Have you ever read or heard something online, in a magazine or newspaper or on TV that was so far from the truth, it just made you shake your head and wonder where the information was obtained? Unfortunately, I have and it literally drives me crazy that people would report false information. There is a lot of misinformation about agriculture circulating around and consumers are eating it up. This is not good for the agriculture community.
Public speaking has never been my thing. I have always feared being judged or ridiculed for something that I said. It takes a lot of courage. However, one day I concluded that I cannot sit back and let others give agriculture a bad reputation, so I needed to do something to get the right messages out there. I did some research on how to express yourself and share your story, because the last thing you want to do is reply or respond in a way that isn’t polite. You want people to listen. So be truthful, be yourself, don’t overthink it, be positive (I know it can be hard sometimes) and most importantly know your audience. I still am no public speaker, and I don’t really care to be. But, I am someone who shares my story with as many people as I can. Why? Because I want them to know what really happens on my dairy farm versus what an activist group might show them.
I was recently contacted by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau office and asked if I would allow a reporter to come to the farm during the Polar Vortex to document what it is like for farmers out there in these brutally cold temperatures. I was nervous as so many questions flooded into my mind. What if something I say is misrepresented? What if they spin it and get it all wrong? I don’t like the spotlight and as I mentioned before I don’t enjoy public speaking, but my husband, Ryan, and I decided we should participate.
I’m glad I said yes, because the reporter ended up being from California, spending her first winter here in Wisconsin. She was not dressed to be outside at -29° and the camera froze up, so you know, she got all the feels. What intrigued me the most was that she didn’t have much background knowledge about dairy farming. One of the questions that she asked me was, “Can you can really milk the cows in this weather, the milk doesn’t freeze in their udders or right as it comes out?”
You can check out the story here.
This was the moment I knew I had made the right choice! This is the stuff I eat up – I love talking about my farm and how we care for our cows. After spending the afternoon talking, we made a great connection and I invited her to message anytime she needs farming information because I know a lot of great people in the industry. I invited her back to the farm, in warmer weather, and will gladly help her learn more.
I am very active on social media and like to share happenings, pictures and facts from the farm. Since becoming a Farm Bureau member, I have had the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and feel very confident in my ability to talk about the industry I love. Through the Ag in the Classroom program I have had many opportunities to visit schools and talk to them about Wisconsin agriculture.
So, if you answered yes to my initial question in the first paragraph, What are you going to do about it?
I have an idea! National Ag Day is coming up on March 14. I encourage you to share your story. It can be online, a blog, or to a group of students. Wisconsin Farm Bureau is hosting several activities that will help you share positive messages about agriculture so be sure to check those out.
Krista Dolan is a dairy farmer from Dodgeville. She and her husband Ryan co-own Dolan Farms, LLC with Ryan’s parents. They have two sons Kaleb and Gage. Krista also serves as the Iowa County Farm Bureau president.