Posted by: Kristy on September 18, 2014

Posted in: Newsletter, Uncategorized, Updates

Are You Ready for some ARC?

By Mike Opperman

ARC Board President                                        


It’s fall! The leaves are turning. The lights are on Friday night and Saturday at athletic fields across the country. Harvest will be here before you know it!

It may be around Oct. 1, but for ARC members that means the start of the 2015 fiscal year. And if 2015 is anything like 2014, get ready for another spectacular year for our organization.

As we look ahead for 2015, know this:

Your board of directors is ready to meet the challenges of ag public relations and ARC:

  • Mike Opperman, President
  • Mace Thornton, Past President
  • Daren Williams, First Vice President
  • Rebecca Colnar, Second Vice President
  • Reggie Hall, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Deron Johnson, Director
  • Amy Keith McDonald, Director
  • John Blue, Director

For 2015, a quick look at what you can expect:

  1. Our revenue estimates will be the highest in five years. Why? Because we’re well over 100 members, our corporate sponsors are renewing their support, the Golden ARC contest we hope will set another record for entries and our annual meeting in Denver (with last year’s meeting in Madison the highest in five years) will provide troughs full of professional development.
  2. And there’s more. We will have at least four webinars on varying topics for ag PR professionals.
  3. The ARC Foundation is back up and running. It now has its own board of directors. We will provide a $1,500 scholarship this year for a student studying ag PR. And in the next couple years we hope to re-establish our internship program. Thanks to all those members and Hall of Fame members who have contributed to the foundation fund. And to all of you, who provide a $15 contribution to the foundation when you renew your membership.
  4. We will begin to implement our new ARC Strategic Plan – a plan geared toward meeting the needs of our members – focusing on professional development, building on the camaraderie so important to our jobs every day.
  5. If you attended our annual meeting in Madison, you noticed plenty of the new generation of PR professionals. Time for some of us “veteran” members to turn leadership positions of the organization over to what we used to call the “young flying tigers.” Let us know what role YOU can play in the new ARC.
  6. Our Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, an exclusive program of ARC and sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine, is now three years old and has recognized:
  • Don Lerch
  • Lyle Orwig
  • John Harvey
  • Paul Weller
  • Richard Howell
  • Gary Myers

One or two additional members will be inducted in 2015.

  1. We have doubled our membership in four years – to 113 members. You are ARC and we need you active and involved to keep your board and committee chairs relevant in today’s world of ag communications 24/7. Help us get to the next level of 200 members in five years. Ask us if you can join our membership committee.
  2. Not only did our Golden ARC awards program set a new record for entries last year, but for 2015 you can look for a new software platform that will allow us to manage the entire contest online. We’re excited and you’ll see lots of information on this in the next several months.
  3. Our collaborations with other ag organizations continues as well. We will execute a webinar with NAMA in December and continue to work with the Ag Media Summit organization for the silent auction again in 2015 in Scottsdale. And we continue to work with ACT in enlightening students studying ag communications about what careers are available in this industry.
  4. The annual meeting at the Magnolia Hotel in Denver June 23-25 is headed by board members Daren Williams and me. If you have professional workshop ideas, please send them his way. We hope to see you there.
  5. We are determined to get our PRSA accreditation program underway in 2015. Bob Giblin and Ken Gordon have agreed to head this effort. We’ve already had one inquiry from a member on getting the program started this fall.
  6. Finally, we’re beginning to get our 50+ years of archives organized. Our executive director Den Gardner will be making a trip to the University of Illinois in November to investigate housing ARC archives on a permanent basis in Champaign.

ARC is vibrant and aggressively moving forward. So, you better be ready for some ARC!


2015 ARC Meeting Set for Denver!

ARC Annual Meeting June 23-25 at Magnolia Hotel


Den New OrleansBy Den Gardner

Executive Director


It’s difficult not to think about John Denver, the song Rocky Mountain High, ARC and the 2015 meeting in Denver all in one thought process. Then, there’s a line that even reminds one of ARC membership:

Now his life is full of wonder But his heart still knows some fear Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend

Although Denver was speaking about himself, all ARC members’ lives are full of wonder, and don’t we all have some fear. But most importantly, I know plenty of things I can’t comprehend. Maybe a few of you feel the same?

But enough of Denver and Denver. Although the 2015 annual meeting is still nine months off, work is beginning on the June meeting in downtown Denver at the Magnolia Hotel, according to ARC Board President Mike Opperman and this year’s host President-Elect Daren Williams.

