Monday, January 31, 2011

PAL Portfolio

I believe anyone can be a leader and an advocate for their cause, all it takes is a willingness to step forward and speak out.  When I was first accepted into the PAL program I was very excited, but also concerned that I might be getting into more than I was capable of doing.  I thought that certainly the other participants were much more qualified than I; they must already be great leaders in their states.  When I got to New York and met the other class members for the first time I soon discovered that they were just like me.  Although we all came from different areas of the country and different farming backgrounds we all share the same passion for Agriculture and want to make a difference for our industry.  We were all nervous during our first interviews (Johnna never lets you get too comfortable).  We all had the same fear of saying or doing something stupid in front of the camera.  The more we practiced, the better we all became, and the more confident we were in our abilities.  I believe that is one of the main purposes of the PAL program, take ordinary people and help them gain confidence in their own ability to tell their story.  Whether that is in front of a TV camera, meeting with an elected official, speaking at a town hall meeting, or sharing information from you computer.  PAL helps ordinary people who have a desire to make a difference gain the confidence to do so effectively.    

So if you want to make a difference for agriculture and are willing to step forward and speak out, PAL may be a great opportunity for you.  It won’t be easy, but it will certainly force you to get out of your comfort zone, and it will help you grow in ways you never knew you could.  Let me share a few of my experiences and some of the things I learned.  

Click on any of the list items for more information.

Skills and Experience

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Leadership Defined

No two leaders are the same; everyone has their own personalities, their own strengths and weaknesses.  However, I believe that there are some important traits that help people be effective leaders.
So how do I define leadership?  Several words and phrases come to mind. 
·         Service, true leaders serve those they lead.
·         Consistent, a leader does not change their stance when a little criticism is shown, they stand true to the position they know is right, even when they stand alone.
·         Willing to make tough choices, a leader cannot pass the buck to anyone else; they must make the tough decisions.
  “We want leaders to be likeable, personable, regular people; at the same time we want them to be above reproach, better than average, and demonstrative of our high standards.”  Building an Authentic Leadership Image

Leadership Philosophy

An effective leader must be willing to make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for those decisions.  Never blame others for your bad decisions, admit when you have made a mistake. 
An effective leader must be willing to jump in and go to work, never expect others to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.
An effective leader must never compromise their values and integrity.  Always be honest and upfront with everyone.  People will not follow someone they do not trust.
An effective leader must be willing to listen to all sides of an issue before jumping to a conclusion.  “If you will listen, it is amazing how much people will tell you”, Jim Tobin. 
An effective leader looks and acts the part.  Image is very important; you must look and act professional in order to gain respect.  First impressions can be difficult to overcome, be sure to make a good first impression.
An effective leader always treats others with respect.  She/he is no better than the people they lead.
An effective leader communicates with people.  Everyone should know what is going on and why; they should feel like they are part of the team, involved in every decision that affects them.
An effective leader helps others to succeed and recognizes their contributions.  Everyone wants to feel important and will work harder when they do.
An effective leader recognizes the strengths of others and does not feel threatened by them, rather looks for ways to incorporate each person’s strengths.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shooting, Editing, and Sharing Videos

One of the first things the PAL coordinators did was to mail each of the participants a flip share video camera and have us make a short video to introduce ourselves to the class.  I have been asked to make several videos since that time for different assignments, even my kids had me help them make a couple of videos telling about our dairy.  My first video wasn’t too impressive, but with a little coaching and practice the videos have gotten easier to watch.   

A couple of the things I have learned about making videos.   
  • Shoot the clips you think you want several times and pick the best one to use, don’t just settle for the first shot. 
  • Get several different shots of the same thing: close-up, mid-range, and far away.  Multiple short clips from different angles will usually do a great job illustrating what you want the viewer to see.
  • Hold the camera steady, use a tripod if necessary.  People will not watch videos that jump all over for very long. 

This is a video I made for "Life in a Day", a documentary produced from video's all shot the same day and submitted on Youtube.

This video was put together to be shown on Food Nutrition and Science, an online publication. The video was featured in their farm tour series and is a tour of my family dairy farm.

My son Kyle (age 11) made this video entitled "Together We Can Feed the World" about our family working together on our dairy farm to produce enough milk to feed about 3500 people their 3 servings of milk each day.

