Posted by: arcadmin on December 5, 2013

Posted in: Newsletter

A Catalyst for Collaboration

By Mace Thornton,  ARC Board President

Thornton.Mace.webIt has been a great year to be a member of the Agricultural Relations Council. In 2012, we focused on improving and moving forward with our key programs, such as the ARC Golden ARC Awards, the Ag PR Hall of Fame, APR accreditation and our annual professional improvement meeting. And throughout the year, we have continued to build membership.

In 2013, we will be looking for new ways to provide additional advantages to ARC members, and we are always open to input from members with great ideas. One area where all of us know we need to increase our programming is creating additional opportunities for greater sharing among ARC members.

Collaboration is driving the bus, when it comes to communicating about agriculture and food these days. Some of this comes through social media outreach, some of it comes through traditional and social networking and some of it is the product of good, old-fashioned coalition building. As an organization, it is important that we develop new ways for ARC members to collaborate – through all of the aforementioned tactics.

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to attend a meeting in Chicago that was devoted to three stalwart agriculture and food groups comparing notes for the betterment of the whole. I know that some of you also attended this meeting.

Representatives from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, The Center for Food Integrity and The International Food Information Council got together to share with a broader audience of stakeholders common findings from their deep pools of research work.

The information that was shared outlined a clear and concise roadmap for modern communication strategy regarding food and agriculture. Here are a few of the highlights from my perspective:

  • Consumers are most concerned about their families’ long-term health. Short-term, barring any major, news-making events, they have a fairly high level of trust in the safety of their food.
  • Messages alone, no matter how well-thought-out, or research-based they might be, no longer work alone. It is best to focus on empowering farmers and ranchers to tell their stories and create “experiences” for those on the receiving end.
  • Don’t simply tell consumers the facts or try to lead them down a predetermined road. Show them all sides of the issue and allow them to “discover the truth” on their own.
  • When engaged in storytelling, use the language of food, rather than the language of science.
  • Build relationships and engagement efforts on establishing shared values. And supporting transparency offers the largest opportunity.
  • Acknowledge concerns and address ways in which food and agriculture has shown continuous improvement.

One of the best lines from that meeting, in my opinion was: Showing excitement for the future is always better than trying to defend the past.

Collaboration among ag PR professionals really does matter, regardless of whether the interaction is based on addressing a shared challenge person to person, or a broader challenge that cuts across agriculture sectors to touch consumers. ARC, in finding new ways to be a catalyst for collaboration, indeed has an exciting future ahead. Let’s explore the possibilities.


ARC Members Annual Meeting Set for Oklahoma City – Welcome to the Sooner State – ARC Style!

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Colcord.webThe 2013 ARC spring meeting is all set for Oklahoma City, OK, March 20-22, 2013. The meeting will be held at the historic Colcord Hotel in the city’s most exciting section: Bricktown.

The annual meeting agenda (go for the full agenda) is highlighted by several nationally-known farmer/rancher bloggers, a student panel on ag communications and the future, a social media workshop and tours of the National Memorial and Museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, plus Express Ranches and more.

And if that’s STILL not enough, we’ll have our annual Golden ARC awards dinner, the naming of the second group of inductees in the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, the annual business meeting and more.

Historic_Hotels_logo.webThe annual meeting was moved to March last year, for the first time. ARC had its highest attendance in recent memory. “Moving the meeting a month forward to late March got us beyond most of the major mid-winter ag trade shows,” said Mace Thornton, ARC board president. “We were thrilled with the turnout and look for even better attendance in Oklahoma City.”

The ARC Program Committee, made up of Mace Thornton, Daren Williams and Janice Person, and your ARC staff, has put together a great program. We promise it will capture all that’s great about Oklahoma agriculture and look at the issues facing ag industry communicators.

MickeyMantlesLogo.webRegistration for this year’s meeting is $325, with the program starting with registration at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, and concluding Friday evening, March 22, with our Golden ARC Awards banquet, and the naming of our Hall of Fame award winners, sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine.

