AAW celebrates ag year-round
Raising agriculture awareness can be daunting, but American Agri-Women (AAW) is trying to make ag advocacy easier for everyone.
Doris Mold, AAW president, says Ag Day 365 was created to help connect agriculturalists with consumers and celebrate agriculture for more than one day of the year.
“AAW wants people to know everyone is involved in agriculture every day, and people need to advocate for agriculture,” says Mold.
Anyone can be a part of Ag Day 365 because it’s really easy, according to Mold.
“Getting involved in Ag Day 365 is something anyone and everyone can do,” she states, adding it is imperative for people involved in ag to advocate for the industry.
Simply talking to someone in the checkout line or at the gas station is one way for anybody to advocate for agriculture.
“Hosting events where people can learn more about agriculture and the connection between consumers and the industry is another option,” says Mold.
Social media is the easiest way for most people to positively start conversations about agriculture and why it’s important, she adds.
“I think part of the issue is people in ag often complain about the public not understanding their message, but the general public doesn’t have the same appreciation for ag as those involved do,” comments Mold.
Agriculturalists need to approach the situation with the mindset of trying to help consumers understand who producers are and what they do to try to break down barriers, she says.
“The best way to seize advocacy opportunities is for those directly involved in agriculture to have conversations and do their part in educating the consumer,” she explains.
The conversation about agriculture, food, fiber and fuel has become emotional, and there are myths that affect consumer impressions about the agriculture industry, Mold says.
“Consumers are often times listening to people who are not involved in agriculture, who have an agenda and try to sway opinions about the industry,” she adds.
The public’s impressions about agriculture impacts how producers can conduct their lives and businesses, and the best defense is talking to consumers, Mold believes.
“We have to help people understand agriculture’s intentions without making people feel foolish, and in the end, everyone will benefit,” she comments.
AAW constantly tries to involve members with consumers and wants other agriculturalists to step up and participate, as well, says Mold.
“Everyone engages differently with consumers, and AAW wants people to put forth a positive effort to help,” she adds.
On their part, AAW has done something every day of the year to reach out to consumers about agriculture. AAW developed the idea to reach out every day for a year at the annual meeting in November 2016.
“This goal is quite the challenge for a volunteer organization, but AAW still plans to reach out for 365 days straight,” Mold states.
AAW hosted an event at National Ag Day for young agriculture advocates to share the importance of advocacy.
Following the event, AAW organized the “Gen Z Speaks Ag” contest, inviting people to submit photos and videos, create advocacy events and develop pollination activities to help promote agriculture.
“There were some terrific entries. The ‘Gen Z Speaks Ag’ contest is just one way people are doing their part to advocate for agriculture,” Mold comments.
AAW also participates in events across the nation through affiliated chapters, promoting Ag Day 365 at state fairs, festivals and conventions, she adds.
“At the 2017 National FFA Convention, AAW is excited to announce a new challenge,” Mold says, adding AAW continues to partner with other events around the U.S.
Some affiliates have held harvest dinners using the Ag Day 365 theme, she continues.
Plenty of AAW members are working on setting up pollinator gardens with FFA and 4-H groups, as well.
“Every affiliate has their own take on Ag Day 365 and does their own thing,” Mold comments.
AAW is also working with Bayer to train members who will teach other members different ways to advocate for agriculture.
In the future, AAW is looking forward to expanding their platform and network to reach more people.
“It’s going to take all of us to advocate for agriculture, so AAW encourages everyone to get involved, no matter what,” Mold concludes.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org