My daughter Rachel (age 12) made this video entitled "Together We Can Put the Milk in Your Fridge" about all the people who work together to get the milk to the store so you can buy it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Telling my story in a way my audience will understand

My experience in New York at the First PAL Module was very eye opening and informative.   I had never been to New York or any other city that size before.  One afternoon, we rode the train from our hotel to the trade center site and arrived about 5:00 pm just as everyone was getting out of work and heading home, to see so many people from so many different backgrounds all coming and going was a very different experience for me.  I thought to myself, I wonder how many of these people have ever visited a farm?  Do they ever even think about where and how the food they eat is grown? Do they really even care?  The next thought I had was there are a lot more votes in this city than all the farmers in the country put together.  Which raises the question, how do we get our message to these people? And how do we get them to care about the American farmer?  These are a few of the questions we discussed in our PAL classes.  It is easy to tell your story to someone you know and have many things in common with, but it is quite another to tell that same story to someone who has such a very different life experience than you.  The words we use, the way we describe what we do, they don’t understand.   It is almost as if they don’t even speak the same language that we do.  We may be speaking, but they can’t understand what we are saying.   This is our challenge.  We must learn to speak in ways that they will listen to and understand, we need to help them understand why our story, the story of the American farmer, is important to them.  People are busy and don’t have time and usually won’t listen to long speeches or read long articles.  Our message must be short.  When we get the opportunity to speak about agriculture we must learn to get our point out in as few words as possible or we will loss our audience.  We must ask ourselves, who am I talking to?  How does my message relate to them?  And, what is the most important point for them to understand?

Responding to Negative Messages About Agriculture

Near the beginning of my PAL training, both Time Magazine and The New York Times ran prominent stories attacking Modern Agriculture.  I wrote a blog post responding to these articles and e-mailed it to everyone I knew.

When Nightline ran a negative story about dairies, I wrote this response and published it on the FBlog as well as my own blog.  

I have also been trying to leave comments every time I see a negative article about agriculture on line.  Often just a quick note to let people know there is another side to the story.

Communicating My Message Through Traditional Media

Often the best way to learn something is by doing it.  This was the approach to our media training.  We recorded several mock interviews and played them back to analyze how we did.  We learned:
  1. to be careful in what we said so our comments could not be edited and used against us. 
  2. Speak in clear concise "sound bite" messages.
  3. Stay on topic by using talking points.  
While all this may sound scary and difficult it is not that hard.  We just need to think about what we are saying and who we are saying it to.

Farmers and ranchers have not traditionally been good at telling our story to the public, but with the constantly increasing attacks against American agriculture we can no longer neglect to speak out, our way of life is at stake.  There is plenty of miss-information being spread about farmers today, if we don’t tell them the truth, we can’t expect them to stand up for us, either in the voting booth, or at the grocery store.   We need these people as our allies, and the only way that will happen is if we learn to effectively communicate our message to them.

Throughout the program our platform issue was Cap and Trade, the following is the statement I developed and used for the training.

I’m Garrick Hall, my wife and I and our five children own and operate a small dairy in northern Utah.  We take pride in caring for our animals and producing high quality milk.  Supporting a family on a small farm is not easy but we manage.  I want to take a minute to tell you how proposed new legislation would affect my family’s dairy farm and others like us. 

The Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, currently under consideration in the US Senate, is simply a tax on energy.  It takes a lot of energy to run our dairy farm.  It takes a lot of electricity to run the motors used to milk the cows and cool the milk. We use a lot of diesel to run the tractors used to feed and care for the animals.  It gets very cold in the winter where we live so we use natural gas to heat the barn and keep things from freezing up.  We have to pay freight costs to bring feed into the dairy and to haul milk out of the dairy.  All these costs would increase significantly if cap and trade is implemented. 

Using numbers from the Heritage Foundation, if Cap and Trade had been fully implemented in 2008, it would have cost my family over $23,000 in increased energy costs.   Roughly the cost of a brand new car for my family.  

My fear is that I will be left to pay these increased expenses, with little if any increased revenue.  Because these expenses will only be charged to US producers, they will not have a significant effect on Climate Change; however they will put American farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage in a global market.  If we increase cost to Farmers here in America without requiring the same from farmers in other countries, farm production will be driven out of the United States and food will be imported into the US.   If we are truly concerned about our “carbon footprint” this should be very concerning.  Farmers in many of the countries that will most likely replace the American farmer do not have to comply with the strict environmental regulations we impose here in the US.  Simply put US farmers can produce more pounds of food per pound of carbon emission than farmers in most foreign countries.  Forcing food production out of the US would in the end have a negative effect on carbon emissions, or increase the “carbon footprint” of the food we eat.

The bottom line is that Cap and Trade would most likely force my family along with many other livestock farmers out of business.  Much of rural America is dependent on these livestock farms.  From the purchasing of feed, supplies, labor, equipment, and much more, along with processing, hauling, and marketing of the products we produce.  There are a tremendous number of jobs and people depending on the livestock industry.  The result of Cap and Trade would be to run livestock farmers (such as myself) out of business and devastate the rural communities we support, while failing to significantly affect Climate Change.