Janie’s View Through The Gate

09-30-2022 in Communications Internship

By Janie Plendl

As the CSIF intern, I have been given a variety of opportunities to expand both my knowledge and skillset in many areas. Anywhere from traveling and networking to photography and marketing, I have explored new skills while perfecting old ones.

Traveling. While I knew we were going to be doing a lot of traveling, I had no idea exactly how much traveling we would do. Most of our travels were to award several Iowa farmers with the Good Farm Neighbor award. We also did some traveling for conferences, tradeshows, fairs, and farm visits. My favorite thing about traveling goes along with my favorite thing about the Good Farm Neighbor award – we were able to see the diversity across the state and within each farming operation. Growing up on a livestock and row crop farm, I knew operations were run differently from one to the next, but I had no idea just how different they really were. By traveling to many different farms and giving out over 10 Good Farm Neighbor awards, I realized that most of these farmers had something in common. They were doing things the right way, whether that meant raising livestock responsibly or enhancing relationships with neighbors.

Networking. For those of you that don’t know me, I am an extremely shy person to people I don’t know. I take a lot of time to get warmed up, but once I do, you are in for it. At the beginning of the summer, networking was my least favorite thing to do. I didn’t like awkward conversations and I was afraid to speak on situations I didn’t know much about. By the end of the summer, networking became my new favorite thing. I love to meet industry professionals and farmers, and ask the questions I don’t know. It turns out pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone will only make you feel that much more comfortable later.

Photography. While I have always had a love for photography, I had never really photographed social events before. This turned out to be one of my favorite things to do! I loved getting to see all the neighbors show up for the people who had shown up for them prior. Each Good Farm Neighbor award family was so grateful for each friend and family members that showed up to celebrate them. Being a photographer, I have realized that people don’t take enough pictures. This is often because they’re just trying to live in the moment. Getting a chance to photograph the collaboration between farmers, neighbors, friends, and family is a huge bonus to being behind the lens. I was also given the opportunity to organize CSIF’s annual photo contest. We had 29 entries, which was the most entries we have had in four years. This gave photographers involved in agriculture a chance to showcase some of their best photos in one of three categories including livestock, landscape, and portrait.

Marketing. This has been my favorite skill to work on during my time at the Coalition. Whether it was on social media, getting new “swag”, or revamping the website, it was so much fun to see a different side of marketing. I took on the project of revamping the website to help it look more up-to-date. Although this wasn’t the easiest project for me to work on, as it is never ending, it challenged me in terms of working on my website design skills and learning how everything works on the backside. I also worked on the Iowa Ag Intel campaign where I made weekly social media posts regarding agricultural facts about each county. It’s neat to see the members of the county sharing those facts, which is in turn, is getting the word out about agriculture near them. As for swag items, I designed a lunchbox with the CSIF logo to share with farmers and partner groups. These will serve good use in the combine and tractor this fall, or in the planter this coming spring.

Of course I could talk all day about the experiences I’ve had and the opportunities I’ve been given, but hopefully this gives a good insight into what the Coalition is doing and how we are working to continue to guide farmers in the right direction. I can’t thank the team at CSIF, as well as the Iowa farm families, enough for giving me the opportunity to improve my knowledge on communications and agriculture as a whole.

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