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Tag Archives: Rachel Endecott

Learning How To “Agvocate”

BY RACHEL ENDECOTT

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Nashville, TN.  This conference brought together agriculturalists from across the US and Canada for a day and a half of learning about how to communicate “beyond the choir” about agriculture, with a focus on using social media.  I was fortunate to be chosen to attend this conference, and even more fortunate to have my registration sponsored by the Research, Education, and Endowment Foundation of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

In no particular order, here are my Top 5 Take-Home Messages from Agvocacy 2.0.

  • Be yourself!  Consumer research from the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, as well as feedback we received from 3 “mom bloggers” at the conference suggests that folks outside of agriculture want to know about how their food is produced, but also want to know about the people producing it.

 

  • Pick your platform.  It’s hard to be all things to all people.  Pick a social media platform you are comfortable with and make it your go-to resource.  For me, I prefer blogging and Facebook over Twitter, but I learned more about how I might use Twitter in the future.

 

  • Don’t over-spew information.  The social media world can lead to information overload incredibly quickly.  Putting some thought into your topics, posts, and tweets can lead to positive agvocacy impacts amongst your readers and followers.

 

  • Stick to what you know.  Use your personal experiences and knowledge to communicate with other ag and non-ag folks via social media.  This not only increases the level of trust of your readers or followers, it also allows them a more personal view of what you do (see take-home message #1, “Be yourself!”).

 

  • Face-to-face communication is still key.  This conference focused heavily on social media, and I think those platforms are incredibly powerful tools to use in agvocacy.  However, we cannot forget that the people we interact with on a daily, face-to-face basis might also have questions about agriculture and food production.  What better resource to address those questions than someone involved with producing that food?

I’d like to again thank the Research, Education, and Endowment Foundation of the Montana Stockgrowers Association for sponsoring my registration for this conference.  I learned so much and made great new friends from across the US and Canada who are passionate about agriculture.  It’s nice to know there are kindred spirits out there doing their best to advocate for agriculture!

 

 

 

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Everything I Need to Know I Learned in 4-H

BY RACHEL ENDECOTT 

It’s fair season across the country, and each year I tend to reflect on how my 11-year 4-H career has influenced my life.  And so, here it is…my top 5 list summarizing everything I needed to know that I learned in 4-H.

  1. Ask questions when you don’t know.  Going through life in the dark is no fun!  Take advantage of opportunities to learn from others with more experience than you have.
  2. Not everyone will like you (or your steer, or your homemade muffins, or your sewing project), and that’s okay.  Learning to take criticism is a great life skill.  Keep in mind that those criticisms might just be one person’s opinion on that day, and probably aren’t meant to be personal attacks.
  3. Help others when they need it.  One of the most rewarding parts of 4-H for me was helping my friends with their livestock projects on show day, and having them help me in return.  Opportunities to serve your community or industry are out there, so take advantage of them!
  4. Be ready for the unexpected.  Or, as my grandfather would say, “Make definite plans, but keep them flexible!”  One year, it snowed during our fair in mid-August (probably not a problem in every state!) and we certainly weren’t prepared for that.  But we dressed as warmly as we could and had a fantastic snowball fight.  Some of the most fun times in life happen when you’re not prepared for them.
  5. Networking doesn’t have to be work.  4-H is a remarkable networking system.  One advantage I had over kids who weren’t involved in 4-H is that I knew people from the surrounding communities well before we were involved in playing each other in sports.  This tended to drive my teammates nuts, as I was always “talking to the enemy” at basketball and volleyball games, not to mention bopping around to other school’s camps during track meets.  Oh, the horror!  It’s always great to unexpectedly run into someone you haven’t seen for years and have a, “Do you remember when?” conversation.

Good luck to all those 4-Hers out there.  Have a safe and successful rest of the fair season!

Rachel Endecott was raised on a family cow-calf operation near Ennis, MT.  She is a graduate of Montana and New Mexico State Universities and is currently the Montana State University Extension Beef Cattle Specialist located in Miles City, MT, while continuing to play an integral role on the family ranch.  Rachel writes about her glamorous life on her blog, Escapades of an Asphalt Cowgirl 

 

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The Bright Future of Animal Science

BY RACHEL ENDECOTT

Contestants and advisors from 5 Western universities participated in the Western Region Academic Quadrathlon held at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, MT, June 20-21, 2011. Photo by Colleen Richardson, New Mexico State University.

Recently, the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science held their annual meeting in Miles City, MT.  Each year, scientists, graduate students, and industry stakeholders from across the western states gather to share the latest research in animal science.  It’s not very often that I don’t have to travel for a meeting, so it was a special treat.  Of course, as a trade-off for getting to stay home, we had to help put on the meeting!  It was a lot of work, but a very rewarding week all the same.

New this year, the western regional academic quadrathlon was held in conjunction with the meetings, rather than during the school year.  The AQ is a 4-part animal science contest for undergraduate students.  Each 4-person team participates in a written exam, oral presentation, a hands-on lab practicum, and a quiz bowl.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to organize the contest, which was a bit of a challenge since Fort Keogh – the USDA-ARS/Montana Ag Experiment Station facility where my office is located – isn’t a teaching facility.

But I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, which may or may not be a character flaw.  I actually have experience with the western regional AQ, both as a contestant on the Montana State University team back in the day, and as an advisor during my graduate school days at New Mexico State University.  Lucky for me, my colleagues and friends in Miles City were very gracious with their time and helped me put on a successful contest.

This year, 5 teams from around the region competed in the contest: BYU-Idaho, Colorado State University, New Mexico State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Wyoming.  We began with the one-hour written exam and the oral presentation.  Students were given a packet of information with the theme “Irradiation is the silver bullet to E. coli in food safety”, and each team had an hour to prepare a 12-15 minute presentation.  Each team approached the assignment differently, and it was rewarding to see the creativity and enthusiasm of the students.

The second day of the contest started with the 8-station lab practicum, which included horse, reproductive physiology, beef, range, nutrition, meats, wool, and sheep topics.  The stations were challenging, and it was fun to watch the teams respond to the demanding tasks.  We finished up the afternoon with a double elimination quiz bowl, with the final round played at the opening reception that evening.

With a dramatic, out-of-the-loser-bracket finish (with a minor rain delay), the University of Wyoming won the quiz bowl, which sealed their win of the overall contest.  New Mexico State University finished second, with Colorado State in third place.  The team from UW will compete in the National Collegiate Beef Quiz Bowl at the 2012 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, TN.  I encourage you to attend so you can bask in the glow of the bright future of the animal science industry!

Rachel Endecott was raised on a family cow-calf operation near Ennis, MT.  She is a graduate of Montana and New Mexico State Universities and is currently the Montana State University Extension Beef Cattle Specialist located in Miles City, MT, while continuing to play an integral role on the family ranch.  Rachel writes about her glamorous life on her blog, Escapades of an Asphalt Cowgirl (http://asphaltcowgirlescapades.blogspot.com)

 

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