By Janice Person
Social Engagement Outreach
Recently, as I flew home from a college friend’s wedding, I chatted with the person next to me on the flight. She had seen the #AgNerd sticker on my iPad keyboard and had to ask about it. As I explained what an agnerd is and what I do for a living, she proclaimed that I have the most interesting job ever!
She was giddy with excitement talking about how many people must love that we are now reaching out to bloggers and helping connect them with some of the farmers we work with and some of the pieces of our business that we think are interesting to other people. In fact, I think I may have the best job at Monsanto. It is a truly unique one and has been created over time based in large part on my personal passion for blogging.
I started blogging personally in 2009 and while I’m not a “mommy blogger” per se, I am like that segment in far more ways than people can realize. I just don’t have kids of my own.
I understand women & men who spend their evenings and weekends balancing things at home and with family with the fact they have a passion to share information online. I understand not knowing the difference in a combine and a cotton picker when you drive down the highway cause I grew up a total city kid. I understand what it is like to have beloved children in your care — mine call me aunt Janice instead of mom — and want to do the best by them.
As I started blogging and joining regular online chats with bloggers, I found myself asking a lot of questions about agriculture broadly and about Monsanto specifically.
Those efforts were all on my personal time at first. I have a passion around sharing the information available to me and was choosing my course. I sit in a unique space as I have been on hundreds if not thousands of farms all over the US and I frequently visit farms overseas. These visits happen while on vacation or when on the job and my friends and family always enjoyed hearing about them.
As I shared more online, the circles of interest grew and the time spent grew as did the value to the company. A few years ago my boss said I could spend a quarter of my time on the job supporting the company’s business online and I enjoyed working with others in agriculture active online.
Now, my full-time job is to open up dialogue with members of online communities about what it is Monsanto does. And like so many bloggers, I tell my personal story on nights and weekend. Connecting with bloggers on behalf of Monsanto probably sounds enormous when you think about some of the online communities discussing the company so I have some focus around the people who I have found so much common ground with.
So the job and I found each other. And I enthusiastically approach what I’m doing because not everyone has the chance to create opportunities for others to see how the food in the grocery store starts with a seed being planted on a farm. I get to do that!
I get to talk to the farmers I’ve met — either in real life or through social media — and ask if they are willing to have a group come out and see what they do. I can create the connections for others to follow a blogging conference meeting farm women who also blog or for people to spend a learning all about growing fruits and vegetables.
So far, not a single farmer has refused my request. In fact, I have farmers volunteering left and right. And though some bloggers aren’t interested, others very much want to better understand the role farmers have in their homes everyday and the role companies like ours have too.
And finding those people, having conversations and finding the common ground we have, that’s an awesome job to have!