parts of the City I never would have seen, it was beautiful!!

We had dinner the night before the conference with the other panelist. I didn't have any cow poo on me AND I wore make-up!

We had dinner the night before the conference with the other panelist. I didn’t have any cow poo on me AND I wore make-up!

Folks, my felfie with Ali Velshi, the crowing glory of my felfie collection. I was a tad star struck.

Folks, my felfie with Ali Velshi, the crowing glory of my felfie collection. I was a tad star struck.

Ali Velshi has some badass socks, but I think my boots can hold their own.

Ali Velshi has some badass socks, but I think my boots can hold their own.

 

And finally, this cowgirl went home.

And finally, this cowgirl went home.

This conference was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever had the honor to be involved with, and I was so grateful for the experience. Next week they will be posting videos of the conference, so I can share more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Field Trip to Washington D.C. and #NPC14

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington D.C. to be a panelist for this conference. Ecstatic does not begin to describe how I feel. This is such an amazing opportunity for me. I am especially excited that I was invited as a rancher – I feel like our voices are slowly starting to be heard and valued.

 

NPC14

This is be live streaming, so if you’d like to watch me, please go here for more information. If you have a twitter account, please use hash-tag #NPC14 to following along!

Fair warning Dear Readers, I know this conference will inspire and teach me. Be prepared for lots of posts and pictures about it!

 

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Croplife America 2014 National Policy Conference

About a month ago I got an email inviting me to take part in a National Policy Conference in Washington D.C. As a speaker. For CropLife America. I immediately disregarded it. You see, I tend not to leave the Ranch. In fact, the last time I successfully left the Ranch and the general Chico area for over a night was in 2007.

The reason for my lack of traveling has been anxiety. I suffered from chronic anxiety for several years, traveling was a guaranteed panic attack. But therapy has helped me overcome that obstacle, so it was no longer a valid excuse.

Another reason I don’t like to leave the Ranch is, we’re busy. Like 97% of other American farms and ranches, we are family owned. Leaving my Parents here, while I tra la la in the big city, doesn’t sound like a nice thing to do. But I shared the e-mail about attending the Conference with my Parents, and they said “go, you need to do this”. There goes another valid excuse not to leave.

The more I thought about attending, the more it sounded like a good idea. I love to talk about agriculture. I love policy. I think it is important for farmers and ranchers to tell our story to anyone that will listen. I need to practice what I preach on a grander scale. It’s time for me to move beyond speaking to high school classes and local government groups.

 

Look! It's me!

Look! It’s me! (and famous people!!! OMG)

I received another e-mail urging me to respond. I did. The e-mail turned into a phone call, the phone call turned into a decision. I am going to Washington D.C. to talk about Ag policy. I haven’t been to the East Coast since I was 15!

Look! It's 15 year old me!

Look! It’s 15 year old me!

I never imagined that I would ever do something like this. I feel like all my years dedicated to telling my story, talking about agriculture and urging others to do the same is being noticed. I’m excited. And determined to make my supporters (you, reading this) proud.

If you are in the greater DC area during this time, won’t you consider joining this conference? I would love to see some “familiar” faces in the crowd!

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, Media, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized