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Make this your summer of yes on the farm

Ashley Messing-Kennedy for Progressive Dairyman Published on 08 April 2019

A little over a week ago, our farm welcomed a TV crew onto the farm. We have had film crews on the farm, but filming a show for a national network is a whole new beast. The entire experience is intense and goes quickly. There are also a lot of people involved in filming a show.

When I was talking to another farmer about it, they mentioned how the film crew “just doesn’t get it.” I nodded in agreement and said, “They really don’t – just like I don’t understand how to film a TV show or engineer a car.” Even though we don’t understand each other’s careers, we are in the unique position of affecting lots of people’s lives daily. That’s why I will always welcome a television show onto the farm. If we can make it work, I will always say yes. I hope this summer will begin your season of yes.

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You do not have to say yes to a television crew like us, but saying yes to an elementary class for a field trip is so much fun and not as hard as it might seem. Having a newspaper reporter out on the farm doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Trust me, practice makes perfect, and you can make such a difference in many lives. You might be the only farmer a person will ever meet. I’m not sure about you, but that seems huge to me, and I want to make it a good experience.

Here are my best quick tips for having a successful farm tour:

  1. Save the calves for last. Trust me, if you start there, no one will want to leave there. So I try to finish there when I can.
  2. Ask for help. Your local checkoff is there for resources. I call and talk to the people at our Michigan organization all the time. They are a really valuable resource for tips, talking points, moral support or giveaways.
  3. Most of the people who visit are not trying to trip you up, so stop assuming they are. In my experience, people who visit are genuinely curious and not trying to trip you up. They just want to know what you do.

I hope reading this will ease some of your anxiety about hosting people on your farm. It is not nearly as scary as you think, and the more you do it, the more you feel comfortable with it. A handshake and personal tour are things that cannot be replaced in the mind of someone who has never been on a farm. Sharing your joy and passion could completely change the opinion of someone who just isn’t sure about dairy farmers anymore.  end mark

Ashley Messing-Kennedy

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