A Mad Time in Madtown        


MikeOpperman.webBy Mike Opperman

ARC Board President                                       

While the excitement over having the ARC annual meeting in Madison, WI, won’t quite reach the reaction in downtown Madison when the Badgers made it to the Final Four, anticipation is brewing as the meeting and tour agendas get finalized. Well, maybe I exaggerate a little.

The agenda will be slightly different from other meetings. Instead of an afternoon of educational sessions we’ve made it a full day. The morning focus will be on the relationship different elements of the food chain have with production agriculture with speakers from Darden Restaurants, Culvers and Dean Foods.

Over lunch we’ll hear from Dairy Carrie and Daren Williams about their respective experiences dealing with anti-ag marketing campaigns (think Chipotle). The afternoon will provide perspective on how food media portrays agriculture, as well as trending topics on social media. A representative from the world-famous Madison Farmer’s Market will round out the day with insight into what makes that initiative so successful. That’s tentative at this point, but we’re confident we will get that confirmed soon.

The next day will include tours to several area agricultural enterprises, beginning with a tour of ABS, a global dairy and beef genetics company. The next stop will be a dairy farm, then it’s on to the International Crane Foundation. At the end of the day will be a unique behind-the-scenes tour at Wolersheim Winery, a great end to a long day, and the perfect way to get ready for the Golden Arc awards that evening!

We hope to see you in Madison on June 25 and 26. Aside from the educational opportunities, it’s a great way to reconnect and network with your peers. To register for the meeting, go to www.agrelationscouncil.com



MadisonConcourseHotel2014 ARC Meeting Agenda Set for Madison, Wisconsin!

ARC Annual Meeting June 24-26 – Features New Format

By Den Gardner

Executive Director

Just under three months remain before the annual ARC meeting and the agenda is nearly complete. If these topics interest you, then Madison, Wis., June 24-26, is the place to be:

  • Retail restaurant perspectives on sustainability and the connection to agriculture,
  • Roundy’s and down-chain perspectives from a food service standpoint,
  • A dairy and beef perspective on consumer restaurant marketing at restaurants such as Panera and Chipotle,
  • Social media monitoring,
  • How ag is covered in consumer food media and its impact on PR,
  • Selling ag produce through the eyes of the Madison Farmers’ Market (tentative),
  • Tours of ABS, a dairy farm, the Crane Foundation, Wolllersheim Winery
  • And so much more.

ARC Board President Mike Opperman and chair of the program committee, is excited about the program and the new format. “The agenda, new format, summer timing and Midwest location all add up to what we expect will be our biggest meeting in years,” he says. “Registration information is on the web site now, so sign up today.”

The meeting will be held  at the historic Madison Concourse Hotel. Named as Madison Magazine’s “Best Hotel” by its Readers’ Poll, the downtown hotel is one of the nation’s premier independent hotels. ARC members will get a rate of just $149 per night. The hotel is located near the State Capitol and State Street. It is conveniently located near all of Madison’s vibrant night-life and the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.

Opperman said most importantly that the format of the annual meeting is changing to provide more professional development, as another half-day of additional programming for its members is being planned. “We’re meeting the needs of our members,” he adds.

For those members looking for professional development, the format for the meeting will now look like this:

Tuesday, June 24 – Board meeting and dinner. (Any members are allowed to attend the board meeting to present your ideas.)

Wednesday, June 25 – Registration at 8 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Meetings will run throughout the day.

Thursday, June 26 – ARC business meeting, followed by Madison-area farm tours that will provide a unique flavor of Wisconsin agriculture. Upon returning from the tours, the evening banquet will feature the Golden ARC Awards presentation, along with the naming of the most recent inductees in the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame.


 Tuesday, June 24

2 p.m. to 5 p.m. – ARC Board Meeting

6 p.m. – ARC board dinner

Wednesday, June 25

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. — Registration

9:00 a.m. — 9:15 a.m. — Welcome and Outline of Program Agenda (Mike/Den)

9:15 a.m. — 10:15 — Session 1

Brandon Tidwell, Darden Restaurants and Paul Pitas, Culvers. Topic: Retail perspectives on sustainability and their respective connections with agriculture

10:15 a.m. -10:30 a.m. — Break before next session

10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. — Session 2

Jen Walker, Dean Foods. Jen Walker, Director of Dairy Stewardship for Dean Foods, will focus on the relationship between its farmers who produce milk for the company, plus consumers and activists regarding procurement requirements and how milk is produced. Another speaker (yet to-be-determined) also will be featured in this segment.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch

Speaker: Carrie Mess “DairyCarrie” and Daren Williams. Their perspectives on issues relating to Panera and Chipotle.

