Farmers and agricultural employees who recently attended the educational media workshops agree the Engage concept and experience were valuable and not something they will soon forget.

Hosted by the Texas Corn Producers (TCP) and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas, participants attended a one-day Engage media training course in either Ft. Worth or Lubbock. The participants were chosen for their leadership roles and ability to help grow public support and understanding for agriculture and conservation.

This vital educational effort was designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills needed to become more effective communicators and spokespersons on behalf of Texas agriculture and conservation. The Center for Food Integrity provided the Engage training sessions focused on the power of shared values and values-based messaging.  During the workshops, participants learned how to prepare talking points from preselected interview questions and experience a mock interview. These training exercises built upon each other and were essential to successfully conducting their final on-camera experience.

Susie Spurlock, a farmer from Sherman County, near Stratford said, “We must connect with and inform people who live and work in cities and suburbs to help them understand we all have a common interest in public policies supportive of agriculture. This opportunity can help all farmers, ranchers and others associated with agriculture to have a voice.”

Susie and her husband, Wesley, and daughter-in-law, Nicole, attended the Lubbock session. Like most farmers, the Spurlocks know it is vital for our country to maintain the capacity to produce an abundant, stable and affordable supply of food while taking care of the land and its resources.

Many Americans aren’t aware of what it takes to be a successful agricultural producer, such as the costs and risks involved in sustaining successful farming and ranching operations in today’s economic and regulatory climate. The farmers and other individuals participating in these workshops know the value and needs to take on the challenges of advocating for agriculture. They also now have new skills to utilize as they take the message of Texas agriculture and conservation forward to urban audiences.

NRCS Resource Team Leader Michael Willson of Snyder said he had preconceived ideas about the benefits of doing mock interviews before going into the workshop, however, at the end of the day Willson said:.  “I didn’t particularly like doing it, but I benefited from the discussion and critiques following the interview.”

Angie Martin, TCP coordinator of industry relations staff said, “This was a good  opportunity for me and I can always learn new tips. I plan on using what I learned, and I would recommend it for others.”