E85 Border Battle

I have found my next big event. On Thursday, March 27, 2010 I will be at the E85 Border Battle with the Minnesota Clean Air Choice team. Minnesota and Wisconsin will compete for two hours to see which state can pump the most E85. 

I will be on the Minnesota side (obviously) at the Holiday Station in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The competing Wisconsin location is in Hudson at the Freedom Valu Center. Flex-fuel vehicles that fill-up between 4 pm and 6 pm will receive 85 cents off per gallon.

If you stop by the Holiday Station in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, you will have an opportunity to meet me, get free stuff, and take a picture or two. I will be sharing the limelight on the Minnesota side with Goldy the Gopher. Everyone should know ahead of time that I will NOT being doing any of the acrobatic acts Goldy is known for—if Goldy suggests a showdown, I would lose before anyone could pump their first gallon of E85.

On the Wisconsin side, Alice in Dairyland will hang out with the Wisconsin Clean Air Choice team to greet customers and tell them about the event.

 

Now I know Alice in Dairyland is a big deal in the agriculture world, but I am overly confident in Minnesota’s ability to pump more E85 than Wisconsin. Based on the glamorous picture of the Minnesota Clean Air Choice Team and me, we have history, we know how to work a crowd. Also, even if drivers stop at the Freedom Valu Center at all, they will only be stopping by to meet Alice in Dairyland, not fill-up on E-85.

Previous E85 Border Battle challenges have attracted 50 – 100 cars, pumping roughly 1,000 gallons of E85. This might be an overestimate, but I am going to predict the Minnesota side will bring in 500 cars and the Wisconsin side will attract 479 cars.

 

Minnesota E85 advocate, Mark Hamerlinck with E85 tatoo

Although I talk big, Wisconsin might prove to be tough competition. The Wisconsin side also has a Clean Air Choice team working toward winning the challenge. Between the two states, 2,000 letters have been sent to owners of Flex-fuel vehicles informing them about the challenge.

Even if Minnesota does not win (and I feel confident Minnesota will) the E85 Border Battle is a winning situation on both sides as all involved will bring awareness about ethanol.

Follow-Up: Ag Awareness Day

Ag Awareness Day at the University of Minnesota was the bomb.com. I have never seen so many people my age be so excited about agriculture–much less in the middle of the Twin Cities–than at the U of M last Tuesday. I only stayed for half of the day (I couldn’t miss my Islam class) but I can only assume the enthusiasm level was risen to unspeakable heights after I left. Here is a healthy dose of highlights from Ag Awareness Day:

  • My favorite part of the day was how many compliments I received on my heels, even by the students I walked by that were not partaking in the Ag Awareness Day event. I know this day was all about agriculture, but there is always time for fashion.

Photo by Richard Marshall/St. Paul Pioneer Press

  • I think some people were surprised that I was a female, but I was wearing heels, so I am not sure what the confusion was about. There is still room for female advocates in an industry is dominated by males.
  • I do not like to brag, but I was the unofficial queen of Ag Day (and I would have been supreme ruler too if the llamas would not have stepped in and stolen my thunder).

Photo by Richard Marshall/St. Paul Pioneer Press

  • The smiling faces in the picture say it all, they were excited to be around me. (Thanks again Richard for sharing the picture, such a doll!)
  • These smiling faces were part of the Minnesota Daily, so you know an event is a big deal when there are media folks smiling that big at an event they are covering.
  • Speaking of media, this picture was shown in the Pioneer Press, and I was briefly on KARE11 TV! MCGA‘s Riley Maanum was interviewed for the 6 O’clock news also on KARE11.
  • The media had plenty to cover, since out on Northrup Mall, roughly 15 agriculture groups had free giveaways and games galore. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Growers Association had the most popular interactive booths. MSGA had a trivia game that involved spinning a wheel and winning a prize. MCGA hosted a game of corn toss and I walked around asking people about their corn knowledge.

Me playing corn toss next to MCGA’s Jenna Kromann.

  • There was a mini petting zoo all day. Animals at the petting zoo included cows, chickens (and the incubated eggs), sheep, and llamas.
  • Inside of Northrop Auditorium, there was a panel of agriculture specialist talking about their specialty. I was too busy working the crowd, so I unfortunately missed the details of those specialties.
  • Following the panel, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore gave a presentation.
  • I suppose I should mention that Beef Man was there, also trying to steal my thunder. He had quick-like-a-bunny boots on and would play tricks on me throughout the day. This is why I believe he deserves the last bullet point, even though I think a lot of people enjoyed him being at Ag Awareness Day.

The first annual Ag Awareness Day was a great success. The event was particularly great because the non-farming public and the farming public intersected in a way that worked magically. I was having a conversation with @ zweberfarms about how these two public groups  rarely interact and talk about agriculture together. This event showcased the possibility of agricultural conversations occurring more often in the future. To misconstrue  Martin Luther King Junior’s speech:

I have a dream, that little farming girls and little farm boys will be able to join hands with little city boys and little city girls.

As always, keep growing.

