…and she is definitely Agriculture Proud! Janice is one of my favorite people online, and I have had the blessing to meet her in real life. She is that awesome person who is always there for ya, one of the people I go to for advice when I get stuck, especially with Social Media topics. Her Social Media Heroes series, speaks well of her abilities too. Continuing with my Agriculture Proud series featuring diversity within Agriculture, I want to feature JP and how she works with so many in Agriculture and Cotton, even while being a city gal. Why are YOU Agriculture Proud?

Putting My Passion for Communications to Work in Agriculture

It was clear at an early age that I wanted to do communications. The signs seem so clear:

  • I never have known a stranger, no matter where in the world I’ve traveled.
  • A camera is an extension of my body, something I am never without.
  • Putting what I’m seeing as I travel about into words comes easy and I enjoy.

But you can use those skills anywhere and although I stumbled into agriculture, putting my communications skills and passion to work in the field talking to farmers and researchers has been incredibly rewarding. I get to learn from people who have years, even decades of experience in areas that others can benefit from hearing about. So my job is to talk to them, see what information needs to passed along.

Since my family didn’t grow up in agriculture, I’ve had the chance to learn incredible things that leave my high school & college friends wondering there was some alien force that took control of my vocabulary and friends lists. For instance, I’ve had the chance to:

  • Discover some of incredible environmentalists out there — When I was in college, I go to go out for my first on-farm interview — it was with Mr. Ray Young, a cotton farmer & cotton consultant in Wisner, Louisiana. He spent his time telling me about how soils work and the way he was greatly reducing, and at times eliminating tillage as that provided better environment for earthworm growth which could build soil tilth in a way that led to dramatic benefits environmentally. The practice has grown significantly since then  thanks to some of the new tools introduced to the farm, especially biotechnology. How cool to see such environmentalism grow from a point where I was doing a story on a rare farmer practice to something so abundantly mainstream as to be discussed daily in agricultural media!
  • Showcase US cotton for farmers from all over the world — Many have come to the US just to learn about how things are done here, looking for ways to improve their own farms at home. The visits also let me learn so much about agriculture in other parts of the world as well as the lives led there. In the photo at right, a group from Turkey is learning from the USDA-AMS about the high volume instrumentation (HVI) testing all US cotton undergoes so textile mills can best pick the fiber qualities they want to use for various products. Turkey has long been a customer of US cotton as well as a producer of the natural fiber.
  • Learn from cotton breeders what transgressive segregation is — I translate it into non-science by simply saying the new cotton variety has characteristics that made it better than the best of each of its parents. The cotton variety we were talking about had better cotton quality than the parent lines… that makes for nicer clothes or textiles. This one didn’t seem nearly as easy on the surface and I’m sure scientists who tried to explain it will point out I’m oversimplifying. They can use the comment section to expand on it more. 🙂

Those examples are just a few of the kinds of things I get to do within the awesome things I do to earn a living! I mean, mixing my passions for communications with the salt of the earth that comes from working within agriculture? Who could ask for anything more? Well, I not only can, but I get much more than I ask for in friends for a lifetime, the opportunity to always be learning and knowing I get to make a contribution to building understanding of the industry that helps provide the food, fiber and fuel I count on EVERY DAY! The people who work around me and the contributions they make to a better world make me ag proud…. I’m lucky enough to get to shine the light on them…. what a great way to spend my days.

Janice Person is a fourth generation city girl who found a passion for agricultural communications in college while working for some trade magazines. She has spent most of her career focused on Southern row crops with cotton being a common thread as she’s worked for various companies. Social media was something she got behind years ago with MySpace, but it ramped up significantly with recently. She recently redesigned her personal blog “a colorful adventure,” loves ding blogchat on Twitter as JPlovesCOTTON, interacts through Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.  Janice is currently a public affairs director for Monsanto Company where she contributes to the company’s Beyond the Rows blog.