AgChat Foundation Searching for Executive Director

AgChat FoundationThe AgChat Foundation is looking for a new Executive Director. Interested? Better know your agricultural social media stuff! “Retiring” from the position is the first AgChat Foundation ED, Emily Zweber.

“Since her hiring in 2011, Emily Zweber has been a crucial member of our team here at AgChat, serving as our Executive Director. During her tenure, she has been a tremendous asset in successfully steering ACF to become the leader in educating and equipping farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals and educators with the tools needed to effectively tell their stories of agriculture through social media platforms,” Foundation President Jeff VanderWerff said, “We are saddened by the loss of Emily and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

The new Executive Director will oversee the general administration of the organization including fundraising, execution of major goals, management of the organization’s structure and personnel and facilitation of all major activities and meetings including board and committee members, among other responsibilities. For a complete description, please visit the job announcement located at

Interested parties may submit their resume to by April 15. ACF expects the new Executive Director to join by mid-2014.

Cultivate & Connect with AgChat

AgChat 2014 ConferenceCalling all aspiring agvocates. The 2014 AgChat Foundation, Cultivate and Connect Conference will be held in Austin, TX, on August 21-22.

It has been said that everything is bigger in Texas. The AgChat Foundation’s 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference to be held at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in beautiful downtown Austin, Texas, August 21-22, 2014, will be no exception. For the first time, our annual conference will include an open registration process which does not require participants to complete an application and receive an invitation to attend. Additionally, there will be no limit on the number of alumni attendees nor a limit on non-farmers and non-ranchers. It will be the best and biggest AgChat conference to date.

Who should attend?

Cultivate & Connect is open to all farmers, ranchers, growers, agribusiness people and agriculture educators from all walks of agriculture. Large, small, organic, conventional, urban, hobby? You are all invited to attend.

Why should you attend?

Expansive networking within the AgChat community
Connect with leading experts and your peers
Learn and share innovative and cutting edge ideas
The best of the best in Ag speakers
Cultivate & Connect brings together the latest in technology and the farmers and ranchers who are using it
An experience you will never forget
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Meet Anna Leigh from Alabama

nfms14-annaWe brought Anna Leigh Peek to the National Farm Machinery Show last week as our “unofficial” intern for the day, just because we are very impressed with the motivation and self-confidence of this Alabama farm girl who is about to graduate from Auburn University with a degree in agricultural communications.

“I had grown up for 13 years of my life on the farm so I have a deep appreciation and love for agriculture which motivated me to start farming last year a little bit on my own,” Anna Leigh told us.

Chuck met Anna Leigh at an AgChat conference and she made a point to look me up at the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta last month because she is determined to land a good job in the field of ag communications when she graduates in May. “There’s a lot of things I haven’t gotten to try yet, but right now I can see myself doing some sort of agricultural public relations,” she said.

Anna Leigh was excited to spend a day with us and learn more about what we do at an event, as well as get to meet some more folks in the industry. She is active on Twitter @AnnaLeighPeek and has her own blog “AL from AL” – Anna Leigh from Alabama! Please feel free to contact us to find out more about her, but we give her the ZimmComm seal of approval if you are looking for a new hire who is highly motivated and a fast learner with plenty of great communications and social media skills.

Listen to my interview with Anna Leigh here: Interview with Anna Leigh Peek, Auburn graduating senior

National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by FMC and New Holland Agriculture

Let’s Give #FoodThanks this Thanksgiving

FoodThanksThis Thanksgiving let’s all give a little thanks for the food we have to eat. When it comes to food what are you thankful for? Let everyone know via your social media channels using the hashtag – #FoodThanks. I’ll start with this platter of surf and turf from my grill last weekend. Grilled T-bones, asparagus and Gulf Amberjack foil wrapped with green chiles, tomato, mushrooms, garlic, red onions, olive oil and my own selection of special slices. It was all good and all good for you. And every bit of it was available because of hard working farmers and fishermen. Thank you!