1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. — Session 3

Speaker: Fred Minnick Topic: How agriculture is covered in food media, and how that impacts ag PR.  Fred is an ag communicator by education and past practice.  He also was a Wisconsin National Guard soldier, and wrote the book, Camera Boy, an army journalists’ view of the war in Iraq.  Fred is one of the premier wine and whisky writers and photographers in the world, and has interesting views of how agriculture is covered in food media, as well as insights on how that impacts  ag PR. 

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. — break before next session

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m .– Session 4

Speaker: Madison Farmers’ Market Representative. Nearly 200 area farmers sell home grown produce at this world-renowned market. We’ll get perspectives on consumer buying intentions. (This workshop is tentative at this time.)

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. — break before final session

3:45 – 4:45 — Session 5

Joe Hansen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Topic: Social media monitoring

5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – ARC Business Meeting

6 p.m. — Adjourn session.

7:00 p.m.  – Evening group dinner.

Thursday, June 26

7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.  – Breakfast

8:00 a.m. – Board bus to ABS (about 15 minute drive)

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Tour of ABS.

10:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m. – Travel and visit dairy farm (site TBD)

11:30 a.m. – 1:00p.m. – Lunch. Travel to Dane Culvers.

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. — Travel to International Crane Foundation (Bariboo) for tour.

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. – International Crane Foundation tour.

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Travel to Wollersheim Winery.

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Wollersheim Winery.

5:00 p.m. (approximate) – Travel back to hotel.

6:00 -7:00 p.m. – Reception

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Golden ARC Awards Dinner and Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony

Need more information? Please contact ARC Board President Mike Opperman (mopperman@charlestonorwig.com) or the ARC office — Den or Barb – (arc@gandgcomm.com).

“Wisconsin in June will be delightful,” says Opperman. “Wisconsin is rich in agricultural history and production and ARC members will find our state enticing from so many aspects. Our capital city is a great place to be and we promise a program that will provide great professional development.”

A Little More About Wisconsin

A leading agricultural state, Madison lies in the midst of fertile land, where dairy has always been the leading ag production segment. But did you know that it also leads the nation in production of snap beans, cranberries and ginseng? Other highlights include:

•           Wisconsin’s fertile upland soils are well suited for alfalfa production, helping to feed  1.26 million dairy cows.

•           Each year, Wisconsin growers harvest more than 1.8 million Christmas trees

•           Dairy cows in the U.S. eat more than 800 million bushels of corn. Livestock eat an additional 1.1 billion bushels in the form of distillers dried grains from ethanol production.

•           Wisconsin chicken farms produce 1.35 billion eggs.

•           Wisconsin cheese makers produce more than 650 different varieties, types and styles of cheese.

•           State mink producers produce 886,000 pelts each year – tops in the nation.

•           Sale of cattle and calves account for $726 million in farm income annually.

•           Wisconsin ranks #1 in dairy goats with 46,000 head.

•           Dairy accounts for nearly 40% of all Wisconsin agriculture jobs, employing 146,200 people in the state.

•           Wisconsin leads the nation in both the number and diversity of dairy farms. Our 13,000 dairy farms include rotational grazing operations, organic producers, and conventional dairy operations of all sizes.

•           Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of on-farm bio-energy systems with 31 methane digesters installed and more planned. Methane digesters are being used on farms to turn manure into renewable bio-energy. Using this technology, five cows can provide enough power for an average size home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

•           The average farm size in Wisconsin is 195 acres.

•           Wisconsin’s agriculture industry generates $59.16 billion in economic activity annually.

•           Over 99% of Wisconsin’s farms are family-owned.

•           More than 353,991 Wisconsin citizens, 10% of our workforce, rely directly on agriculture for their jobs.

Watch for more information from ARC on our web site regarding the meeting.

In keeping with an ARC tradition to move the meeting around to different parts of the country, the organization also reminds members that the June 2015 meeting is set for Denver, CO. More on that meeting down the road.

