Another school year is drawing to an end and with it, I have a certain sense of marvel and mixed regret when I look at my beautiful 12-year-old daughter. Marvel that she’s grown two inches (her legs and her feet!) in the past year, and regret--that our one-on-one talks get fewer and fewer the faster she grows.

Driving back from a hometown Memorial Day visit, I decided to take advantage of the ‘alone time’ and start one of those ‘one on one’ conversations. I asked about the past school year, approaching summer camps and ‘Middle School Years’.

She talked about her ‘loves’ (reading) and things she doesn’t want to repeat (swimming). I couldn’t understand her interest in swimming and oceans and all things related to water---but her disdain for competitive swimming events. She hated all the practices to be sure, but the final blow came with piercing logic, “It’s not like I’m going to do that for a living, Mom.” Umphf.

Where, along the way, have our children learned that unless they can make a living out of it, they shouldn’t try? What is so terrifying about trying something and (maybe) failing, but (certainly) feeling pride for at least having tried? Have we educated, drilled, squeezed the fun right out of them by the time they’re 12? I’m not the only one saying that; check this out:

Sir Ken Robinson relates a story about how a young girl in an art class was frantically drawing on her paper oblivious to the ‘assignment’ when the teacher finally asked what she was drawing. She replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” ‘Sweetie,’ said the teacher in her most-patient indoor voice, ‘no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, the little girl said, “They will when I’m done!” 

Whether your child possesses a kind of creative genius, the competitive spirit or not, the point is, there is always something to be gained by trying. Same goes for you, too; whether you happen to be a farmer who wonders why you don’t read more stories about modern agriculture in today’s newspapers, or a shopper who wonders what the difference REALLY is between organic and regular milk (besides the price). Ask yourself; have you told your story lately? Have you tried to make a connection with someone at the grocery store who has never been on the farm? Why not? After all—farming is how you make a living. You feed (according to latest USDA statistics) 144 people today; (versus 25 people in 1960). Sure, you may not be the slick, sound-byte-spewing, spotlight-grabbing media darling Wayne Pacelle of HSUS, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off.

Consumers are hungry for credible, easy-to-understand information from ‘real deal’ farmers—not the politicians, activists or Pacelles of the world. Remember—credibility can’t be bought. So pick up a pen, pick up a phone; blog it, ‘Tweet’ it, sign up for Facebook and ‘share’. What are you afraid of? You know that old saying, “if you don’t tell your story—someone else will.” Look for opportunities to share your story in those on-on-one chats at church, the grocery store, your child’s school or your softball game, (hey—I have it on good authority you’ll have plenty of chances there—the season goes on forever!). Who knows; you might even have fun in the process.

Written by Laurie Johns
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.