Board Rooms and Tractor Seats


Like most kids growing up I always loved to dream and talk about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  For me there was never any question, I was going to be a farmer.  I have always wanted that. I lived in a rural area; even so I was the only kid in my class that actually grew up on a farm and wished to return back to the farm after college.  Whenever I had a chance, I found others that were interested in agriculture, that was the reason why FFA was one of my favorite classes. Yes, I admit it, I was the class AgNerd.

After college my dreams finally came true, I returned home to become the fifth generation to work our family’s farm.  Even then the AgNerd in me lived on as I loved to stop and the end of the driveway and talk to neighbors about daily farm life.  My passion for agriculture was soon recognized and I was asked to run for the county Farm Bureau board.   During my terms on the board, I learned to network with other farmers in the county, state, and country and, like every other Farm Bureau volunteer, helped to develop the policies that govern the organization.  It was a great experience that I enjoyed and learned a lot from, but after six years I termed out and it was time for fresh blood to take my spot.

Still destined to be an AgNerd, I turned to something they called the “World Wide Web” to share with others who I could not meet at the end of my driveway for a brief update on what was happening in the world of agriculture.  I found Twitter was a great way to do this as messages had to be kept to under 140 characters, thus I could just excuse my poor grammar and spelling as a way to shorten a sentence ;).   I soon developed a nice network of friends both on and off the farm that loved to hear and talk about daily farm life. 

It wasn’t long before I began to meet other farmers that were AgNerds just like me, we even created a name for ourselves, “Agvocates” (agriculture + advocate).  I began to have conversations with California dairy farmer Ray Prock Twitter, Blog, Kansas grain farmer Darin Grimm Twitter, Blog, and California rancher Jeff Fowle Twitter, Blog about different ways that we could encourage more farmer’s ways to use this internet thingy in conjunction with their daily farm life to help answer some of the concerns about today’s agriculture.  After reaching out to a few others online we soon realized that we were not alone in our thinking and we joined several friends including the creator of the weekly twitter #AgChat, Michelle Payn-Knoper  Twitter, Blog who were considering similar ideas.  Several of us decided to our heads together and soon the AgChat Foundation was born!

Some of the great friends I made through the AgChat FoundationOver the past year, it has been fun to watch the foundation grow. It became normal to be in a board meeting while I was sitting in my tractor seat planting a hay field, another would be in the meeting while he was checking his irrigation, another setting precision maps and yet another while milking cows.  With the advancement of 4g, Google+ and other tools provided by the internet, it will not be long before these monthly board meetings can take place over video conferencing, even in the middle of a 100 acre corn field!  I will say some of the friendships and memories I have made online and through the AgChat Foundation are some of the best I have ever had, and I am sure they will only grow in time.

Like my time on the Farm Bureau Board, good things must come to an end.  My time serving on the AgChat Board has come to an end as its time to allow new life on the board for newer and greater ideas.  I wish the best to this great community, it has been a big part of my life over the past two years and I will miss several of the daily interactions that always kept me on my toes. And I will continue to participate in some of the community's efforts, including the upcoming training in Nashville.

So what does this mean for me and the next phase of my life? Well I am still destined to be a farmer when I grow up (if that ever happens), but I also know that I also want to be an agvocate as well.  I am just looking for the next opportunity. Please stay tuned, as I am sure bigger and better things will develop.





About Mike Haley

Mike Haley is the 5th generation to farm their family farm in Ohio. Currently he farms alongside his father Steve and wife Pam. On their farm they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and purebred Simmental cattle.
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