Hello to Kristy Mach

Sullivan (6), Kristy, Tom, Sophia (10)(Editor’s Note: Kristy Mach joined the staff of ARC in January. She will be playing a major role in ARC over the next few years, assisting Barb and Kathy in a number of initiatives for the organization. Here is a first-person account from Kristy about her life, her career and her family.)


I’ve known Den for six years as executive director of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce.  He golfed in our golf outings, ran our Half Marathon & 5K, provided awards and always popped in with a friendly hello.  When I notified my Board in the fall of 2013 that it was time to move on, Den stopped in for a chat.

Den said tell me your story.  So I did.  I am originally from Oshkosh, WI.  My whole family attended UW-Madison, but I was the black sheep and went to UW-Oshkosh.  I played soccer and graduated with a degree in Communications, an emphasis in Radio/TV/Film.  After an internship with CBS News in New York, I moved back to Wisconsin and started producing the news at the FOX affiliate in Green Bay.

After a St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chicago, I decided to move.  (Who wouldn’t after a weekend like that?)  I landed a great job doing business-to-business marketing with Hyatt Hotels Corporation.  A great opportunity to learn from a couple of industry pros, from marketing to meeting planning to the ins and outs of business and incentive travel.  We did four major industry trade shows a year and so I got to travel to a lot of fun destinations and eat well!

I also met my husband, Tom.  He landed in Chicago after receiving an engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.  He said he was from a suburb of the Twin Cities of Minnesota.  I believed him until I visited New Prague.  When more than 40 cornfields separate you from the next town, you are NOT a suburb.

We have been married for 11 years, have two kids – Sophia, 10, and Sullivan, 6 – and yes, six years ago, landed in New Prague.

Back to Den’s visit.  My story seemed to resonate – washed-up-old-news-person-turned-marketing/PR/communications-professional.  He asked me “What’s next?”  I joked, “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”  He replied laughing: “Neither do I.”   After a few meetings, here I am, and I couldn’t be happier.

I look forward to working with ARC – hoping it improves my golf game and missing green thumb – and meeting you all in Madison in June.  ~ Kristy Mach


2014 GGoldenARCAwardslogoolden ARC Awards Contest Update

By Adelita Tyson

Golden ARC Awards Program Assistant Manager

Entries for the 2014 Golden ARC Awards (GAA) saw the highest number since the re-introduction of the contest in 2010.  The response was great for this fifth year of competition. Thank you to all who helped support ARC and submitted entries.

In past years we would already be announcing the winners from the contest. However, the annual ARC meeting was pushed to later in the year, and thus, the same was done for the GAA contest.

The winners for this year will be announced at the 2014 ARC Annual Meeting in Madison, WI June 24-26. For the third time, one entry will be awarded the “Golden ARC de Excellence” for best overall campaign entry.

Although the entries have closed and the judging has begun we still need your help. As you may have noticed, some of the entry categories in the tactics division were changed this year. Technology is constantly changing the way we do everything in our lives and public relations is no different. Because of this, we realize some of the entry categories may need some updating. We are requesting your suggestions.

For a list of the current entry categories, visit the Golden ARC Awards website at www.goldenarcawards.com. If you have category suggestions, please email them to Adelita Tyson, Assistant Golden ARC Awards Manager, at adelita.tyson@mmcsolutions.com. We look forward to reviewing everyone’s ideas.

“Third Class” of Honorees Named into Ag PR Hall of Fame

48-2013ARC.HOF.webThe Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) is pleased to announce two new members into the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame: Richard Howell and Gary Myers, APR. Both will be recognized on Thursday, June 26, at the annual meeting of ARC in Madison, Wis. This is the third class of inductees since the program was instituted in 2012.

Howell and Myers will join previous inductees Don Lerch, Lyle Orwig, John Harvey and Paul Weller in the Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) and Agri Marketing magazine.

Richard Howell

Howell joined ARC back in 1968 as the voice of the Ohio Farm Bureau. He has been a member of ARC ever since (officially retiring from his public relations career in 1992). He served as ARC president in 1982, assisted with – and on – most of its committees, attended nearly all of its early meetings and was granted ARC Lifetime Member Status by the organization in 2001. Each year Howell volunteers to be the ARC Foundation’s agent (the organization is incorporated in Illinois), filing its paperwork and personally paying its annual fee to remain incorporated.