The AgChat Foundation just started its fourth annual FoodThanks campaign which features “Give a Bag. Get a Bag.” to encourage participants to help their local food bank.

“The campaign aims to bring together everyone in the food system, no matter who you are, how you fit into in, or your favorite social media channel,” says Jeff VanderWerff, a Michigan farmer and president of the AgChat Foundation. “It’s about forgetting the food fights and taking time to share thanks for safe, abundant food.”

Use Instagram or Vine to show a meal that’s special to you and explain why. Share a recipe and tag someone you’re enjoying it with.

Join the #foodthanks Twitter chat and Google Hangout – Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8/7 CST.

“In addition to saying #foodthanks online, the AgChat Foundation is encouraging participants to give #foodthanks offline this year,” adds VanderWerff. “Consider giving your time—whether 10 minutes or an hour—to make a meal for a neighbor or to volunteer at the food bank or homeless shelter.”

FoodThanksStarting Nov. 18, participants can pledge to donate a bag of food to a local food pantry via an online form at Those who take the pledge will receive a special edition #foodthanks tote. Quantities are limited.

“It’s a simple pledge, followed by a lasting reminder to be thankful every time we visit the grocery store—even when the holiday season is over,” VanderWerff says.

Agvocating with Youtility

ZimmCast 409The AgChat Foundation has a new President after the board meeting held during the 2013 National Agvocacy Conference. He’s Jeff VanderWerff, Michigan farmer. I spoke to him during the conference and with our keynote speaker.

Jeff VanderWerffJeff told me that the organization is in great shape as it continues its mission of “Empowering farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.” That’s what training conferences like this one accomplish when up to 100 new agvocates go back home to tell their stories from the farm. It’s also what social media campaigns like #FoodThanks do and another one is planned for this fall.

Jay BaerYoutility is a concept that the newly trained agvocates from the 2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference got a full dose of. That is also the title of a new book by Jay Baer who keynoted the conference. Jay and I sat down for a chat about his Youtility concept and changes in technology and media. I think you’ll enjoy his ideas. One that stood out for me is how much more difficult the job of a media buyer is today when you consider the incredible fragmentation of audiences that are using not only traditional media but the new media of today.

Listen to this week’s ZimmCast here: Agvocating with Youtility

2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photo Album

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.

Agvocates On Way Home

National Agvocacy 2.0 ConferenceThe 2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference has come to a close and another group of passionate, trained agvocates are on their way home for some needed rest before continuing to tell stories from their farms.

I’ve attended several of these conferences and they keep getting bigger and better. Last night we had some great social activity during the “traditional” swap meet where attendees exchanged various products and information from their home areas. Thanks to Alltech we also had some fine Kentucky Ale to wind down with too!

Keep this conference on your radar for 2014 to attend or perhaps consider sponsoring.

2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photos

Consumer & Food Research Update

Jenn DahmOnce again this year the attendees at the National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference had a presentation from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. Jenn Dahm gave us an update on research on consumers and food the organization has conducted. A key takeaway from her presentation is that transparency with consumers is not as difficult as we might think it is and that all segments of agriculture have a great story to tell.

In the survey USFRA conducted they found that the food nutrition label is not the only way consumers get information from food packaging. Other elements like stickers or QR codes are also important ways consumers are getting information.

I also spoke with Lisa Cassady about how USFRA is using this type of information. She says they’ve provided training to over 9,000 farmers about how to tell their story.

You can listen to my interview with Jenn and Lisa here: Interview with Jenn Dahm & Lisa Cassady

2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photos

AgChat Foundation Training New Agvocates

2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 ConferenceThe 2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference is underway in Charlotte, NC. We’ve got a new crop of agvocates in training mode today and tomorrow, over 100 of them! Our program is just underway with keynote speaker Jay Baer, author of Youtility, Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype.

We’re going to explore conversations beyond the choir, look at some consumer and food research and talk about everything from Facebook to Blogging. I’ll be sharing a presentation tomorrow morning on media content creation.