Nafaka

Ag Awareness Day

Tomorrow is Ag Awareness Day at the University of Minnesota, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. My last post, “Farming 101” has nothing on what tomorrow will do for educating people about farming and agriculture in general. This is truly a moth-watering experience for a college student studying agriculture and communications.

First of all, I get to meet enthusiasts agvocates (advocates for agriculture) like myself throughout the day. While I am talking to these 100 plus advocates for agriculture, I can collect swag. (For anyone who has see The Office and how excited Michael Scott becomes about swag, this is a big deal.)

Second,  various agriculture groups from outside of the University of Minnesota will be on campus to celebrate the event. Minnesota Corn Growers Association will be giving out Frisbees to play with and have a game of bags going throughout Ag Awareness Day. Other notable attendees include: Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farm & Food Coalition, and Minnesota Pork  Producers Association. I hear there is a petting zoo, games on Northrup Mall, and possibly some free food.

Third, University of Minnesota Students will be hosting the event and have been thoroughly enthusiastic about it. This is the exciting part of communications for me. A Facebook fan page has been created for this event, press releases have been written for outside news sources, television and radio commercials have been produced to generate attention, and follow-up news reports have been arranged.

Finally, a great deal of media attention can be attracted because of the speaker, Patrick Moore. He’s a big deal for environmentalists, and will hopefully be a big draw for the cause. If Patrick Moore can’t get people excited about Earth Day, I’m not sure who can (besides maybe Al Gore). There’s my spiel. I’m an agvocate (clearly), and I hope my readers realized I probably have a very biased and positive attitude toward agriculture. If I haven’t made that clear enough, check out my media alert for tomorrow:

When:  April 20, 2010

9 am – 4 pm exhibitors, giveaways and presentations

6 am is set-up

Where: University of Minnesota

Northrop Plaza, Minneapolis Campus

Who: Ag Students doing Ag Awareness Day with all Greek U of M organizations and outside agriculture groups. Patrick Moore will be speaking.

What: The University of Minnesota will host the 40 Annual Earth Day with 13 agriculturally supporting groups at Northrop Plaza. There will be a panel of speakers, each talking about his or her industry. The best of the best in agriculture will be present. Environmentally friendly handouts will be supplied by many of the groups present.

Farming 101

As a city girl in college and a townie growing up, I’ve always been a fan of farming, but never actually a farm girl. I’d like to take this time to provide a guide to farming for myself, for when Chad Greenway and I runaway to his South Dakota farm. I realize I’m a newbie at this, so please comment and correct any additional steps I may miss.

Step 1: Acquire access to a sizable amount of land, preferably large enough to make a decent amount of money from the things that grow on the land. It helps if there are no trees or other large objects such as lakes or rivers over a large portion of the land. Winter or spring is a good time to do this.

Step 2: Purchase hefty equipment that will help you stir up the land enough to drop seeds easily into the land. This is why very little objects on the land is desirable, it’s best not to send your recently purchases equipment into water or head on at a tree.

 

Step 3: Decide what kind of seeds you would like to grow, whether that is beets, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, or other such plants appropriate to your climate, and purchase enough seeds for your land. I’m partial to corn, but my Chad is a soybean supporter, so this might cause some marital problems.

Step 4: Purchase yet another piece of hefty equipment that will help spread the seeds over your sizeable piece of land. It’s a good idea to do this in the spring when the ground has thawed, as to not ruin the new piece of equipment. You could opt for planting the seeds one-by-one, but let’s face it, would you rather walk bent-over for days on end? Or sit in a comfy chair and watch your assets (ha) grow?

Step 5: Wait and pray. This is a good time to have that lake or river I advised you earlier not to purchase when buying land. Nothing washes away the worries like a good swim. Some might put fertilizer on their plants, or detassle any corn, but that takes all the risk and fun out of it. Why go to Las Vegas for some gambling when you could just stay at home with your plants and avoid fertilizer?

 
 

Step 6: Assuming your waiting, praying, and swimming worked, fall should bring about harvest time. This means your plants are mature enough to make some bank off of them. Now it’s time for yes, another big piece of equipment. It’s time to take the plants out of the field and into a place that can make you some money!

Step 7: After harvesting all of your plants, take them to a co-op or other such organization to sell and make some money off of all your hard work!

Step 8: Repeat.

Follow up to HSUS and Yellowtail Wine



Earlier this month I posted about getting a few facts straight regarding the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) and Yellowtail wine. Now it’s time I get my own facts straight. After talking with a few passionate people about who really saves the needy animals in America, I learned a few things.

I am a communications and agriculture double major, so this topic is right up my alley. The number one thing Yellowtail should have done is checked its facts before launching its “Tails for Tails” campaign to celebrate animals with HSUS. I believe this is truly a case where someone did not do his or her homework. Had Yellowtail’s homework been done, the company would know that the true heroes in the animal saving business are the local Humane Societies, not HSUS. Some local humane societies around the country have even started to change their name to disassociate from the HSUS. In the communication industry, this is done when a brand has a bad reputation.

