INDIANAPOLIS – FFA members had the opportunity to hear from McKinzie Smith, collegiate beef advocate for American National CattleWomen, who spoke on communication about agriculture in a workshop titled “20 Seconds (Becoming a Better Advocate for the Ag Industry)” at the 90th National FFA Convention on Thursday afternoon.

The title of the workshop stems from a quote from the movie We Bought a Zoo: “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.”

Smith emphasized how short but effective 20 seconds can be by asking FFA members to do two activities to interact with as many new people as possible, having only 20 seconds to do so.

Smith then had everyone close their eyes and picture themselves working on their supervised agricultural experiences. Then, she asked them to imagine a person approach them and ask them about what they are doing and why. She prompted a question: “What do you say to them?” She said the goal is to know what to say when asked about your involvement in agriculture.

Sometimes talking about agriculture can be hard if the person you are talking to has a negative perception about agriculture, Smith said. She cited examples from her own life as a beef producer.

The first step, Smith said, is to find a way to connect to the person you are talking to. She said to avoid the “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach and build a bridge with the other person by asking questions, doing more listening than talking and being courteous.

Smith said FFA members should communicate with others by sharing their passion for agriculture through social media, blogging or random conversations with friends or strangers.

“I think that every FFA member … needs to have a better understanding of how to communicate to others who aren’t so knowledgeable in the agriculture industry,” said Jenna Bradshaw from the Bear River FFA Chapter in Utah.

Dene Dryden is a sophomore at Kansas State University studying creative writing. An alumna of the Palco FFA Chapter in Kansas, she is serving as a reporter for the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Crew.