Fifteen Iowa soybean farmers have stepped forward as volunteer spokespeople on the Iowa Soybean Association's Farm and Food Ambassador team. The goal of the program is to empower ISA members to more effectively communicate issues important to their organization and farming. They participate in workshops to hone interview skills, increase their confidence in public speaking and interpersonal communication and become more proficient in using social media to converse about farm-related issues.
"There's never been a more opportune time for farmers to join the conversation about food and farming," says Aaron Putze, ISA director of communications and external relations. "Farmers are knowledgeable, credible and authentic and have firsthand perspectives on many issues that are of interest to a growing audience of consumers, public officials and media."
Farm families are in a unique position because of what they can bring to the conversation
Putze says many issues drive the public's heightened interest in agriculture including the economy, weather, human health and well-being and environmental quality. Add to that news about global population growth and you have a robust mix of topics that impact every household. "People respect and value the contribution farmers make to the dialogue because, at some level, farming intersects with each of these issues," he adds. "That places farm families in a unique position because they can bring their firsthand knowledge and experience to the conversation."
ISA Farm & Food Ambassadors include: John Askew, Thurman; David Ausberger, Jefferson; Barry Christensen, Lime Springs; Jim Fitkin, Cedar Falls; Lindsay Greiner, Keota; Mark Jackson, Rose Hill; Julianne Johnston, Parkersburg; and Dan Roeder, Ida Grove.
Also: Adam Schmidt, Kanawha; Randy Souder, Rockwell City; Kenny and Leanne Sutter, Pleasantville; Pat Swanson, Ottumwa; Roger Van Ersvelde, Brooklyn; Tom Wall, Iowa City; and Roger Wuthrich, Bloomfield.
The Ambassadors have met for two day-long sessions in Ankeny and are already reaching out in ways that are as unique as each individual's personality and communication style. Some have hosted farm tours and participated in panel discussion about food trends while others have facilitated media interviews, submitted letters to the editor and begun blogging. Together their mission is to make a positive and lasting impact, specifically with fellow Iowans, on behalf of all Iowa farmers.
To learn more about ISA, visit its website at www.iasoybeans.com.