Minneapolis Corn Grower Learns to Enhance Industry Communication

Tom and Sandy Tibbits Attend NCGA Program on Social Media

Being a farmer isn’t just about raising quality food for a growing population. It’s also about being an advocate and a positive voice for the production agriculture way of life.

Tom and Sandy Tibbits are corn growers near Minneapolis. Tom is a veteran at social media and posts a blog at http://farmertimes.blogspot.com/. He is also active on Twitter at twitter.com/ksfarmboy.  Last week the Tibbits began training as members of the DuPont New Leaders program, a unique class of 17 farm couples and individuals selected by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

The program is sponsored by DuPont and its first class met last week in Des Moines, Iowa for communications and social media training. The group was formed to help farmers tell their non-farm friends where food comes from and what farming is about.

The Tibbits have long realized the importance of being communicators and leaders in addition to farmers as Tom has managed his agriculture blog and Tweets since 2008. Some of their family farm topics have included grain bin safety, harvest updates, weather-damaged crop fields, jack rabbits and the state of rural America. The Tibbits also volunteer at Agriland, the popular, educational, ag exhibit at the Kansas State Fair.

Tom started blogging, he said, because he had hosted tour groups at his farm and noticed visitors were very interested in he and Sandy’s work.

“I thought ‘How can I tell the public what I do and let them see my role through my eyes,’” Tibbits said. “I started out blogging then stumbled upon Twitter as another extension of social media to share my ideas with the world.”

Tom is a third-generation farmer raising wheat, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and oil type sunflowers in north central Kansas. He and Sandy have three young children. Tom also serves on the board of the Kansas Corn Growers Association.

The DuPont New Leaders program will continue with specific “intersession” communications and leadership programs for its participants in the coming months, finalized with a July session in Washington, D.C.

The Tibbits said being part of the program means a lot to them because they are involved with a great group of people. The instructors, he adds, work very hard to bring the farm families out of their comfort zone and expand their ideas on how to communicate.

“There are pretty vast differences in our group because we all have different farm backgrounds,” he said. “It’s also intense to work through exercises to bring us out of our comfort zone. Being able to coordinate thoughts and ideas then share them with the outside world is really important. We should all take a few minutes each day to get on Facebook, blog or Tweet and offer a bite-size piece of what we do.”