By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net
The Pork Checkoff has selected 12 college students to represent the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces team. The program, now in its fourth year, partners with students who are earning a degree in agriculture and allows them to help share the stories of pig farmers all across the U.S.
“These students are interested in our industry and want to tell our story so we will bring them in for training and give them the tools that they need to do so,” said Claire Masker, communications director with the National Pork Board. “At the end of the program, they will all receive a scholarship to go toward their tuition and fees at their university.”
Social media is ingrained in the lives of young people. Masker says this is a tool to tell the story of pig farming.
“In our social networks, if you are on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat, a lot of people that follow you probably aren’t involved in agriculture or in pig farming,” Masker said. “We can use these platforms to become experts for those individuals and that is the goal of this program. We are giving these students the tools to share our message with their network. They don’t have to go out and be a superstar on social media to make an impact. They can just share their stories with people within their social sphere.”
The 2018 class of Social Forces includes Abbie Greer, who is studying Ag Business and Meat Science at The Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI). She is spending her summer working on a farm and getting pigs ready for the Ohio State Fair. The chore list includes working the pigs twice a day, washing them multiple times a day and making sure they are giving proper nutrition to get them ready for the show ring.
“My family didn’t come from an ag background, so I have learned so much by working at a pig farm,” Greer said. “I was recently able to help farrow 67 sows out, so I really got to see the entire process of raising them from piglets to market ready and seeing the quality of the finished product.”
As Greer begins to chronicle her time on the farm for the Pork Checkoff, she is realizing that her audience may be seeing, for the first time, what Greer sees every day.
“I am trying to be more in-depth with that I am showing and saying in my social media posts,” Greer said. “I am ready to be there if anyone that sees what I post has any questions about how or why something is being done on the farm. My goal is to put as much knowledge out there as I can and I hope that when someone sees what goes into pig farming it gives them a chance to think about it and recognize that meat doesn’t just come from the grocery store.”
Follow Greer on Twitter (@abbiegreer1935), on Instagram (abbieee_greerrr) and on Snapchat (abbie-greer). You can follow all of the students on the Student Social Forces Team with #RealPigFarming.