Topic #1: Agricultural Advocacy
Today’s consumer wants to know more about where their food comes from, but they aren’t getting their information from farmers and ranchers; they are getting their information from the loud voices of animal welfare activists, environmentalist zealots, biased media reporters, healthcare practitioners with plant-based agendas and celebrity influencers.
Focusing on consumer trends, my speech deep-dives into what these voices are saying about us and how we can respond as producers to protect our freedoms to farm and our freedom of choice at the grocery store.
What’s more, I discuss the regulatory pressures, the increasing demands from retailers and the myths that perpetuate these ongoing external challenges that aim to stifle producers and eliminate our industry, one family farm at a time.
I aim to motivate and inspire listeners, as well as give them the tools they need to succeed along the way. We have some laughs while covering some serious topics, as well. This is my most popular messaging request at agricultural events.
Topic #2: Dynamics of Multi-Generational Family Agricultural Businesses
When I returned back to the family ranch after college, I had a lot of big ideas for change! Imagine my frustration when my relentless pursuit for “doing things better” was met with skepticism and push-back from my parents. After all, they had been in the business for decades, and here I was a young kid fresh out of school who thought I could sweep in and change things up without first having some serious skin in the game.
If you work alongside family in your agricultural business, surely you can relate. The way we communicate as Millennial producers to our Baby Boomer parents isn’t always effective, and visa versa.
In addition, when you start adding in-laws, spouses and sibling dynamics to the big picture, it can be a huge challenge to keep the business running and to maintain the familial relationships at the same time!
That’s where I come in. As a fifth generation rancher raising the six-generation on our family operation, I’ve experienced the same challenges so many others have in agriculture. The message of this speaking topic focuses on clearly communicating with family members by understanding personality differences, age gaps and when/where/what should be discussed at family business meetings.
This speech is deeply personal, and often a heavy topic, but it comes from the heart, as well. It’s relatable, and I’ve had groups both laughing and crying throughout the presentation. Working alongside family can be a true blessing, but it can also be a curse. By sharing specific examples of success stories and of extreme failures, my aim of this speech is to help farming families stay in business, avoid pitfalls and love each other through good times and bad.
Topic #3: Classroom Visits
If I’m coming to your upcoming meeting, why not coordinate a classroom visit while I’m there? This is a nice add-on that helps me practice what I preach. We need to share our agricultural stories with our consumers, and kids are a great place to start! Young people, in particular, need to hear about what farming and ranching is really like, to balance out some of the nonsense about agriculture they see on Disney movies!
With my book, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” (plus one more set to release in March 2019), I love getting into schools and sharing my agricultural story with students.
High school and college students face so much pressure today -- filling out scholarship applications, participating in an abundance of extracurricular activities and deciding at a young age what they want to study and be when they grow up.
Decades of Speaking Experience
I gave my first speech in a 4-H contest at just eight-years old. The speech was titled, “What is a Limousin?” and detailed the history and benefits of the breed of cattle my family raised on our ranch in South Dakota. On the day of the speech, my mom asked me, “Are you nervous?” And I replied, “No, Mom. Should I be?” The speech earned me a purple ribbon, and from that day on, I was hooked with sharing information with people in a public platform.
I went on to speak competitively in 4-H and FFA through my high school years, always focusing on agricultural topics in every presentation. As a senior in high school, I capped off my youth speaking career in 2006, winning both the National Beef Ambassador contest (speaking about beef by-products) and the National FFA Extemporaneous contest (speaking about beef safety after the first BSE case hit the United States).
These two victories were the catalyst for my adult speaking career. While attending college, I began traveling to speak to agricultural groups across the country. Word-of-mouth helped get me gigs, and overtime, I developed my core messaging that I wanted farmers and ranchers to hear.
Thirteen years later, I have traveled extensively spreading my message to cattlemen’s groups, women in agriculture events, young producer meetings and more. While my heart and soul is in the beef industry, my messaging is applicable to anyone who raises any type of livestock, crops, timber or energy. If you utilize natural resources to provide food, fiber or other goods for consumers, my story is for you.