With any internship, the first day is always the most nerve racking. When starting, there is an expected level of anticipation for traditional intern responsibilities, followed by acceptance because that is the circle of life in the work place. On day one I expected to be picking up coffee, taking clothes to the dry cleaners and answering phones and taking messages. But after day one I quickly learned these were not the tasks I would be responsible for.
I was fortunate enough to play a crucial role in the Alliance this summer; I was able to participate in a number of tasks. I attended two animal rights conferences, drafted several blogs, created social media content, connected with interns working in all aspects of the industry, and tracked media outlets to remain current on industry trends. And while the work load never let up I learned an invaluable lesson this summer. I learned the importance of “Why?”
Understanding the Importance of “Why?”
The need to communicate agricultural practices is at a high. Consumers have become more concerned about where their food is coming from. They want to know the practices that producers use and if these practices line up with their lifestyle, and so they ask the question, “why?” Why farmers implement certain practices, why do companies process food the way they do, why are certain ingredients used, the list is long but the question is the same.
Today all the information that consumers need is at their fingertips. At the click of a button on their phones, laptops, tablets and more, consumers can search for answers to their questions and find them. But there are two sides to every story. This saying is almost cliché because we have heard it uttered so many times, but for the animal agriculture community it could not be truer. A large part of the mission of the Alliance is to protect, to understand who is outputting misleading information with an ulterior motive because no one likes to be the target.
Communication Builds Community
With information coming from multiple sources, why shouldn’t it come from the farmers and ranchers as well, with unbeatable force? By sharing this information consumers are able to build trust by relating their needs to practices and trust leads to continued business transactions. It is commonly said that the biggest problem with communication is that we do not listen to understand; we listen to reply. By understanding the meaning behind “Why?” farmers and ranchers can be reiterating the mutual values they hold with consumers. Communication will lead to community.
A fellow intern this summer quoted, “A customer does not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The animal agriculture community emphasizes animal care every day and this is just one answer to many questions that consumers hold. There is an abundance of information available, but is it the right information? This summer I have asked a lot of questions and I have answered just as many, but most importantly I have learned to understand the importance of “Why?”