Standing up and speaking out is not something I have always done. To this day it is not something I always feel comfortable or like to do, but I do it anyway. Growing up in Minneapolis I really knew nothing about how the food in my kitchen and on my table came to be. I knew certain things were grown, but had no idea of the amount of work, time frame, costs, and risks involved. When I met my husband, I quickly got a glimpse of what I had been missing. He grew up on a grain farm. He had also helped raise hogs and ostrich. He knew that farming was not just something to do, but that it required dedication, hard work, risk, planning, budgeting, a wide variety of skills, and the need for knowledge and experience.
As we dated, got married and now run a third generation farm, I feel a need to share what my family does. I feel that a large number of people have a lack of understanding of what happens and why. I feel like conversing whether it be in text, pictures or in a "real" conversation about a variety of topics in agriculture is meaningful and re-connects people to one of our favorite things... FOOD!
I have played the cheerleader and skeptic of social media. I initially dove in with both feet, then retreated for awhile, and then started to use a variety of outlets again. Currently, I use my personal Facebook page, our Heger Farms Facebook page, Twitter, this blog, and Heger Farms website (Hegerfarms.com) which is need of updating. My husband was not always a fan either. Advocating takes time. When you take time for something, you take it away from something else. He wasn't sure advocating through social media was a needed step. We both questioned why a good old fashioned conversation was no longer "good enough". But with time and looking at some of the numbers, we decided that using social media was important to reach more people and let others see what our family and farm were about. Interestingly enough, I just received an order of office supplies and stationary. All of which have a note for people to check out our Facebook page. My husband even commented this morning, "Make sure you tell them to check out our Facebook page.", when I was writing a few letters. I do believe we have made great strides down an ever evolving road.
I have been asked when I find the time to keep each advocacy platform up-to-date. Well, I simply do what I can. I do a lot of reading on topics in the evenings. I will say that my phone and iPad are very important tools that let me "work" from all sorts of places. I sneak posts in while waiting for kids to come out from sport practices, when waiting in the field for a rider, when waiting for supper to get done or when inline. Most of the time, I post things when I have a second here or there . In general, it is when I am waiting! But because not all advocating takes place in social media, I find time to visit classrooms, talk with other kids' parents, friends and numerous others at sporting events, conferences, the park, the grocery store and simply by wearing t-shirts that share an agricultural message.
I have found that when I use social media to share and talk with people that I am often redirected to listen. Others share and post comments or their own pictures and information. With social media they are able to share articles and links. People ask questions and a wide variety of people can respond. I find that being an advocate is not about only sharing, but digesting what others are thinking and saying. I do not know nearly as much as others. I rely on my connections to enlighten me and bless me with perspective. I can then gain understanding and share even more.