Videos on Facebook–MCGA Agvocate reaches out to the public

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The first thing Greg Tusa, 20, did when he was selected as one of the three 2011-12 MCGA Agvocates was start a Facebook page called “Rooting For Agriculture,” and post a video of himself talking about his family farm. Now the trick will be to get anyone looking for farm information by surfing the web, using Twitter, Facebook or other social media, to find their way to his page.

Tusa looks forward to the challenge. As an MCGA Agvocate, he earns a scholarship while attending public events and communicating by social media on behalf of farming. The program, begun by MCGA two years ago, achieves a double-benefit by helping these young people move towards their career goals, while developing them as the future leaders agriculture will need in order to succeed in the 21st century.

The Agvocate program brings Tusa, Leah Johnson and Kelsey Gunderson–all agriculture students–into contact with ag leaders and gives the three opportunities to hone leadership skills at gatherings like the Minnesota Agricultural Ambassadors Institute, which recently took place in Willmar.

As Tusa explains in his video, he grew up in Alpha, Minnesota, on a 1,000 acre corn and soybean farm, where, among other things, they utilize precision agriculture techniques to maintain the most efficient use of farm nutrients, in order to conserve the environment. He is a junior at South Dakota State University, studying ag business, with minors in accounting and ag marketing.

“I’m looking towards a career in ag lending, but I’m also thinking about returning to the farm,” said Tusa. These days, the two occupations are not mutually exclusive.

Tusa has seen ag leadership at first hand. His father, Loren, has served in many ag leadership positions, including president of MCGA, about ten years ago.

“My experiences in 4-H and FFA have helped me to become aware of the lack of consumer understanding about agriculture and saw that this opportunity to be an Agvocate was a great way to educate the public,” said Tusa. “Working at the Minnesota State Fair at the Miracle of Birth Center, I would have people come up and ask why we need this dairy cow when we can get our milk from the grocery store. As strange as it may seem, they didn’t get the connection that their milk from the grocery store was produced from dairy cows by dairy farmers.”

Tusa thinks the chance to network with other young leaders will be an essential part of the Agvocate experience. He seeks out such opportunities wherever they can be found, and in addition to joining the MCGA Agvocate program, Tusa has been accepted as one of three Minnesota students to take part in FFA’s New Century Farmer program–they are among only 50 students to be selected for the event which takes place in late July in Des Moines, Iowa.

Other networking opportunities are less formal, but just as important. Tusa felt that he learned a tremendous amount about the whole spectrum of agriculture, thanks to dorm arrangements at SDSU’s agriculture school, which placed him together with kids who had grown up around beef cattle operations, sunflower farms, wheat farms and the whole range of agricultural production.

One of the pieces of the farming puzzle Tusa wants to share with the public is the financial side–how much risk is involved, how much capital it takes for a young farmer to start out and how much money is tied up in the things that allow farmers to produce their products.

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