“We made a great decision last year to hold our ARC meeting in the summer,” says Opperman. “Our attendance in Madison was the highest in five years. We are very excited about our Denver location.”

In keeping with an ARC tradition to move the meeting around to different parts of the country, the organization also is announcing that the 2016 meeting is set for June in downtown Minneapolis. More on that meeting in future months.

Fall in DenverThe change to a summer meeting also resulted in a format change, resulting in more professional development, as another half-day of additional programming for its members was inserted. This will continue in Denver. “We’re meeting the needs of our members,” he adds.

For those members looking for more professional development, the format for the meeting will be similar to the 2014 meeting:

Tuesday, June 23 – Board meeting and dinner. (Any members are allowed to attend board meeting.)

Wednesday, June 24 – Registration at 8:30 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Meetings will run throughout the day. ARC business meeting will conclude the day of professional development.

Thursday, June 25 – Denver-area farm/ranch/agribusiness tours. 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.

Williams, senior executive director, communications, for NCBA, notes that there are a number of tours are in the early stages of investigation, including the JBS Five Rivers feedyard in nearby Greeley, and Oskar Blues Brewery (Colorado is famous for being known as the “NAPA Valley of Beer.”

Professional development workshops may feature a crisis communications panel, a speaker representing the Colorado marijuana industry and the multitude of communications challenges faced by this new venture in capitalism, and much more.

So, mark your calendars for Denver on June 23-25, 2015, at the Magnolia Hotel. ARC members will get a rate of just $185 per night.

Do you want to be on the program committee for 2015? Please contact Mike Opperman ( or Darin Williams ( Opperman and Williams are chairing the program committee.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting the ARC meeting in our home state,” says Williams. “Colorado is rich in agricultural history and production and ARC members will find our state enticing from so many aspects.”

The Magnolia DenverSo, to close, some quick facts about Colorado agriculture:

  • There are 36,200 farms in the state encompassing 31 million acres.
  • Colorado’s farm cash receipts for 2010 totaled $6 billion. Livestock products accounted for 63%.
  • Agriculture continues to be a vital part of Colorado’s future, providing more than 170,000 jobs and contributing more than $40 billion to the state’s economy annually.
  • Colorado farmers and ranchers help to feed the world, exporting $1 billion in products. Mexico, Canada, Japan and Taiwan receive the largest share of Colorado food products.
  • The array of products grown in Colorado is staggering. Farmers have diversified to grow grapes, oats, sunflowers, mushrooms and Anasazi beans.
  • Ranchers also have diversified to raise fish (aquaculture), bison, ostrich, elk and emu.

See you next summer in Denver!


Golden ARC Awards Contest Judged by Public Relations Strategists

Recognizes Stellar Strategy and Results

By Amy Keith McDonald, Golden ARC Program Co-Manager

The award season is upon us, and you will soon receive invitations to enter and/or judge a competition within agriculture. Such an opportunity is valuable in terms of professional growth, but do you sometimes wonder how your work, both strategic and tactical, would hold up when evaluated by public relations professionals’ external to the agricultural industry? The Golden ARC Awards Contest provides the perfect opportunity for you to do just that.

The 2015 Golden ARC Awards Contest will be announced in winter 2014-2015, for work completed partly or fully in 2014. Early bird registrants will be offered lowered entry fees. All entries will be judged by impartial judges in the spring of 2015, and winners will be announced at the awards banquet during the ARC Annual Meeting, to be held June 23-25 in Denver, CO. Golden ARC winners will have the opportunity to join the ARC Hall of Fame honorees on stage during this important event.

Repurpose Your Entries

Much of the preparation you may be doing regarding your excellent strategic campaign and tactical work during 2014 for other contests will likely be easily transferable to an entry for the Golden ARC Awards Contest. Thus, keep your files handy and do the work once instead of twice. If you would like to compare other competitions’ guidelines to those of the Golden ARC Awards program, go to to see the wide range of public relations campaigns and tactics recognized.

Also new for 2015 is a likely move to an entirely online entry platform for the contest. Details to come in the next month.

Additional information can be obtained by calling Amy Keith McDonald or Adelita Tyson, the Golden ARC Awards Contest managers, at 254-445-4333, or by visiting the website.



Farmer Social Media







How Are Farmers & Ranchers Using Social Media?

By John Blue

ARC Board Member

Yes, farmers are using social media. How and why will vary. Several surveys and their results are available to help you in planning your next public relations campaign.

* link:



When Activists Have You Up Against the Ropes – Come Out Swinging

ARC will provide members with at least four communications webinars for its members and others in the next year. The first one, taken from a case study with South Carolina Farm Bureau (SCFB), is Oct. 23 and it will feature a water rights case study – social media use to influence legislation.

