Cyndi's Two Cents

Find your voice


Today’s column was written for those trying to figure out what direction to take in their post-high school life. However, if you are eighteen, thirty-eight or eighty years old, I hope you find a nugget here that applies to you:

If you are unsure about a future career path, I can promise you one thing: if you are passionate about a career in agriculture, you need to hone your skills in communications. Whether you become an ag teacher, an agronomist, a veterinarian, a sales representative, an ag lawyer, a farmer or any other of the many careers available in agriculture – you will need to be able communicate effectively.

You will need to find your voice.

Communication is the essence of human interaction and learning. It is a process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Agricultural communications is at its heart, storytelling. It is telling a story about or relevant to agriculture.

The career opportunities in agricultural communications and ag marketing are many – and we need people to fill those roles.

I hear many young people say they want to tell agriculture’s story. That is an inspiring task. We need more people doing just that. However, it is important to differentiate between being an ag influencer and being an ag journalist.

Both are ag communicators.

Some careers in agricultural communications will have you communicating with other agricultural stakeholders -people who also work in ag. Other careers opportunities will have you communicating with those not employed in agriculture and quite often, with little knowledge or understanding about what happens on a farm or in agribusiness.

The demand is great for those skilled in public relations, marketing, journalism, sales, photography, event planning, advocacy, public speaking, and more.

What do I look for when hiring someone to come to work for me?

Natural curiosity. Hunger to learn. Great listening skills. Integrity. Sound work ethic. High ethical journalistic standards. Ability to communicate professionally and effectively in writing and verbally. Ability to cultivate and maintain news sources and professional relationships.

You do not have to have an ag background to be an ag communicator, but it helps. A lot. The work ethic instilled in youth in agriculture is something that as an employer, I do not find consistently in other young people.

When asked by high school and college students what classes they should take or skills they should learn if they want to become farm broadcasters, my advice is always this: Take as many English and writing classes as you can. Polish your writing and grammar.

Avoid talking like people text. Practice spelling. Hone your listening skills. Try to stay away from that alphabet soup of acronyms. Speak clearly. Speak confidently. Get in the habit of using the correct terminology and phrasing. Find a mentor.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can offer you is to put down whatever mobile device you are reading or listening to and be a part of what is happening in the space you occupy. Interpersonal communication is healthy! Nothing compares to a face-to-face conversation.

The ag industry needs you.

Everyone has the potential to be an ag communicator. You just need to find your voice.

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