The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2016 provided input into proposed changes for the farm and agriculture exhibit at Chicago’s world-famous Museum of Science and Industry. The tour and discussion session was part of a three-day Media Relations Seminar held in July.
After touring the “Farm Tech” exhibit, class members met with Kurt Haunfelner, Vice President of Exhibits and Collections, and Dr. Patricia Ward, Director, Science Exhibitions and Partnerships, to exchange ideas on updating and telling the story of modern agriculture. Class members emphasized the importance of updating the technical aspects of farming that allow for improving environmental conservation, while showing the multi-generational nature of family farming and the need to feed more people in the world.
The seminar began at the offices of Potash Corporation in Northbrook. Judy Ungar Franks, Lecturer, Medill IMC, Northwestern University, spoke about “The Changing Media Landscape” and how social media and traditional media are used together to inform and entertain. Charlie Meyerson, Vice President of News for Rivet Radio, demonstrated one of the changes in media by showcasing Rivet Radio. Rivet is an Internet radio news application and platform delivering personalized news and information. During the discussion, Meyerson sent live video of the class to several of his colleagues whom he alerted through Twitter of the pending videocast. Dr. Robert Mullen, Director of Agronomy for PotashCorp, discussed the importance of communicating critical agricultural issues to consumers.
Learning how the public engages with agriculture was a key lesson as the class toured Wagner Farm in Glenview. The 18-acre working farm is part of the Glenview Park District, and is the only connection to agriculture for most of its 130,000 annual visitors. The farm director is Todd Price, a graduate of the IALP Class of 2014.
The class worked an entire day of the seminar at Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue. Michael Turley, CEO of the public relations firm OsbornBarr, discussed the importance of communicating shared values and developing effective messages. Two OsbornBarr staff members, Kelly Reilly and Laura Smith, then worked with the class to develop those messages.
Legendary agribusiness broadcaster and IALF Board Member Emeritus Orion Samuelson from WGN Radio and This Week in Agribusiness interviewed each class member. The interviews were replayed and critiqued by the class.
The second day of the seminar ended with a tour and reception at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago. The house serves as a home for families of critically ill children being treated at Chicago-area hospitals. More than 800 people serve as volunteers to care for the residents and facility.
On the final day of the seminar, the Class of 2016 was briefed on the Farm Illinois project. The Food and Agriculture RoadMap for Illinois (FARM Illinois) was established in 2014 to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to enable Illinois and the Chicago region to become the leading global hub for food and agriculture system innovation. The briefing was held at Resolute Consulting, where staff there also provided an overview of services provided by a communications outreach firm.
“This was an outstanding seminar for our leadership class,” said Don Norton, President & CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation. “We appreciate the Museum of Science and Industry for allowing us to provide input and begin the dialog for their display on farm technology. Our presenters gave us an excellent overview of working within the changing media landscape of the 21st Century.”