In December 2013 real time media reports over the first time use of a new South Carolina surface water withdraw law designed to protect and preserve water resources created a firestorm of anti-ag / anti-farm comments in traditional and social media, said Reggie Hall of SCFB (and ARC board member).

The organization launched a social media campaign that quashed legislative attempts to repeal the law, turned the tide in public option, and grew the SCFB Facebook likes to 14,000 from 1,000 in six months. Learn what was done and what issues developed as the legislative process moved along.












Michael Rentiers, Managing Partner for Push Advocacy                      

Reginald Hall, SC Farm Bureau Federation’s Promotion and Education Division Director and ARC Board Member

When: October 23, 1pm to 2pm ET

Where: webinar is on line.

This webinar is provided at no cost to current ARC members.

Non-members may also attend for $35.00. Register at

Registered attendees will receive the webinar link information via email.



Applications Due March 15 for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame

Nominations are due March 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 fourth group of recipients at the June 2015 ARC annual meeting in Denver, CO.

Previous winners have been:

  • Don Lerch
  • Lyle Orwig
  • John Harvey
  • Paul Weller
  • Richard Howell
  • Gary Myers

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 response to our Hall of Fame award program and another stellar class of honorees will be inducted in Denver next June,” said ARC Board President Mike Opperman. “This is the single-best opportunity for the industry to recognize the professionals who’ve shaped agricultural public relations.”

For 2015, 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 Reggie Hall, of South Carolina Farm Bureau. “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. The 2015 nomination form will be on the web site soon at: Or E-mail ARC at for more information.


Help ARC Keep Growing – Renewals for 2015 to be Sent Out by Oct. 1

By Rebecca Colnar

ARC Membership Chair

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) started the summer with an excellent annual conference and a surge of new members. As we move into the last quarter of 2014, ARC membership is hovering around 116. This has exceeded our 100 member goal. It’s great to see that 17 of those members are officers or state chapter presidents of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). The more diverse our membership is—marketing agencies, corporations, associations, organizations and freelance shops—the stronger the value of that membership. ARC is a wonderful melting pot of a variety of people and skills in everything from large corporations to sole proprietorships. What our members have in common is a zeal for excellence in promoting and communicating agriculture to various audiences.

When you look at our website, you’ll see how far the organization has come since ARC rose like a Phoenix from the flames six years ago. To keep growing, however, the organization needs ARC advocates who will go out, spread the word and find new members. Have your colleagues and contacts who are not yet ARC members visit our website and see why ARC is the only true organization for public relations professionals.

The ARC board is currently working on developing more value to your membership, including meaningful webinars and a new, interactive website. It’s important that we keep ARC growing. The organization has risen from the ashes and the positive energy and motivation to make ARC thrive must be maintained. We encourage all current members to recruit at least one other member to the Agricultural Relations Council. Let your colleagues know the value of belonging—the great networking, excellent annual conference and the professional development. For companies who want multiple employees to join ARC, we have developed a laddered membership offer that will provide a significant cost savings.

The laddered membership program works like this:

Member #1 — $190*

Member #2 and beyond — $115*

*A fully tax-deductible contribution of $15 is included for the ARC Foundation that will assist ag PR students in industry-related professional development. If you prefer not to contribute, please notify the ARC office at 952-758-5811.

There has never been a better time to join ARC. If you have additional questions, just give me a call at 307-673-4525 or shoot me an email at  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. Or you can complete your online membership and payment at

Let’s keep adding quality members to our roster and make our organization the best in the ag communications industry.


ARC Auction







ARC Silent Auction at Ag Media Summit a success!

By Kristy Mach

Donations for the Ag Relations Council Silent Auction at the Ag Media Summit were the most we’ve ever received.  All of our ARC board members have donated to the silent auction – which benefits youth programs put on by ARC and AMS.

Travel, jewelry, sports tickets, techie items were all bid on – 66 items in all – and approximately $4500 was raised!

Check out the silent auction catalog  and plan your donation for next year’s auction in Scottsdale, AZ.


Fall What








Fall Calendar of Events

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


December 31, 2014

Golden ARC Contest Early Bird Deadline


January 31, 2015

Golden ARC Contest Final Deadline


March 15, 2015

Applications Due for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame 


June 23-25, 2015

ARC Annual Meeting

The Magnolia Hotel

Denver, Colorado



New ARC Members, Fourth Quarter 2014

Carly Barnes, Ketchum






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