If you’d like to keep up with what’s going on, please follow the Twitter hashtag, #ACFC13.

You can find photos from the conference here: 2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photos

National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference

AgChat Foundation ConferenceThis week I’ll be attending the 2013 National Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Charlotte, NC. It has been fun to see the excitement build for the farmers and everyone who will be attending. For many it will be there first event of this kind. My ticket is printed and so are my boarding passes!

On Friday I will be sharing a presentation with Katie Pinke titled, “Fire, Aim, Ready! Media Creation on the Farm.” We’ll cover technical topics like equipment and software as well as posting media content via social media networks and have live examples to share.

The AgChat Foundation continues to grow while “Empowering farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.”

Join #TeamAgChat

#TeamAgChatIt’s team building time for the AgChat Foundation. Have you joined the team yet? If you’re active on Twitter then follow or use #TeamAgChat to help the organization reach it’s goal this week of raising $10,000. The #TeamAgChat event is live and will conclude on June 28. I got my donation taken care of and hope you will too.

If you value what AgChat Foundation gives to the farm and ranch community, then it is time to show your support. The AgChat Foundation is nearing its fiscal year end and has a goal to be fully funded by June 30, 2013.

Could you support it at $10, $50, $75 or even a dollar at day? Any and all amounts will help reach the goal

To help sweeten the deal, everyone who supports the Foundation at the $75 level or higher will receive Social Media Guru Jay Baer’s new book titled “Youtility-The Marketing Strategy for the Age of Information Overload”. ALSO, every support (no matter the amount), will be entered in a daily drawing to win Youtility as well.

Last Call to Apply for 2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference

AgChat FoundationToday is your last day to send in an application for the coolest conference on how to agvocate – the 2013 National AgChat Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. Actually, it’s really the only conference all about agvocating! Can you believe this is the 4th Annual? And it’s going to be “the best ever.”

During the Alltech International Symposium I spoke with @DairyCarrie or rather Carrie Chestnut Mess, about the conference since she is one of the committees putting it together. You’ll want to hear her describe what is already planned and why you should be a part of it.

Listen to my interview with Carrie here and get your application in: Interview with Dairy Carrie

2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Application Deadline

AgChat FoundationThe deadline is approaching fast for applications to the 2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference. It’s going to be in Charlotte, NC, August 22-23.

Farm Credit Idea Share PanelI visited with AgChat Foundation Executive Director, Emily Zweber, pictured second from right with our panel group from last week’s Farm Credit Idea Share. She told me about the application process and encourages farmer and ranchers to take a step forward in their agvocacy efforts.

Listen to my interview with Emily here: Interview with Emily Zweber

To start us off with conviction is Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype. Jay is followed by the Beyond the Choir, Ag Conversations that will help spark your mind about agriculture, food, and consumers.

The core part of the time will be spent on sessions like Keeping up with Facebook and Trolls Under the Bridge (and what you can do to side step them). And, discover the Practical Side of Media Creation, what it takes to capture that short video or picture and share it well. Case studies will help connect you to real uses of social media in agriculture.

Jay Baer Convince and Convert When and where does this journey start? August 22 – 23, 2013 at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte, North Carolina is when and where you will be able to connect with Agvocacy 2.0 alumni and presenters. This event is your opportunity to discover and bring home some new ways to tell your farm or ranch story.

How do you sign up? Up to 75 people representing all sectors of agriculture will be invited to participate, with priority given to farmers and ranchers. Agvocacy 2.0 was completely sold out in both 2011 and 2012, so interested applicants should apply early. Selected attendees will be required to pay a $375 registration fee.

Register Today for 2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Training

agchat-logo-no-foundationRegistration is open for the AgChat Foundation’s 2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference. This year’s conference will be held August 22-23 at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you are wondering how you can share your passion for agriculture online with others, then this is a great opportunity to learn how to tell your farm or ranch story.

Up to 75 people representing all sectors of agriculture will be invited to participate. Deadline to apply is May 24th. The last two conferences have been sold out, so don’t wait.

