For me setup day at Farm Science Review is the Sunday before the show starts. The first thing I need is a key to the Ohio Farmer building. And the first person I saw when I went to show headquarters to get that key was Bruce McPheron, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the college of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Science.
“It’s going to be a great show,” the Dean predicted. “Just look around this place. What a perfect exhibition of the scope of agriculture and the new technology available to farmers.”
This was the Dean’s second Farm Science Review and he was present, visible and active on the grounds for all but the very last hours of the show. Our Conservation Farm Family Award luncheon is held on the Thursday and McPheron was present to recognize the winning families. Before the lunch I had a chance to sit down with him for an interview. You will able to read the entire interview in the November issue of Ohio Farmer.
I was especially surprised by how well the new dean understands modern communication. McPheron is an avid tweeter. The practice developed from his years as a scientist traveling to various parts of the world and wanting to share what he was learning. He has 1,600 followers to his “medflygenes” handle. The name is a reflection of his research pursuits. He has sent some 7,000 tweets and likes to average 3 or 4 tweets a day.
“I figure it takes about 30 minutes a day. I like to follow the national and international media to get an overview of what’s going on in the world.
Even before he came to Ohio McPheron was watching what organizations like the Ohio Farm Bureau were tweeting about the livestock care standards. “Ohio and California were important sources for us as we worked through the same situation in Pennsylvania,” says the former dean of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
The greatest advantage of tweeting McPheron says is it drives followers with similar interests to Web sites with more in depth information. “If you see a high quality message you can re-tweet it and share it with others. You work on the backs of other tweeters to spread the word.”
He cites three reasons for pursuing the practice. First it gives him an avenue to talk about the science work conducted at the college and the university. Second, it enables him to stay on top of issues in agriculture. Third it links him to an internal audience at the college.
“I’m not Justin Bieber,” he says. “But it has become second nature to me now.”
He offers one caution, “Always remember you need to live now in this world.”
Good words -- in fewer than 140 characters too.