The board meeting will be Thursday morning and any members are invited to attend.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Board arrivals during the day.Board Dinner – The Flint Restaurant –


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breakfast at leisure
7:30 am to 10:00 am Board Meeting – Wright Room
10:00 am to 11:30 am Registration
11:30 am Welcome by Mace Thornton, ARC President – Garden Room
11:30 am Box lunches for attendees
11:45 am to 12:30 pm Jeff Fowle, nationally-known farmer/rancher and blogger. Will kick-off meeting discussing reaching consumers through social media.
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm Follow-up panel – Debbie Lyons-Blythe – Kansas, Wildlife commissioner of Oklahoma and Suzie Wilde – Texas. Jeff Fowle – Moderator
1:30 pm to 1:45 pm Break
1:45 pm to 2:45 pm Oklahoma State Student Panel. Shelly Sitton – Moderator. Careers – how the students see the market and how those attending can provide “real-life” experience and advice to these students.
2:45 pm to 3:00 pm Break
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Writing for Social Media – Speaker TBD. Someone from OSU or some who writes for a consumer magazine/newspaper, etc.
4:00 pm Adjourn for the day.
4:15 pm Board bus and depart for Oklahoma City National Memorial Tour. Casual attire.
4:30 pm to 6:00 pm O.C. National Memorial
6:00 pm to 6:15 pm Board bus and head to the heart of Bricktown for dinner at Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse.
6:15 pm to 8:30 pm Dinner at Mickey Mantle’s
8:30 pm Go back to the hotel or visit the Bricktown area.

Friday, March 22, 2013

7:15 am to 7:45 am Continental Breakfast – Garden Room
7:45 am to 9:00 am ARC Annual Business Meeting – Garden Room
9:20 am to 9:30 am Board bus for OKC Ag tours. Meet in hotel lobby, bus leaves at 9:30 am.
9:50 am to 3:30 pm Oklahoma City Ag Tour: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Express Ranches (including lunch).
9:50 am to 11:30 am National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum tour –
11:30 a.m. Depart Museum for Express Ranches
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Lunch at Express Ranches Clydesdale barn
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm Express Ranches tour –
2:30 pm Board bus to Wheeler Brothers Feed Lot tour
2:30 pm to 3:30 pm Wheeler Brothers Feed Lot tour
3:30 pm Board bus for hotel
4:00 p.m. Return to Colcord hotel
4:30 pm to 6:00 pm Break before evening awards banquet
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Reception – 50th SE South, Devon Energy Center, top floor
7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Golden ARC Awards Dinner and Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony – 50th SE South, Deveon Energy Center, top floor 
                   Saturday, March 23, 2013 
      Attendees return home or stay the weekend.                             THANK YOU!




After re-instituting the Golden ARC Awards three years ago, the Golden ARC awards will award the best of work from 2012 at the 2013 meeting in Oklahoma City.

Amy McDonald, program manager, encourages folks to begin looking at their best 2012 work. The program entries in 2012 were up to 71, an increase from 59 in 2011. Entries were just 38 in 2010, the first year of the re-established Golden ARC program.  Deadline for the contest is Jan. 31. Elsewhere in this newsletter there’s an update from Amy on the 2013 program.  For more details go to



The ARC Board of Directors created the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame to recognize the pioneers of ag public relations last year. Two honorees were chosen for the inaugural class: Don Lerch, a founding member of ARC; and Lyle Orwig, co-founder and current CEO of Charleston│Orwig. Lerch and Orwig were inducted during ARC’s annual meeting last March in Charleston, S.C.

Sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine and ARC, the Friday evening program will honor new inductees who brought prominence to public relations in the agribusiness field.

An update on the nominees will also be found elsewhere in this issue of ARC Light.



For the third year, ARC will encourage student registrations at a special registration price of $150 offered to students – less than one-half the normal registration cost.

The organization also is excited that it earned a net of about $1,750 at the Silent Auction at AMS. A similar amount is provided back to AMS for allowing ARC to conduct its auction at the meeting. This excitement is fueled by hopes to someday in the near future (when the finances for ARC are solidified) to take that money and put it directly in the ARC Foundation and use it for scholarships or an internship program (which was done until about a half-dozen years ago or more). More details to be determined by the ARC board in the future.

Please check the ARC website for additional details. We look forward to having, once again as one ARC member puts it: ‘a professionally intimate’ event that brings out the best of and in ARC members and guests.



OKCMemoriallogo.webAs the largest city in Oklahoma and the nation’s 29th largest city, Oklahoma City is a growing metropolis. The city boosters say this about their home: “Cool city. Warm hospitality. It’s why we call Oklahoma City ‘Cool & Warm.’ Oklahoma City’s hip, spirited environment blends with its deep western heritage, creating an exciting destination steeped in culture and adventure. With renowned festivals, national sporting events, treasure-filled museums and a variety of districts highlighting arts and entertainment, the possibilities for fun in Oklahoma City are endless.’