In the farming community, as I quickly learned, HSUS is considered a “bad brand”.  Brands are designed to invoke emotions for people. Yellowtail probably thought HSUS would bring out a sensitive, caring emotion in people. Instead of these mushy feelings, anger and rebellion against Yellowtail ensued. The farming community’s distaste for HSUS stems from HSUS’s problem with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and overall attempt to prevent farmers from doing their job. This campaign was created in good intention, but poor consideration for research and backlash.

An example of why I would believe the farming community has a problem with HSUS is because of the undercover California slaughterhouse scandal (yes, scandal). Fresh out of an ethics class talking about communication codes of ethics, everything about this situation was unethical, whether you are pro ag or not. I opted for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Ethics versus other communications code of ethics handbooks since this seems most closely related to a bad public relations campaign.

Violation #1 “Reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented and avoid deceptive practices,” says the PRSA Code of Ethics. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel as if going undercover, failing to report the results immediately, (even though going undercover in it of itself is against the Communication Code of Ethics) then finally reporting the result at a peak time for elections seems slightly unethical. (More the on the election cycle and other unethical practices by HSUS at Humanwatch.org.)

Violation #2 “To build respect and credibility with the public for the profession of public relations,” is again quoted from the PRSA Code of Ethics. I hardly need to expand on this code of ethics. Is anyone credible after all the codes they violated in my Violation #1 section?

Violation #3 “Keep informed and educated about practices in the profession to ensure ethical conduct,” according to the PRSA Code of Ethics. I am not sure how much more clear the code of ethics can make this.

The moral of the story is that I would like to revoke my previous statement encouraging people not to complain about this donation before they realize what HSUS is all about. Complain all you want; holler and shot as loud as you can about this unethical, falsely advertised company. Yellowtail wine—do your research next time. A few hundred surveys would have saved you more than the $100,000 you spent donating to HSUS.

Keep Growing,

Nafaka

Yellowtail + HSUS does not equal ag support, but why?

The agriculture fanatic that I am, I thought it was high-time I commented on Yellowtail donating $100,000 to the Human Society of the United States. There are many accusations about both Yellowtail and HSUS, and I wanted to know the source of the backlash against Yellowtail. First of all, I need to get something off my chest. I LOVE YELLOWTAIL. It’s difficult enough to find a wine one likes, and even harder to find a brand that is so affordable. Before I bash Yellowtail, I needed to make my love for the wine clear and did some research to make a judgment call on the negative feedback from this donation.

My love for the Yellowtail is starting to crumble due to recent events. For those of you who have lived under a rock, Ag fans involved with social media have been in an uproar about the Yellowtail donation to HSUS. I have not seen such an uproar against a company since it was discovered that tobacco causes cancer.

(Photo courtesy of Popsop.com)

The Center for Consumer Freedom posted about the issues associated with the donation and was kind enough to summarize the 2008 tax filing by HSUS. The tax filing was used by the Center for Consumer Freedom and others to prove how HSUS has been misusing its donations. I feel focusing on how HSUS spends its money is irrelevant of the main cause of uproar. The focus of anger should be on what the HSUS has done to halt certain farming practices, not how the company is run. On the HSUS Web site, one of the main “problems” it aims to correct is factory farming. The term “factory farming” alone could be another blog post, but I will have to save that for another day. HSUS’s campaign  against animal farming should be the heart of the issue in this donation, but many people seem to stray from this idea.

The main argument to be made is that HSUS does not support factory farming, as ugly of a word as it is; therefore Yellowtail’s support of HSUS is cause for soreness. To argue on grounds of how HSUS spends their money I feel makes the Ag community look foolish. Again, I did a little investigative work around the HSUS’s Web site, and found its mission statement:

“The mission of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals. . . . We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation, and neglect and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

The HSUS seeks to achieve our goals through education, advocacy, public policy reform, and the empowerment of our supporters and partners.”

A large portion of HSUS’s money being dedicated to legislation and advocacy seems on par with the mission statement. Why is so much time and energy being wasted on criticizing a company for following what it clearly has set out to do? For that matter, the argument that the CEO of HSUS is overpaid is an illogical argument. The CEO of a national organization earning $250,000 is comparatively low. According to The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) the average CEO earns $364,041 per year. This means the CEO of HSUS is earning $100,000 less than average.

The moral of this money story is a. focus on the root of the problem and b. make sure the problems you complain about are legitimate within the context of where you take the facts.

Admittedly, the .05% of the total money brought in by HSUS is an extremely low amount of money to give to animal shelters, (this amount again according to Center for Consumer Freedom) but animal shelters are not HSUS’s main focus. Shame on whoever donates money to the organization thinking HSUS has shelters as a main focus.

Many of the Tweets and blogs I have read recently focus on the wrong issues. If you are going to make a logical argument, do not digress from the original problem. Yellowtail’s public relations people should have thought about the backlash this donation would have throughout the agriculture community. HSUS’s acts against farming should be the main argument used not how HSUS runs its organization.

All you farming supporters out there, please please please focus your argument against Yellowtail and HSUS on what HSUS has done against the agriculture community, not how HSUS runs its business. As always, please comment. I feel as if this topic is touchy and is in need of some feed back.

Keep Growing,

Nafaka