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December 24th, 2020

The Growing Importance of Technology

How AFT Midwest stayed connected with farmers and landowners through a virtual space

As I look outside my December, frosted window in Wisconsin, I contemplate this year; what a year—an expression I think anyone and everyone can relate with. I have come to realize how adaptive and strong humans can be. We adapted in our personal lives, with our families and friends, and especially in our work lives with technology. We have also shown strength through rebuilding our communities, bringing about deeper compassion, and recognizing where we need to do more.

Many companies and institutions had to pivot to an online workplace hindering them from their daily on-the-ground efforts or meeting with the public or vital partners. A huge endeavor for the AFT Midwest team has been trying to stay connected with our farmers and landowners through a virtual space. We had to get creative because we knew some of our best work was done on the land, on the farm, or in the local watersheds. We pivoted almost all of our farmer workshops to online webinars, we delved into new and exciting climate research, created informative videos for programs, and we even explored the use of billboards to help promote program incentives for farmers to improve their soil health and water quality. With all of this said—it has been quite the year and I am proud of the Midwest team.

Since December 2019, the AFT Midwest team has attended, facilitated, presented, or sponsored nearly 100 different events and reached nearly 2,500 total individuals (farmers, ag professionals, ag retailers, etc.) Our team has also grown to include a new policy manager and farmland protection manager—and even promoted within for a new director. We also were able to reach new levels through online social media by more than doubling our AFT Midwest Facebook page followers. We also wrote over a dozen blogs and emails relaying the importance of our work on the land and our successes with partners and farmers. In addition, we launched some of our most important “Farm Under Threat: State of the States” research to Midwest communities. It was definitely a challenging year, but with a strong team like ours we were able to pull through and lift one another up to meet those challenges.

Technology has never been more utilized, improved, and explored—and I hope that those who were struggling on the land or needed assistance were able to find it through some of our work. I personally view technology as both a blessing and a curse because sometimes it can work smooth like butter but other times it can be like stepping on some fresh manure in the middle of the field. The most important way we can work through technology is by assisting one another—and that is exactly what our team did. I look forward to a new year full of innovative technology and new and exciting opportunities for our farmers and landowners.