Blog Update
 collaboration
In her high school advanced placement (AP) biology class, Tara Mittelberg learned about Norman Borlaug, the renowned scientist, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted his career to battling hunger and poverty across the globe. This sparked her interest in agriculture and prompted her to pursue the opportunity to be an Emerging Leader in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge during the 2014–2015 academic year.
Blog Update
 collaboration
As I sit down to write this farewell blog, I feel overwhelmed with emotion because of the amazing experiences the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge has given us 10 Emerging Leaders. However, this blog isn’t meant to dwell on our farewell, but rather to highlight the learning experiences we encountered.

Planet Forward: The Importance of Storytelling

Posted by Sierra Williamson, Mon, April 23

Regeneration, sustainability and conservation seem to be buzzwords in today’s society. And while they can’t be separated from agriculture, the disconnect between consumers and farmers is in some ways too wide. The solution to deepening understanding is storytelling.

 

The Planet Forward Summit is a conference held once a year at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the summit is to gather young communicators from around the nation to demonstrate effective ways of telling a story through a series of speakers and panels. Whether it be production agriculture, climate change, food insecurity solutions or water conservation, it has never been more important to make people care about where their food comes from.

 

Leaders in storytelling

Climate change, biodiversity and sustainable production practices were the focal points when we, the Emerging Leaders, listened to panels and speakers talk about their leadership efforts in sustainability. High-impact leaders told us about their sustainability efforts during a session with a panel that included Dr. Felecia Nave, director for faculty development & engagement and chemical engineering professor at Prairie View A&M University; Roric Paulman, farmer from Nebraska; Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.; Beth Stewart, creative director at Discovery, Inc.; and Chris Mooney, reporter at The Washington Post. The diversity of viewpoints on this panel offered a variety of innovative ways to improve our planet.

 

Chris Policinski discussed how Land O’Lakes is taking sustainability seriously by implementing a new business unit called SUSTAIN to lead on-farm and company-led sustainability efforts. From a media standpoint, Beth Stewart talked about the importance of communicating the environmental issues to the public in their stories at Discovery, Inc. Roric Paulman provided a boots-on-the-ground perspective and shared his on-farm sustainability measures, which include regulating irrigation and reducing tillage to help preserve resources and avoid erosion. Each of these leaders had a unique point of view that inspired me to evaluate how I can use storytelling to emphasize sustainability efforts in driving change.

 

Setting our sights forward

As an optimistic agriculturalist, I truly believe that there is no better time to be involved with agriculture. We have a growing population that is increasing the demand for food with pressing environmental challenges. Planet Forward has taught me that it has never been more important to tell the story of how production agriculture is addressing environmental challenges with ambitious attitudes.

 

Chris Policinski put it best when he said, “Our farmers are producing more with less: less land, less water, less feed.”

 

We should be enthusiastic about telling our story of meeting food demands while addressing environmental challenges. Many times, difficult issues can be resolved with communication, especially in the case of bridging the disconnect between consumers and farmers. So I challenge you to take a chance. Tell your story through your lens, the way you see it. Together, with a combination of innovative ideas and storytelling, we can feed the world and move our Planet Forward.


 

“Compelling characters overcoming obstacles to achieve an outcome…”

– Frank Sesno, Founder and Chief Executive at Planet Forward

 

 

Sierra Williamson Bio: Sierra Williamson grew up in southern Minnesota, where she learned the core values of agriculture beginning at a young age. She currently attends the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and is studying agricultural and food business management and minoring in agronomy and marketing. Follow her on Twitter @sierraw33 and Instagram @williamson.sierra.