Here’s what Paul Weller, former ARC manager and one of last year’s inductees in the Hall of Fame, says about Howell: “His 35-year career was spent in ag public relations and communications, ranging from broadcasting, to magazine writing and editing, to reach out to consumers and the general public to tell the favorable story of America’s farm commodities. With his faithful wife, Pat, by his side, he has represented the very best in the agricultural public relations profession.”

Another Hall of Famer, John Harvey, had this to say about Howell: “When I admire the award I was fortunate enough to receive last year, ARC memories flow like a waterfall in famed Yosemite National Park. I fondly recall the many meetings loaded with key ag public relations people; all extremely creative, personable and totally dedicated to their profession. One of those ARC pros was Richard Howell – a man qualified and deserving of the ARC Hall of Fame honor.”

Active ARC member and leader Carroll Merry of Countryside Marketing said: “If you’ve been active in ag PR for less than 25 years, you may not even know Richard Howell. Even if you have been in the business longer, you still may not know him well. And that’s fine with Richard. He did a superb job as a public relations professional – everyone knew of his clients and all the positive things they were doing, but no one ever heard of him. And that is the way it was supposed to be – his clients were the focus of the limelight, not him.”

Merry goes on to say that Howell is the person that got “me and my wife, Jean, involved in the ARC.” It was through the intern program, which ran for decades in ARC. In fact, it is hoped that with the resurrection of the ARC Foundation, that programs like the internship effort can be re-instituted in the years ahead. “Richard was the no-headlines-for-me guy who worked behind the scenes for so many years to make sure the stories of agriculture and agribusiness were told correctly and in the proper perspective.”

Gary Myers

When you think ag PR, the name Gary Myers is usually connected with it. That’s because a nearly 40-year career has encompassed everything about agricultural public relations – from farmer to farmer and farmer to consumer and all points in between.

Tim Oliver, president of MorganMyers, where Myers served as president for 23 years, says it best about Myers’ career and approach to ag PR: “Anyone working for Gary knew that he set the bar high. His catch phrase, ‘press ahead’ verbalized multiple times a day, serves two purposes. First, to motivate the team to make progress on the task at hand, and second, to always be viewing the task at hand in a larger context, and looking for ways to make the outcomes better.”

ARC member Bob Giblin APR, now manager of global bovine marketing communications at ABS Global, Inc., used similar words to describing Myers’ way of “raising the bar.” Giblin notes that Myers changed the way ag public relations was practiced “through his focus on planning to achieve behavioral outcomes, rather than just changes in awareness, opinions and attitudes.” He adds that while others debated the notion of measurable results, Myers implemented it.

Another attribute noted about Myers was his ability to identify, hire and train team members to become leaders. “They not only led internal teams, but also agricultural industry and communications and marketing groups like ARC, NAMA and PRSA,” Giblin said.

Myers has greatly contributed to ARC through the years. He served as president from 1989-1990, and is a past winner of the ARC Founders Award. Giblin notes that he also led a coalition of several public relations organizations in unifying public relations accreditation under one credential, “thus enhancing the value of accreditation for the entire public relations practice. He also encouraged others to both join and take active, leading roles in ARC and other organizations.”

After leaving MorganMyers, he has headed his own consulting group GaryMyers + Associates. He also is an adjunct professor at West Virginia University.

A Dedication to Excellence

The Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame was created by the ARC to recognize those professionals who provided exemplary service to the agricultural industry in public relations. These two new honorees join four others as leaders who took ag communications to a higher level.

“Both of these leaders embody a dedication to excellence that personifies what ag public relations is all about,” said Deron Johnsonof Zoetis, board member of ARC and chair of the ARC Hall of Fame Committee. “It is an honor to recognize both Gary and Richard and we look forward to the induction ceremony in June.”


APR training sessions are back

By Ken Gordon, APR

The reports of my absence from the Agricultural Relations Council have been greatly exaggerated. I was not exploring the Amazon jungle, but rather adjusting to a new job.

