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From the Field: AgChat National Collegiate Congress

Farm Credit is a proud support of the AgChat Foundation through the National Contributions Program. The AgChat Foundation empowers farmers, ranchers and other agvocates to connect through social media platforms and has built the highly visible #AgChat community on Twitter.

More than 70 college students from across the country gathered in Indianapolis, Ind., earlier this year for the first annual AgChat National Collegiate Congress. The social media and advocacy workshop focused on providing attendees with tools to transform how they use social media, and in personal interactions when engaging in agriculture and food conversations.

“Our training focuses on translating participants’ current social media experiences to an understanding of how to tell agriculture’s story,” said Jenny Schweigert, executive director for the AgChat Foundation. “We are taking a proactive approach by fostering the future of the agvocacy community while connecting partners with the best and brightest recruits.”

Students heard from a variety of speakers including dairy farmers Laura Daniels and Carrie Mess also known as Dairy Carrie, as well as a panel of consumers from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a joint university located in urban Indianapolis. The panel allowed the Collegiate Congress attendees, who were predominately from a rural and agricultural backgrounds, an opportunity to discuss shared food values in a real-world setting. As one panelist phrased it, “through our food, we get a chance to vote every single day.”

Michele Payn-Knoper from Cause Matters Corp. closed out the interactive day of learning by challenging the students to connect with others both on and off the farm. “Reaching out and shaking a hand is just as powerful as a tweet,” said Payn-Knoper.

Farm Credit was on hand to meet with agricultural communications students and share information about the nearly 200 career opportunities currently available across the Farm Credit System including internships. Collegiate Congress students had the chance to spin the Farm Credit prize wheel and learn more about the Farm Credit Social Media Corps, which is a growing program designed to help students and young professionals build their social media skills in a real-world setting.