Missing the Enthusiasm of Chris Raines aka @ITweetMeat #agchat

My day has had huge ups and downs already. I was celebrating having accomplished my shopping, wrapping and shipping and just a few minutes later I saw a tweet from my friend Amy of @KYFarmersMatter. It was simple and just like that the lights dimmed for me.


Another friend of ours had already replied and the next tweet caused my bit of the world to shake.


I know it will be hard for other people to understand how sad such news could make me when I had only been able to hangout with Chris Raines (or ITweetMeat to his many Twitter friends) in person a few times, but he had such an incredible light within him that it traveled from Pennsylvania to Memphis & St. Louis frequently!

As I read the Centre Daily and saw the information about the car accident, tears welled up. I keep hoping someone will tell me its all just a horrible mistake and Chris is fine. And my thoughts immediately went to so many friends who I knew must either be grieving or unaware of the tragedy. Its hard to put this all into words, and a short phone call with my niece proved to me that I should try putting words on the blog, as talking about this will be very hard.

Here are some of the many reasons why I will miss Chris:

  • Chris had an INCREDIBLE mind. A month or so ago, a colleague and I were talking about some livestock issues. I decided I needed a touchstone, someone who knew nothing about what we were talking about to see how it looked from a different viewpoint. We got on the phone with Chris and he was asking all kinds of questions before I knew what hit me. Luckily my colleague understood the questions and enjoyed the exercise fully! Our work will be so much better for having gotten Chris’ input and yet we will not be able to reach the heaights I think we would had Chris been able to continue with the project.
  • Chris brought enthusiasm and excitement to everything he did. Whether it was getting a new puppy or finding a gap in the information about meat that existed, Chris gave EVERYTHING I was involved with him on 110 percent. Every interaction with Chris, even as we talked about a recent breakin at his apartment, left me feeling better than I had before I talked to, tweeted or Skyped with him.
  • Chris loved people. A lot of people say they are “a people person” and I never heard Chris say this, but it was written in every action. He found interacting with people invigorating. Sitting next to him at the first AgChat Foundation board meeting and conference had untold benefits as both of us were meeting people in real life we had talked to online for years. Chris took time to get all of us and he did the same thing online. He didn’t look at labels but looked beyond them and found unique friendships at every turn.
  • Chris loved meat and farms, and not just in tweets! He inspired people to learn through his passion. The extent to which he went to help Flat Stanley and my nephew learn about meat processing will never be forgotten. Jake and I talked about Chris and the adventures Stanely had with him when Jake had his first chance to meet some cows up close. No doubt he also took away Jake’s trademark phrase for steak -“man candy” as it met with much delight for Chris.

I’m going to miss trading tales of iPad apps with Chris as he helped me discover so many things that an agnerd needs to know.

I’ll miss a friend who I could talk ag and politics with and enjoy both conversations equally.

I’ll wonder who’s going to be out there at the screenings of movies that misrepresent agriculture…. Chris did so many of those events and made a real difference by making sure critical thinking was used.

For Chris’ family and close friends, I want you to know that there are likely thousands of people like me who are thinking of you in this time of what must be intense griefing. You may not see us at the services memorializing Chris, but I am certain there are thousands of us who are better and who understand more thanks to having known Chris in real life or through social media. And we will be carrying on some of the things that he cared about.

I’ll try to make note of other tributes to Chris as I see them and link to them here… feel free to add a link if you have one too. For now, I’ll go on a bit better simply for having processed this as I wrote this post…. maybe I can help others see that incredible light Chris always gave me when I have the next conversation on the topic, even if it is paired with tears.


I want to end this on a note that makes me smile. This story entertained & intrigued a friend in the way Chris entertained so many of us. Made me laugh at how he pulled together so many things into a perfect package. When I mentioned the Flat Stanley connection…. I got a quizzical look. I had to go on to explain that only Chris would think to take the time to make a labcoat and hard hat for a kid’s paperdoll! And then take that paperdoll through every piece of equipment and every stage of the meat labs! Laughter, learning and people. That was Chris!

Learn more the way taught Flat Stanley about meat processing in his post I mentioned above but had to point out how he brought it all together so uniquely.

