His intellect and quiet intensity positively jumped out of the camera lens the first time I interviewed Dr. Scott Hurd. But, I think it was his enthusiasm that threaded its way through every sound-byte, every sentence, every column or social media posting he wrote, which set him apart from the rest.
When Dr. Hurd passed recently, he left a void in a number of areas; the noted veterinarian, epidemiologist, teacher and speaker did hundreds of interviews on national and international media outlets to "set the record straight" and bring common sense and calm to an anxious, out-of-touch and often fearful public.
His specialty was talking about antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic resistance, and he was never afraid of the pointed questions, tough interviews or critics. His patient nature and science knowledge not only silenced the critics, it won him praise and coverage on such high-profile outlets as the Dr. Oz Show, Huffington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), Wall Street Journal, Des Moines Register and countless other newspaper, television and radio shows. His brilliance centered on his ability to boil complicated subject matter and pages of research into easily-understandable 20-second sound bites. He could explain things so well, it made critics or fear-mongers look uninformed, hysterical, or just plain stupid.
Dr. Hurd did it because he had passion. He had a passion to share agriculture’s side of the story. That’s why he took on the tough interviews, kept his cool, did his homework, kept his answers short and to the point and willingly put himself out there.
But, perhaps Dr. Hurd’s true brilliance was his laser-focus on the most important recipient of the message. You see, it was never about sitting across from Dr. Oz, Arriana Huffington or Dan Charles from NPR that was the "big deal"; it was their audiences who mattered most. He wanted the audience to understand about livestock care and food safety. Audiences are consumers; consumers who haven’t been on a farm, haven’t met a farmer, but want reassurance that the food they’re eating is safe. Period. It doesn’t take fancy sound-bytes to build trust between today’s farmers and today’s consumers. It takes transparency and a willingness to answer questions in a straight-forward, no-nonsense, passionate and interesting fashion.
Dr. Hurd did that. We can all learn from his example. You can tell your story of agriculture in any number of ways, but share it you must. Dr. Hurd would be proud to have another voice of reason like yours setting the record straight. I’d like to think that somehow, somewhere, he’s listening, with a smile. So, speak up!
By Laurie Johns. Laurie is Iowa Farm Bureau's Public Relations Manager.
Remembering Dr. Scott Hurd