And the American Museum of Banjos to boot!



The Sooner State has about 86,000 farmers. Winter wheat, hay, corn for grain, peanuts and pecans are the top Oklahoma crops. You might find these statistics interesting:

• Hay is a good crop to grow on land that is rolling and steep. These lands would erode away if they were tilled for row crops. Native grass and alfalfa are the most popular kind of hay to grow.

• Oklahoma ranks 5th in the nation in the production of winter wheat, 5th in the production of pecans, 1st in the production of rye, 5th in the production of grain sorghum, 6th in peanuts, 22nd in peaches and 15th in watermelons.

• Oklahoma produced over 81.6 million bushels of winter wheat and 16,000 pounds of pecans in 2005. Oklahoma has 2.5 million cattle, 80,000 sheep, 5.65 million chickens, 2.35 million hogs and 150,142 horses.

• Oklahoma ranks 5th in the nation in cattle and calf production, 8th in hogs production and 17th in broiler production.

• Oklahoma beef cattle, hogs and sheep produce 3.22 billion pounds of meat per year.

• Oklahoma poultry produce 933 million eggs per year.

Watch for more information from ARC in the near future on the program for the meeting. For more information please contact the ARC office at 952/758-5811 and ask for Den or Barb. (Click Here for ARC.RegistrationForm.OKC.doc)


Membership Update

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC Membership Chair

In 2012 ARC saw an exciting increase in its membership, exceeding our ambitious goal of 100 members well before the end of the year. This was great news, but now the second renewal notice has been sent out, and only a few renewals have trickled in. At the time of writing this article, only 23 ARC members have renewed. It’s easy to put things on the back burner when times get busy, but please remember to renew your ARC membership today.

On a brighter note, we have 10 new ARC members! I’d like to welcome Spencer Anderson, Weber Shandwick; Ron Arp, Amplify Group Inc.; Kim Essex, Ketchum; Mary Ellen Fricke, Illinois Farm Bureau; Tom Gahm, FLM+; Paige Graham, Ketchum; Kathy Mathers, The Fertilizer Institute; Heather McElrath, National Grain and Feed Association; Michael Whelan, FCUSA and Bill Zucker, Ketchum. We look forward to working with these new members and having them get involved in our organization. New people bring innovative ideas and ARC loves innovative ideas whether it’s for workshops, meetings, contests or membership recruitment.

Remember, ARC offers great rates for each additional person from a company who joins ARC, and there are membership recruitment incentives, as well.

Not to be repetitive, but….don’t let your membership to ARC fall through the cracks. If you haven’t renewed, do sotoday. You will find an application online at You can fill out the membership application and email it to or mail with payment to: ARC, PO Box 156, New Prague, MN 56071.


Agricultural Relations Council Issues Call for Golden ARC Award Entries: Deadline is January 31, 2013

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) has issued a “call for entries” for the 2013 Golden ARC awards. The annual competition includes 36 categories for agricultural public relations activities conducted in full or partially in the year 2012.

Entries in the 2013 Golden ARC awards are due to contest headquarters on or before January 31, 2013 at 5 p.m. Early entries postmarked by December 31, 2012 will receive a $25 discount per entry.

The Golden ARC awards contest honors the stellar work created by professionals in the agricultural industry. Reinstituted in 2010, the Golden ARC Contest since has recognized 58 Golden ARC winners, 49 merit award winners and one Golden ARC de Excellence award recipient.

The format and requirements for the Golden ARC awards are similar to other leading PR awards programs, based on best practices for public relations and public affairs campaigns and tactics.

Categories fall into two divisions – Campaigns and Tactics. A student category is also available, free to student ARC members. The 36 categories reflect the broad scope of public relations and public affairs activities today, including campaigns and a range of tactics, from traditional media releases to social media. The Golden ARC de Excellence award for the best all-around entry in the campaigns division will also be awarded.

The contest is open to both ARC and non-ARC members. The entry fee for the first entry for non-ARC members is $350 (includes a membership fee). Additional entries are $150 each if received on or before December 31, 2012, entries will go up to $175 thereafter.