Having now settled in, I would like to once again pick up the APR training ball and kick off some new sessions. Those who participated in APR classes with me before my untimely hiatus should contact me so we can have a review session and get the readiness review materials set. Those who wish to seek an APR designation can contact me as well, and we’ll begin training sessions in May.

There are many excellent communicators today working as public relations professionals. By achieving accreditation you demonstrate your commitment to the communications profession. Earning the APR is an individual achievement open only to seasoned working professionals with a recommended five or more years public relations experience. It’s a challenging process but it is worth it.

Those interested should contact Ken Gordon, APR at ken.gordon@momentive.com, or call at 614-225-2224, to get started.


Spring is a time for renewal – to ARC!

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC Membership Chair

Is it spring yet? Many of us in the northern half of this county—and even some areas of the southern region—keep asking that question as the snow continues to pile up and the thermometer regularly heads teen ward. (If that is a word!). Spring is the time of rebirth and renewal; that’s not only the renewal of the trees, flowers and spirits, but renewal of your membership to your favorite agricultural communicators’ organizations—ARC!

At the time of writing, we had 80 members, and I know of a few pledged that are coming in. We are still, however, below our goal of 100. If you‘re a member who hasn’t renewed, please do so today. ARC has come a long way since six years ago when a small group had the vision to renew a failing ag communicators group. And renew they did. The membership increased quickly, and members were becoming more and more involved. We want to keep the amazing momentum of the past few years. Look at our new website and see all of the great benefits you receive with your ARC membership.

If you have renewed or are a new member, thank you so much. I encourage each ARC member to recruit just ONE professional agricultural communicator you know. Just one! If everyone gets just one, we will rocket up to 160 members, plus add to our excellent networking pool. Bring a new member to the ARC conference in May in Madison, WI, and they will leave the event with renewed enthusiasm for agricultural public relations and with excellent new skills and information. Best of all, they will come away with new professional contacts as well as new friends. And that’s what ARC is all about.

Welcome new ARC members: Alexis Abel, Swanson Russell; Tyler Bowser, Osborn Barr; Leah Daniels, NewsWorks and Alissa Kiedrowski, Charleston-Orwig.

Happy Spring!


ARC Website Update

By John Blue

ARC Board Member

The ARC website is in the middle of several updates. Recently released were the launch of the new theme, membership directory (access info below), and content plan. Coming up next are the tools to allow for online ARC membership renewal and ARC conference registration. Read more:


The membership directory is for members only, access info below.

Access the directory today: http://www.agrelationscouncil.org/members/

* username: arcuser

* password: arcpassword

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.
John Blue (jlblue@TruffleMedia.com, @TruffleMedia)



Critics In The Online Sphere – This webinar by Janice Person, Director, Social Media, Monsanto Company, shares her experience of how to handle online critics. She also shares how to reach out and learn about others as a way to have better conversations about agriculture, food, and life. This webinar is for members only, access info below.

Watch now: http://vimeo.com/user19492355/janice-person-critics-in-the-online-sphere

* Password: ARCPerson4428

** Case sensitive


Planning Your PR Future

By John Blue

ARC Board Member

How are you thinking about the future of public relations? In some corners of the world it seems public relations is not relevant. And still more people continue to believe that public relations is all smoke and mirrors with some uncertain budget. What is the future of your PR? Read more:



ARC Silent Auction at Ag Media Summit Ready to “Rev it Up!”

AMSAg Media Summit attendees in 2014 hope to “Rev it Up!” in Indianapolis July 26-30 as ARC collaborates with our AMS friends on this year’s Silent Auction. The goal is to exceed last year’s revenue of more than $3.500.

A record 50 items were available at last year’s meeting in Buffalo. And a big thank you to all ARC board members, each of whom contributed at least one item to the auction.

Funds raised through the auction are used to fund various youth programming of AMS, and are shared equally with ARC. This will be the fifth year ARC will collaborate with AMS on the Silent Auction.

“It was another great year and members enjoyed a variety of items in the auction,” says Den Gardner, executive director. “We can’t thank Amy McDonald and Addie Tyson, plus Barb Ulschmid for their tireless efforts to logistically handle the auction from start to finish. We hope for another great year.”

As the planning is well underway for 2014, we hope you can begin to think about items for this year.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Spring Calendar of Events


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June 24-26, 2014

ARC Annual Meeting

Madison Concourse Hotel

Madison, WI








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