It might sound like an odd connection, but farmers and NFPW members do share similarities.
Yes, there are members from rural areas and even states where agriculture is, by far, the number one industry. Several of us have ag communications-related jobs at newspapers, other businesses, universities and in government.
And, although it is not acknowledged nearly enough in my opinion, if you eat food, you are beholding to farmers and ranchers.
The connection that isn’t so obvious is that farmers and NFPW members are optimists.
Why else would farmers who had their crops wiped out by natural disasters in 2014, plant seeds again in 2015? With the costs of production higher than the market price for corn, why are Nebraska farmers rushing to get seeds in the ground this spring planting season?
It only recently occurred to me that the giant statue of “The Sower” on top of the Nebraska capitol in Lincoln is more than a symbol of our agricultural roots. It also represents the optimistic pioneer spirit still reflected by our modern farmers each spring.
They plant seeds because they believe Mother Nature will be kinder to them. They hope that prices will improve later, at least to a level good enough to make it economically possible to plant again in 2016.
I’m sure there are tractors in many Nebraska fields this Sunday morning as farmers rush to get work done ahead of a forecast for a rainy week ahead. It’s a double-edge sword. You never speak ill of rain during growing season, but if it could wait just a week or two longer, all the corn seeds would be in the ground.
Then the farmers move on to soybeans.
The same optimism for the future of NFPW and our affiliates is obvious every time we approve a budget and schedule future conferences. Why would we set conferences years in advance if we didn’t believe we would be a viable organization with members who would attend?
In the meantime, we plant seeds by inviting other professional communicators to join us, enter the professional contest, learn from the conference workshops and build networks with other members.
The plantings also include encouraging high school students to enter their contest and offering to mentor youths who think they might be journalists, public relations specialists or communications educators in the future.
They will need nurturing, of course, just like a farmer’s crops. The rewards are watching them grow, and seeing a harvest in the months and years to come.
So, plant a few seeds along your way for your profession, your affiliate and NFPW.