Standing on Capitol Hill I realized what had made this trip so amazing. I was surrounded by old buildings that had stood for over 100 years. What made them so strong—their foundations. Each building has a strong foundation, holding it up through the years. Each State Officer at the State President’s Conference also has a foundation. As people, our foundations are our values. The reason Kenzie and I’s trip has been so amazing is because we got to spend the week with people who shared the same values as us.
Obviously each of us have slightly different values in our everyday lives, but as agriculturalists we all share similarities. We all value agriculture. We value problem solving. We value service. Our values are an important part of our story—personally and agriculturally. When we advocate for agriculture, we can spout off information and facts all we want, but the most powerful thing we can share is our values.
How do we effectively share those values we all obtain? It is as simple as this: ask, listen, and share. When talking to others, ask what they see as their core values and discover what is of utmost importance to them. As people portray their passions and show what their heart beats for, listen in order to learn. Active listening is key to actually understanding others. After identifying their values, respond by sharing what you stand for. Relate your values back to them. Allow them to look at your personal beliefs and understand where you are coming from. By doing this, we are able to display the true meaning of the agricultural industry.
Instead of using cold, impersonal facts and information, take a different viewpoint. This is where we as agriculturalists sometimes fall short. We rely too heavily on science and data. We need to rely on sharing our unique ag stories and the values that go with them. When we clearly convey our values people listen. They can relate to us and our industry. Ask, share, and listen—this is how we effectively advocate.
From State President’s Conference with love,Annalee Witte and Kenzie Kretzmeier