The winners will receive their honors at the ARC annual meeting, March 20-22, 2013 in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Golden ARC Awards Program began in 1990 and came to be recognized as the most esteemed award in the agricultural public relations industry. The restructured Contest reflects the many hats worn by today’s PR practitioner – with categories recognizing everything from full campaigns to tactics such as media relations and innovative new uses of social media. More information is available at or at the ARC website,


Applications Due Jan. 15 for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame

Nominations are due Jan. 15 for the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, an award program honoring agricultural public relations professionals who have made lifetime contributions to the industry.

The program, sponsored by the Agricultural Relations Council and Agri Marketing magazine, will recognize its second group of recipients at the March 2013 ARC annual meeting in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Nominees must be current or past members of ARC to be considered. Inductees will be selected based on criteria including:

  • Years of membership in ARC;
  • Service to ARC (president, board member, committee chair, etc.);
  • Professional accomplishments/achievements in ag communications; and
  • Awards/Recognition in service to ag communications within ARC and also outside of the organization.

“We had a tremendous launch of the Hall of Fame in March of this year and another stellar class of honorees will be inducted in Oklahoma City in less than three months,” said ARC Board President Mace Thornton, of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “This is the single-best opportunity for the industry to recognize the professionals who’ve shaped agricultural public relations.”

Two honorees were chosen for the inaugural class: Don Lerch, now retired and a founding member of ARC; and Lyle Orwig, co-founder and current CEO of Charleston│Orwig. Lerch and Orwig were inducted during ARC’s annual meeting last March in Charleston, S.C.

For 2013, up to two inductees will be chosen. Nominations will be reviewed and chosen by a committee of ARC members.

“We hope all members of the agricultural communications community will consider nominating a deserving individual,” said ARC Hall of Fame committee chair Deron Johnson, of Pfizer Animal Health. “Recognition of this type not only honors the individual, but validates all of the professionals who work in agricultural public relations every day.”

For additional questions, please call the ARC office at: 952/758-5811. Or review the nomination form (Click Here)on the ARC web site at: E-mail ARC at


Calendar of Events

January 15, 2013
ARC Ag PR Hall of Fame
Nomination deadline for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame

January 31, 2013
Golden ARC Award Contest
Submission deadline of Golden ARC Award entries.
 Early entries postmarked by December 31, 2012 will receive a $25 discount per entry. 

March 20-22, 2013
ARC Annual Meeting
Colcord Hotel
Fifteen N. Robinson Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102


ARC/AMS Silent Auction Goals Hope to “Just Wing It!” as Meeting Heads for Buffalo, NY

By Den Gardner,
Executive Director

It’s natural that this year’s Ag Media Summit, set for Buffalo, NY, in August, would find a way to include the ever popular “Buffalo Wild Wings” in its theme. So, as we enter our fifth annual Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)/Ag Media Summit (AMS) silent auction, we’re going to “Just Wing It!” this year. Well maybe not.

We actually hope to surpass previous goals in raising money for ag communications programs for our future young leaders (featuring ACT students attending the meeting). Last year’s auction raised $3,800 and the net profits were split between ARC and AMS.

Once again ARC staffer Barb Ulschmid will help coordinate the auction with support from ARC board members. Last year all board members contributed to the auction. This year ARC is setting a goal of getting 25 percent of its members to donate something for the auction.

The auction annually raises about $4,000.  Last year’s auction included items contributed by almost 40 individuals and organizations.

Typical items featured in the auction include food baskets, autographed books, artwork, western jewelry, wearables and a variety of collectibles.

Members and friends of ARC are encouraged to contribute items (minimum value: $50) to this year’s auction. Donation commitments are due by Aug. 1 and items will be sent directly to the AMS Hotel in Buffalo. Details on sending your items will be available as we get into the summer of 2013.

For donors who are unsure what to contribute, the ARC staff will accept cash donations with which we will buy some “local-flavored” items for the auction. Donors will receive full credit for the item, including paperwork declaring the donation as tax-deductible.

For more details and to make a donation, contact Barb Ulschmid/Den Gardner (ARC staff) at (952) 758-5811 or email them at

Thanks in advance for your support – and let’s “just wing it” in 2013!


New ARC Members 1st Quarter 2013

ARC welcomes the following new members:
Spencer Anderson, Weber Shandwick
Ron Arp, Amplify Group Inc.
Kim Essex, Ketchum
Mary Ellen Fricke, Illinois Farm Bureau
Tom Gahm, FLM+
Paige Graham, Ketchum
Kathy Mathers, The Fertilizer Institute
Heather McElrath, National Grain and Feed Association
Michael Whelan, FCUSA
Bill Zucker, Ketchum

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