Attention Agvocacy 2.0 graduates! The AgChat Foundation is accepting up to 25 alumni who also endorse a first-time applicant. This will allow for collaboration between those with beginner and advanced social media skill sets.

Author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, Jay Baer, will kickoff event. Followed by the Beyond the Choir, Ag Conversations that will help spark your mind about agriculture, food and consumers.

Register here and email with questions.

Happy 4th Birthday AgChat

Happy Birthday AgChatHappy 4th Birthday AgChat. That’s right. Four years of a weekly Twitter conversation about agriculture and food (FoodChat).

Last night was a lively AgChat on the topic of “What’s needed in #socialmedia for #ag.” Our moderator was the very popular @cowartandmore who did a marvelous job.

You can find the very first tweet here:

Testing out #agchat…currently scheduled for Tuesdays at 8-10 p.m.

Thanks to Michele Payn-Knoper for getting this started. Thanks to Kathy Swift for the image she tweeted last night!

Activists Fail to Disrupt AgChat

Last night’s AgChat topic was animal welfare. You can find some good information on animal welfare here. Apparently the animal rights activists got word of it and rallied their troops to try to disrupt the regular weekly conversation. In fact, the outreach coordinator at HSUS sent out an alert which I saw a copy of . It was pathetic to see. Very PETA-like IMO. He even sent out a form tweet for them to use. Here is one that was used. This same tweet was posted by numerous individuals who I am sure had absolutely no idea what they are doing.

Post Update: You can now see the archive of last night’s AgChat here.

Bottom line is that their tactic didn’t work. AgChat was moderated last night by founder Michele Payn-Knoper and she handled the situation professionally, calmly and in a very classy way. I say classy because it was such a contrast to the wacktivists and their tweets and complete refusal to participate in a way that allows for genuine interaction.

This effort comes right after a similar effort we’ve seen in the last week regarding our report on Ag Secretary Vilsack’s HSUS remark at the American Farm Bureau annual mtg. and attempt to disrupt our latest ZimmPoll. There is no common ground with these folks and fortunately they are a very small but vocal minority. However, the militant vegans at HSUS/PETA have conned a lot of money out of people by playing on their emotions. They are using that money to impact legislation to the detriment of farming in America. The lies they tell that I’ve seen in their online posted comments is appalling. I think these folks are becoming more active as they see farmers become more engaged in social media and adept at telling their story. They don’t like their money base to learn the truth about animal agriculture and animal welfare. Hopefully it’s hurting them where it counts, in their pocket book!

AgChat Foundation Unveils New Website

AgChat Foundation New WebsiteThe AgChat Foundation is happy to announce a newly designed website. Special thanks to Charleston|Orwig for assisting the organization on this project.

In case you’re wondering how the AgChat Foundation benefits agriculture, read this.

An engaged community. A collective voice. A chance for agriculture to work together for the common good. The ability to touch millions of people who may only connect with farms because they eat, and that may or not occur to them to be a connection. The use of social media in agriculture allows the agriculture community a unique connection to the 98% of people who do not reside on a farm or ranch. The telling of their stories are among the most believable resources available which means they have the strongest voice for agriculture. The Foundation is designed to serve as a conduit for those farmers and ranchers as we empower them to become agvocates.

Giving #FoodThanks Time

This week marks the third annual AgChat #Foodthanks celebration, a time to reflect on the blessing of all the food choices we have in this nation. Farmers, ranchers, processors, butchers, bakers, chefs, grocers, truckers and more all make it possible for us to have healthy food on plates.

Today and tomorrow in particular, AgChat encourages you to show your #Foodthanks via social media.

Twitter – Join our monthly #FoodChat twitter conversation Tuesday, November 20 from 8:00pm – 10:00pm ET. We will be talking #Foodthanks and of course the upcoming Thanksgiving celebration. Direct message @Foodchat any questions you would like to have included in the conversation.

On Wednesday, November 21st, continue the #Foodthanks conversation. Tweet your favorite recipe, farm blog or tell us why you are giving #Foodthanks. Show the Twitter world your #Foodthanks story.

