I’m proud to be a small-town girl. I live in a town with zero stoplights where everyone knows their neighbors and Friday nights are meant for fish fries. Living in a small town like Cadott, the opportunity to connect with a television celebrity is pretty much slim to none. Little did I know I would get to not only do just that, but also share my love of agriculture in the process.
Living in a small town like Cadott, the opportunity to connect with a television celebrity is pretty much slim to none. Little did I know I would get to not only do just that, but also share my love of agriculture in the process.
As the district 4 coordinator, I spent a fair amount of time behind the wheel in a given month. I work with six counties in Western Wisconsin, attending their monthly meetings and special events as they arise. To pass the time behind the windshield, I’ve grown to enjoy taking in a number of podcasts to keep me entertained, educated and, in the late evenings, wide awake.
The podcasts I listen to encompass a wide variety of interests including agriculture, leadership, politics and pop culture. Several years ago, I stumbled across a podcast called Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe. Bristowe is the former lead on The Bachelorette. If you recognize her name, it may be because she was also the runner-up contestant on Iowa farmer, Chris Soules’, season of The Bachelor the year prior.
Bristowe’s podcast is geared towards women and features guest experts on topics such as fitness, health, skincare and mental health, just to name a few. While I would venture to guess her primary audience is largely urban, I have found myself looking forward to her weekly segments.
Off the Vine recently started a new segment on Friday’s called Drunk Dial, where Bristowe calls listeners who have questions for the host. On a social media post recently, I submitted a question to Bristowe, assuming that, at best, she would read and answer the question on a future episode.
You can imagine my surprise when I received an email from Bristowe’s agent asking if I was available for a phone call. As I patiently waited for the phone to ring, I mentally prepared myself to tell a joke or embarrassing story on the air.
When the phone rang, I picked up to Bristowe’s greeting: “Is this Cassie… Cassie Olson?”
Our conversation began, and as we chatted, I made mention that I work with farmers. What Bristowe asked next was completely unexpected but entirely appreciated.
“What are your thoughts about documentaries that say ‘dairy is scary’ or negative things about farms?”
I thought to myself, “Is this real life right now?”
As I gathered my thoughts, I answered open and honestly. I suggested that listeners speak with farmers about concerns about their food and to do their research before taking a claim about agriculture as fact. Bristowe shared that she appreciated my answer and that she would be interested in having a farmer on her podcast.
That was it. A short, three-minute exchange was my chance to advocate. Bristowe captivates an audience of thousands on a weekly basis, and while I do not know the number of people who tuned into the podcast I was featured on, it is safe to say that it was received by a crowd of largely urban listeners.
We all have our “tribes”. Collectively, we share a tie of agriculture, but think of the groups that you are connected or belong to that include non-farmers; maybe it is your church, a sports team, a club or your child’s school. Maybe you or your spouse work off the farm in an unrelated industry or are a frequent flyer on a major airline. These “tribes” or these people we interact with all offer us the chance to tell the story of agriculture, oftentimes in unexpected ways.
These “tribes” or these people we interact with all offer us the chance to tell the story of agriculture, oftentimes in unexpected ways.
As farmers and agriculturists, it is easy to preach to the choir. It is easy to share our message amongst like-minded peers, but it is when we go beyond our borders and speak out in a diverse crowd that our message can be truly received.
These opportunities do not always come our way by chance; sometimes we have to look for them. If you overhear a comment in the grocery store about your favorite food product, do not be scared to join the conversation. If you’re in a meeting or sitting on plane, take the chance to talk about your farm. If you have the chance to call in to a radio show or podcast, tell them that you work in agriculture. Consumers have valid questions and valid concerns, but we can never truly answer them unless we let it be known who we are, what we do and how we do it.
They say that “opportunity knocks”; sometimes, however, we need to knock down the door.
You can listen to Cassie’s segment of the Off the Vine podcast here.
Cassie Olson serves as the District 4 Coordinator for Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. She works with members in Eau Claire, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Monroe, Monroe and La Crosse counties. Cassie enjoys writing about agricultural topics and photography.