Last summer was full of exciting opportunities for me. I began my career in agriculture with the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and I delivered a social media presentation at the 2012 National 4-H Conference in Montreal.
All of this was possible because one day, when I felt compelled to act, I did, and I did so with the use of social media.
During my final year of a social science degree in public administration and business, one of my professors showed the class a controversial food documentary. Seeing my classmates’ strong reactions to the film and knowing that the film did not represent the reality of all farms and farmers – I am a dairy farmer’s daughter – I felt compelled to speak out and share what I know about farmers in Canada. I had heard about Twitter, so I created a Twitter profile and began sending out tweets. I started by tweeting every other day about my life on the farm, my experiences with 4-H and other current topics from the media, but all mostly agricultural.
As time went by it was motivating to see my number of followers grow to 800. You never know who is going to see your tweet. I find it fun when someone replies or re-tweets one of my posts. It’s even more interesting when you recognize one of your fellow tweeps at a public event like I did at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last year! What I love most about Twitter is the ability to network with others and exchange knowledge and opinions surrounding our common interests, all in real time. Professionals and politicians are active on Twitter, so it’s neat that you can directly interact with them, unlike Facebook. Tweeting really makes me feel like I am contributing to the online conversation which exposes people to different sides of the story.
A presence on social media can open a world of opportunities. A month after I started tweeting, I received an e-mail from the human resources coordinator at DFC. They were looking for someone to work in the government relations and communications department. My Twitter profile and tweets had caught the eye of DFC and I later applied for the position. Working at DFC led to another exciting opportunity. Last September I was invited to give a presentation on behalf of DFC at the 2012 National 4-H Conference in Montreal. In it I explained that youth often don’t realize that social media is a valuable tool for sharing information, not only for chatting and posting pictures of your new haircut.
It can be a vehicle for positively promoting agriculture to the general public—especially to the younger generations who are often not familiar with what life on a farm is like or how farms operate.
As 4-Hers, regardless of whether we grew up on a farm or in the city, we are connected to agriculture and we can find connection to agriculture in any subject we are interested in, including health, poverty, economy, science or environment. Through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube we can share this connection. I followed my passion for agriculture and used social media to communicate it (and continue to do so) and the result is personal satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and exciting and valuable opportunities.
Originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of 4-H Advantage magazine.
4-H Canada is a proud partner of Agriculture More Than Ever.
Watch Avaleigh’s video below. We spoke to her in more detail about becoming an “agvocate.” Avaleigh wants farmers to share their positive agriculture stories with consumers. Farmers can use social media to show consumers behind the barn door — helping improve their understanding of agriculture.