A year ago, I was proud to be a volunteer on the team of people launching the AgChat Foundation. And I must admit, while there was a real rush of adrenaline associated with the Foundation’s launch, there was some sense of wonder about whether a small group of people could start such an ambitious project in the midst of a community that offered incredible support and through mediums that include so many critics.
While some of the things we had hoped to accomplish were overly ambitious, it appears to me that we underestimated the power our community had in other areas. The first training session was incredible and the number of people who are reaching out to help other farmers learn about how to use social media is incredible. I wanted to look back and highlight just some of the accomplishments of which I think the AgChat Foundation volunteers should be proud.
With the dynamic of social media, the inclusiveness of AgChat Foundation makes participation and interest in the mission of “empowering farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.”
- Volunteers who serve as officers, members of the voting board and members of the advisory board can be seen on the Faces of the Foundation page of the website. The Foundation is also lucky to have volunteers who help further that mission through doing work with teams focused on communications, training, fund-raising, strategic campaigns, technology scholarships and data analysis.
- People who have participated in the Foundation’s training are probably the best judges of the organization’s activity and whether the mission is being accomplished. There has been one full-blown training conference that was held in Chicago in August. You can follow those folks on Twitter thanks to a list the Foundation created. A number of others were able to participate in a workshop in
- There are also a number of individuals, companies and organizations who have supported the Foundation through financial and service donations.
If you haven’t officially connected with the Foundation, I suggest you get to it! Get in touch with the Foundation’s leadership at [email protected] if you’d like to volunteer for one of the teams working to empower farmers or go to the PayPal account on the top left of agchat.org to contribute. I can tell you that it has been incredibly rewarding for me personally.
What do we have to be proud of?
Besides the fact that the organization was launched successfully and the volunteers not only got some projects off the ground, but have grown significantly in the first year! Some of the things I think are highlights are:
- The launch of agchat.org as a hub for the various social media channels the Foundation has! Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube!
- Awesomeness in one place as the AgChat Foundation Conference in Chicago drew in folks from all over the country! I blogged about it several times so if you want to get a load of it, check out these blog posts heavy on the photos: AgChat Foundation Conference (#ACFC10) Early Arrivals, AgChat Foundation (#ACFC10) Photos Continued and AgChat Foundation (#ACFC10) Training Photos Part 3.
- The Atlanta seminar was smaller, but the enthusiasm was HUGE! Same can be said of gatherings at other meetings where we just happened to have a few folks show up as well as the many meetings, presentations and interviews on the power of social media. The SXSW panel was surely a high note in this regard.
- Encouraged hundreds if not thousands to engage in weekly chats about agriculture and food! You can see transcripts by going to the archives section of AgChat Foundation’s website.
- The #FoodThanks campaign which reached thousands of people during the holidays to help them remember to thank the people who help produce, process, distribute, sell, cook and/or serve the food that is part of the holiday celebrations. My blog post can be read here.
- Connections that none of us ever could have expected! There are connections that result in guests posts on blogs (like this one by Kathy Swift on what cows eat & the one I did for her on my top 10 websites, as well as one by Idaho farmer Lori Anne Lau on working farmers’ markets).
- More farmers blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing and LinkingIn as well as lots of other activities online connecting to more consumers and people not familiar with the many ways farms. I have a few lists of bloggers — just go up to the “blogs I read” tag on the top of the page & it will give you a few categories or you can go for the whole list!
On a personal level, its been unbelievably rewarding to have a venue where I could meet so many people with shared interests in agriculture AND social media. To bring biotech and organic, small and big, suburban and WAY off the beaten path together to work together is the kind of accomplishment that many have attempted and failed and many have also tried to make sure such efforts weren’t successful. To think I had even the tiniest bit of that success, is something that I find invokes great pride and humility.
Thank You All
I want to thank all of the people who have given me a hand on social media this year and hope that I have paid it forward! Whether it was offering advice on a post, liking or RTing something I wrote about my ag perspective, sharing a story of yours, grinning as I snapped a photo, lending an ear when I was thrilled about something or frustrated about something or whatever it was. Thanks for making this one incredible year. I can only imagine what the future holds for the AgChat Foundation!