14th Annual NAMA Boot Camp Looks to the Future

Written by NAMA on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 , 3:43 pm

Attendees brought an obvious enthusiasm for all things agriculture to the 2017 NAMA Boot Camp. Agri-marketing newcomers and industry veterans alike grew knowledge and friendships at the two-day conference.

Many attendees came early to Kansas City for the Ag Tour, sponsored by the MoKan Chapter of NAMA. The day did not disappoint. The group explored agricultural operations at a 15,000-acre corn and soy operation, and then sampled delicious and unique flavors of milk at a regional treasure, the Shatto Milk Company. The cotton candy milk in particular reminded attendees of a bowl of Lucky Charms.

The fun continued with a wine sampling and tour of Missouri’s first green vineyard and winery, Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery. Attendees learned how Jason and Colleen Gerke develop their business through strategic marketing and creative events. Jason and Colleen then introduced the group to the sheep and chickens that control weeds and insects at the 6-acre sustainable vineyard.

On Wednesday, Gail Calhoun kicked off the conference with a dynamic presentation centered on identifying communication styles and preferences, and how to work more cohesively with team members.

The conversation continued with a NAMA Boot Camp favorite, the Producer Panel. Farmers discussed what influences their purchasing decisions, the obstacles they face in the field and how agri-marketers can best partner with them through strategic use of emerging channels.

The second panel of the day, “Media in Farming: Will Our Market Ever Be Like Any Other?” dug into the business side of media selling, buying and creating, and gave attendees firsthand advice on how to navigate the ag-agency world, which panelists agreed is a market unlike any other. Panelists also confirmed that print has held strong in agri-marketing, even with the explosion of digital channels. Patrick Smith of Bader Rutter said, “The need for research is greater today than ever before. We need to do it efficiently, and use data to understand who the consumer is and why they’re interested.”

Breakout sessions rounded out the remainder of the day. Attendees explored “A Year in the Life of a Producer,” presented by Illinois farmer Chad Bell, and listened to “Lessons Learned from a Career in Crisis Management,” presented by David Mehlhaff.

The conference kept rolling with a session on Farm Economics and the Commodities, presented by Arlan Suderman, which investigated global macro-economic factors influencing corn, soybeans and wheat. The other session focused on unlocking “The Secrets of a Strong Client-Agency Relationship.” Later, Amy Bugg shared several entertaining anecdotes from her work in both the client and agency worlds.

The first day of the conference ended at Brick House in the Martini Corner. Attendees sampled top-notch KC fare and cocktails, while enjoying networking and laughs with fellow agri-marketers from across the country.

The final day of Boot Camp began with a conversation on the importance of farm radio for the agriculture industry and then continued with an interactive session with Diane Martin, Amy Bradford and Matt Coniglio. The panelists gave their favorite tips on how to build a successful career in agribusiness.

A crowd favorite among attendees was the closing session, presented by Paul Spooner of the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), on what’s to come in American agriculture. Armed with videos, data, tips and trends in the industry, Paul explained how animal welfare concerns are high on consumers’ list of priorities, and there is currently a major gap in tying sustainability to GMOs. Spooner concluded his presentation by urging farmers and agri-marketers alike to turn the ongoing food wars into a conversation led by farmers and ranchers, and to use personal stories and photos on blogs and social media to go about this urgent work.

Sara Steever, a member of the 2017 NAMA Boot Camp Steering Committee, was pleased with the caliber of the event’s presenters and attendees alike.

“I’ve been a member of the NAMA community for years, and I’m always so impressed with these events,” she said. “Providing education and networking opportunities for the next generation of agri-marketers is one of the most important things NAMA does.”

Check out some great photos of both the MoKan Ag Tour and Boot Camp on the NAMA Flickr. #namacamp17

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