Tips on becoming an effective ag-vocate

Everyone who has an animal science project is involved in the agriculture industry. Check out these tips on how to become an effective ag-vocate.

Each year, thousands of youth from all parts of Michigan participate in an animal science project and learn about the multiple aspects of animal husbandry. However, one area that is sometimes forgotten is the role youth play in the agriculture industry with their project. Yes, you are a key piece of the agriculture industry; a large part of your project is to communicate to others about your experience.

The most natural place to educate others about animal husbandry and the agriculture industry is the local fair; however, you have the opportunity every day to share your project. Cloverbud-aged youth could perhaps share during their school’s “show and tell” time or talk to a friend who doesn’t have the opportunity to have animals. Older 4-H members can and should talk about the animal agriculture industry every chance they get in a positive way. This could be talking at a local rotary club meeting, visiting with a county commissioner, completing a school project or giving information to local media outlets about the benefits of animal agriculture and 4-H. The opportunities are endless!

Michigan State University Extension has the following tips for becoming an awesome ag-vocate:

  • Get the facts. Make sure you have facts from credible sources to share. Extension services and universities all across the country have conducted non-biased research in the field of animal science. Being able to cite credible sources will make you more credible when you talk to people. Don’t forget to look to your local 4-H program coordinator, 4-H leader or another producer to help you find information too.
  • Speak with confidence and passion. You obviously have a passion about animal agriculture, otherwise you wouldn’t be involved in your 4-H project! Use that passion to communicate your position on topics related to animal agriculture.
  • Develop a few key points. It is helpful to write down your key points on an issue so that you can be consistent when you communicate among different groups of people. Key points will help you be able to focus on your message, and after some practice will be easy to remember.
  • Be respectful. Remember that not all people are armed with research-based information and may not share the same views with you related to animal agriculture. A good rule to live by is to always be respectful, even if you do not agree. Never sink to name-calling, insults or making any other disparaging remarks. Always be positive and convey facts in a manner that reflect the values of the animal agriculture industry.
  • Thank the group or individual for their time. After you have shared your message, it is a good habit to extend your thanks to those who took the time to listen and discuss agriculture with you. If appropriate and easy to do, shake hands with those folks too – a small gesture that may go a long ways.

With these tips, you can become a powerful voice for agriculture in your community!

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