Facebook – On Tuesday, November 20th, we will be hosting our first ever Facebook Party from 8:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. ET! Similar to our traditional Twitter conversations, we will be engaging in a conversation that focuses on #Foodthanks. Make sure to join the community and show your #Foodthanks.

On Wednesday, November 21st, we will be asking you to share with us your #Foodthanks story. Share your pictures, blog posts and thoughts on your own personal #Foodthanks.

Pinterest – Join us now as we are pinning our #Foodthanks. Follow our #Foodthanks board and we will ask you to join our community and pin your #Foodthanks. Do you have a favorite food blog? How about grandma’s secret pumpkin pie recipe? Pin a picture showing how your family farm makes #Foodthanks possible. Join us on Pinterest now.

What makes you give #Foodthanks?

The Agricultural Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day. The topic is “The Power of We.” I am going to take that to mean the power of the agricultural community. It is made up of all the farmers who grow the crops and raise the livestock we need to feed ourselves. It is also made up of everyone else in the food chain from agribusiness companies and processors to transportation and grocery stores and restaurants. That’s a big community with a lot of Power of We!

It’s also a very diverse community that includes what a lot of people refer to as conventional farmers and those who specialize in organic farming of different types. All of them share common concerns and challenges. All of them want and need to help the non-farm community understand where the food is coming from. That’s where organizations like the AgChat Foundation, USFRA and National Ag Day are playing a role today and there are many more.

I’m writing this in the hopes of continuing to urge and encourage farmers to join the online conversation. So many of you already are. We’re going to see communications technology continue to change as new mobile devices allow us to be constantly in touch. Let’s use that technology to help everyone understand that today’s farmers love and care for their land, for their animals and want to do all they can to become more productive while maintaining a sustainable business.

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts as Blog Action Day develops today. Thank you.

USFRA a Part of Agvocacy 2.0

One of the sponsors of the AgChat Foundation is the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. During the recent Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Kansas City we got to hear from Hugh Whaley, General Manager. He gave our participants an overview of the organization which includes shared values with the AgChat Foundation. Hugh says there are three main goals: “We’re going to enhance public confidence in today’s agriculture, we’re going to make sure that people have the freedom to farm . . . and then involve all facets of the food chain.” USFRA has grown to include almost sixty affiliated farmer led organizations with nineteen industry partner companies. The board has grown from nine to nineteen members. Hugh says that the AgChat Foundation has become the premier social media training organization in the industry and that is just one of the reasons that USFRA supports it.

You can listen to Hugh’s presentation here: USFRA Presention

2012 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photo Album

Social Media Beyond the Choir

AgNerds from across North American came together in Kansas City, MO to attend the 2012 Agvocacy 2.0 Training. “Beyond the Choir” was a common theme throughout the week as we tweaked how to use social media in telling our story of agriculture to those not quite as familiar with it. Some came as social media gurus and others with a lot to learn. Some came from a life-time of farming and others a simple passion for agriculture.

Briåna Belko grew up a city girl in California, but her roots went back to the family farm. Now she works on her families calf ranch and uses social media to share her story, relating to those wearing heels and those in boots.

“It started when I went to college in LA. I had a conversation with a classmate about milk and he honestly thought milk came from the grocery store. I could tell how he said it that he had no idea it came from a cow. That totally through me off because I was born and raised in the city, but I had dairy farms all around me. I knew where my milk came from. So, going into this job I went in with a passion. Knowing there are a lot of people who don’t have the advantage of knowing where there food comes from. It has been a huge learning curve for me. When farmers are talking about different things on the farm I don’t know what they are talking about. I know I represent a larger majority of people who have even less of a clue as to what goes on on farms.”

You can follow Briåna on Twitter @HeelsToBoots and don’t forget to check out her blog, From Heels to Boots.

Listen to my complete interview with the Briåna here: Interview with Briåna Belko

Here’s where our photos can be found. 2012 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference Photo Album