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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31 Responses to Missing the Enthusiasm of Chris Raines aka @ITweetMeat #agchat

  1. Marjory Walker December 19, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Janice, thank you for this wonderful tribute. I am so sorry for your personal loss, and for the greater loss that ag will feel. Words aren’t adequate, I’m just sorry.

  2. Michelle December 19, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Beautiful Tribute Janice.

  3. SlowMoneyFarm December 19, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    :.-(He’ll be missed more than he could have known.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Exactly! That drive to do good and have fun at the same time is infectious! He will be missed sorely.

  4. Jeff December 19, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Janice, my heartbroken sentiments exactly.
    – @JeffaStier

  5. Joyce Pinson December 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Took my breathe away this morning. One of our best laughs ever was over Lady Gaga’s outrageous “Meat Dress.” We didn’t talk often, but was one of those people I always looked to as a great resource. So sad.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

      LOVED the meat dress convos…. was it skirt steak? LOL! Great smiles from Chris on that one!

  6. dadekian December 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

  7. Mark Lathrop December 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    What a terrible tragedy…although I only knew Chris through SM, I felt like I knew him as a friend…God Bless you Chris.

  8. Natalie Hummel December 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Janice, I am so saddened to hear this news today. Chris was one of my compatriots in the campaign to convince extension colleagues that social media was/is a valuable way to get the message out to many different audiences. The first time I met him was in person at an eXtension workshop in Austin, Texas where he convinced me that tweeting was a viable way to communicate. His example of gathering metrics on tweets and blogs was being used to model reporting for Promotion and Tenure at our institution. I agree with all your points about his extreme level of dedication to production agriculture, social media communication, and deep commitment to people. Chris will be greatly missed by all his colleagues across the nation. Thanks for writing this memorial to Chris from all of us. – @NatHummel

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      There are a lot of extension folks who saw how quickly Chris went feet first into social media & have been changing their practices and helping more of the public as a direct result of Chris. Incredible impacts!

  9. Daren Williams December 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Janice, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been unable to get Chris out of my mind all morning and was wondering why the news hit me so hard. After all, we only met a couple of times. I think you summed it up. Based on all the Facebook posts, Chris obviously made a huge impact on a lot of people he never even met in “real life.” I’m glad to have known him, if even only through a few brief encounters.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

      You’re welcome. Its an odd dynamic not to have spent much time with someone in real life yet have such a deeply personal connection with them. I have to say laughing on Skype through a session of Chris moderating agchat was something for the ages…. Need to keep thinking of those times when he’d knock me out with the laughs!

  10. ullabear December 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post. You captured Chris’ spirit, he really was an intellectual force; curious, dynamic and a gentleman. I hate to use the past tense. He was also a talented artist. It is such a huge loss. He was always there to help. It isn’t fair he is gone.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      I had incredible trouble using the past tense as I wrote this…. kept getting back on the net, Twitter & Facebook in hopes that someone would tell me it was all a mistake. No such luck. Deeply saddened for what this means to people and to agriculture as a whole as we needed some folks like Chris to shake things up and make them work better…. always need those people.

  11. sheepwriter December 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Great post about an incredibly sad event.

    I am just heartbroken over this. Chris was gracious, kind, witty and intelligent – all wrapped up in one very passionate-for-ag man. He shared his knowledge willingly yet was always willing to learn. Praying that his family will take comfort in knowing how much Chris is loved.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      My thoughts exactly. When someone works further away from home, the family knows bits and pieces, but hopefully the outpouring of love will reach them!

  12. David Rahe December 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    He just started following me on twitter. I was looking forward to his comments

  13. CPV December 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    great article. He was one of my teachers at PSU and will be missed

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      He’s exactly the kind of professor that I would have wanted in college! I think fun and learning should always go together! No need to drudge through it and I’m sure Chris would make things really interesting in class — afterall he did it daily in life!

  14. susan December 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Great post, Janice. and the Flat Stanley pic just made me laugh!

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      Mission Accomplished! Chris brought me so many smiles, I thought it was the right way to close the post.

  15. trackmycrop December 20, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Thank You JP for your wonderful tribute. Love the Flat Stanley Story.

    • Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON December 20, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Chris made my day when he got me all those Flat Stanley photos! My nephew and his class LOVED IT too!


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