Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just call them the Energizer Dairy

In today's news, we have been hearing a lot of recent updates on energy creation. These topics range from wind and solar to shale and biofuels. However, all of them are focused on providing clean, renewable energy sources that can be used for years to come. Your stance may differ depending on the energy type discussed. But, it is up to us as consumers to look at all possible avenues of production to keep the lights on in our homes and the engines running in our automobiles.

I discovered an interesting article published by the New York Times about a new form of energy and fuel. Fair Oaks Farms of Fair Oaks, Ind. is one of the largest dairy operations in the country, with around 30,000 cows. They are showing innovation because they are not only inviting the public to join them on the farm to see their operation and participate in fun activities like cheese making, but they are using the other less-desired byproducts, manure, to create energy.

As mentioned in the NY Times, "the farm is running sophisticated $12 million “digester” facilities that process its overabundance of manure, capturing natural gas that runs electric generators or is pumped underground to a fueling station."

Any remaining manure byproducts are then spread on farm fields as fertilizer. With the fuel being produced directly on the farm, the farm owners were able to build two fuel stations and open them to the public. Because of these pumps, Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, believes they will substitute nearly 2 million gallons of diesel per year.

Think about all of the innovation that went behind this project. From planning how to use the manure, building the equipment and marketing the new fuel station, Fair Oaks has underwent much planning and marketing to make this new project a success. Being featured in the NY Times is a great publicity opportunity and is helping to advocate for new energy methods in the agricultural industry.

Do you feel these new energy outlets are being properly marketed? How do you feel other energy methods like shale, wind or solar compare to the marketing of biofuels and natural gases?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Caroline the American Girl

I have always claimed myself to be an American girl. I am patriotic, devoted to the greater good and involved in providing for our nation through the agricultural industry. A few days ago, I found something that brought me back to my younger-years and passion for being an American Girl.

The American Girl company recently created a new doll set that ties to my background and passion in agriculture. I own two of my own American Girl dolls from when I was a younger girl, and when I discovered a new doll focused on working on her uncle's farm, I jumped on the opportunity to learn more!

I started to scope out the American Girl website and quickly found what I had been searching for: Caroline. The new doll is named Caroline and she is accompanied by a red calf named Garnet.

I could not have been more excited to discover a doll that not only shared my name, but also had a red calf with it. I determined that the calf breed must be Shorthorn. I may be a bit biased, as Shorthorn is the breed of cattle I own, but I was thrilled to see a breed of cattle besides the typically black and white Holstein.

If you are unfamiliar with the American Girl brand, they create these 18-inch dolls and write books about stories these girls have experienced. As quoted on their website:
"These nine-year-old fictional heroines live during important times in America's past, providing "girl-sized" views of significant events that helped shape our country, and they bring the history alive for millions of children."
I find it unique that American Girl is marketing this new doll with a story and involvement in agriculture. It seems to me that agriculture has been making its way into our daily lives more frequently and this makes my outlook for future careers even more exciting! With large companies like American Girl promoting farming and agriculture lifestyles, this will help advocate and educate young girls about this important industry.

I convinced my mom to purchase the calf for me. I couldn't resist adding it into my American Girl collection! Once I receive it, I will be sure to compose a review on their website about how happy I am to see them promoting agriculture in their new collection.

American Girl Caroline and her steer Caesar

I couldn't help but share a picture to depict my background and American girl self. This is from my county fair in 2011 when I was washing my steer, Caesar. I love the connection you can have with animals and I think this image really shows the bond we had. Do you think they could write a story about me one day?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sharing the Smoky Mountains

This past week, I did something I have never done before: took a vacation during spring break. However, I did not do the typical spring break with the warmth of a beach. Instead, I traveled to Gatlinburg, Tenn. with a group of friends and stayed in a cabin within the Great Smoky Mountains.

The trip was certainly an adventure and provided us with a plethora of stories to take home. I was able to indulge in some great views for taking photographs, while the other boys got their fill on hiking, lounging at the cabin and touring the surrounding towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

As I reflected on our experiences this past week, I realized I would have never been interested in partaking in this trip before if it weren't for the many methods of advertising and publicity that is done for the area. When visiting Gatlinburg, it is plain to see it is a tourist attraction. From the national park having many different side areas for cars to pull off and view the mountains to overcrowded amount of shopping centers and amusement attractions, the area offered a wide variety of things for tourists to participate in and enhance their Tennessee experience.

From a communication standpoint, I think Gatlinburg does a great job at advertising the diverse options that travelers can experience. Whether you review the methods used on websites and social media or the traditional techniques with billboards, radio and television advertisements in the local area, there is a lot of successful marketing being presented to continue reeling in consumers like myself.

This was my first time in Tennessee and if I am able to go back in the future, I hope to see a different part of the state that is not as consumer driven. After taking this trip, I am grateful to have had this experience and see what these little areas do to market their assets to travelers.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Communicating on the Capitol

The past few days, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for my internship with Ohio Farm Bureau. This trip is for farm bureau county presidents to learn about agricultural policy and interact with legislatures and organizational leaders at the Capitol. The idea of sharing a personal agricultural story was a primary message shared throughout the sessions. But the fact is, there is more work to be done than just sharing a simple story. We must act upon our communication efforts and then we can truly see the impact we can make for our causes.

I met with Congressman Bob Latta from my congressional district to discuss current topics relating to agricultural policy like a new farm bill, energy expansion, water regulations and more. What was most beneficial about this visit was the fact that since he is from my area of the state, all of these issues directly related to him and his family at home.

One of the key points Latta made was that it is not merely up to him to communicate our thoughts, but for us to get in touch with other organizations and governmental leaders to ensure our voice will be heard.

I think Latta does a great job of connecting with people in his district besides frequently traveling back home. He is very active on his Twitter and commented during our meeting that he "must travel and connect with the people who put him in office to do his job right". The county presidents and I enjoyed interacting with Latta and he encouraged us to reach out so he could visit their farms and stay connected with the local communities.

In addition to our congressional visits, participants had the opportunity to hear from different speakers at the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and more congressional speakers like Speaker John Boehner, congressmen Paul Ryan, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as other legislative leaders from Ohio. From this trip, I was able to learn more about my interests in policy making and potential job opportunities that await me in DC. Learning how to communicate on the Capitol has been an exciting experience that I am eager to share with others. So now, it is your turn.

What is stopping you from communicating with your congressional leaders to turn your messages into actions? How do you think policy makers can enhance their understanding and use of communication to make a greater impact for our country?