Posted by: Kristy on July 23, 2014

Posted in: Newsletter, Uncategorized

A Mad Time in Madtown!

By Mike Opperman

ARC Board President                                        

Last month was a big month for the Ag Relations Council. The annual meeting in Madison continued the year-over-year growth of that event with great attendance, thought-provoking speakers, informative tours and a spectacular Golden ARC awards and Hall of Fame ceremony. It was great to have the “regulars” participate (you know who you are) but it was even more refreshing to see the number of new faces in the crowd, indicative of a bright and growing future for ARC.

The meeting exemplified the real-time enthusiasm for this organization. At the annual meeting your board took steps to make sure that enthusiasm translates into strength and growth well into the future through review and refinement of a strategic plan. The plan starts with the identification of a Core Value—Fostering Professional Development—that captures the essence of what ARC is about. We also outlined five-year goals for the organization, in addition to strategies to help guide tactical executions that will help us realize that value.

To bring you greater professional development opportunities, we will continue to grow engagement through the ARC website. This will be the foundation for ARC news, but also a center for professional development resources. We will also conduct four webinars throughout the year on topics relevant to ag public relations professionals. Our social media engagement will grow as we look for new opportunities to interact with members and others in ag. And the Golden ARC and Hall of Fame programs will continue to grow as we recognize today’s professionals and the dedicated leaders that helped establish ARC. If you have additional ideas on how we can provide you with the tools and resources you need to grow in your profession, please let us know.

ARC has a bright future, but it’s only as bright as we all collectively make it. I look forward to working with all of you to continue the growth of this great organization.


We Are Family – ARC Holds Largest Annual Meeting in Five Years in Madison  Den at ARC

By Den Gardner

Executive Director


From nearly extinction five years ago, the Ag Relations Council is back – with membership well past 100, a new web site, the largest Golden ARC program in years, two new inductees into the Ag PR Hall of Fame, a soon-to-be released strategic plan and much more.

Yet, despite all this, the best part of all is that the membership intimacy that was always a hallmark of ARC is back – with an incredible combination of the savvy PR veterans of this industry, along with a new crop of PR practitioners ready to make their mark in agriculture.

As one member aptly put it: “We are family. Again.” Sly and Family Stone couldn’t have said it better.

Or maybe they could have? I felt “Hot Fun in the Summertime” might have been another perfect example of what the Madison meeting meant to the attendees. As summer was in its first few days, these lyrics just kept playing in my head: “End of the spring and here she comes back – hi, hi, hi, hi there. Them summer days, those summer days. That’s when I had most of my fun back – hi, hi, hi, hi there.”

Well, you get the picture. Thanks to an excellent program constructed by committee members Mike Opperman, Darin Williams and Bob Giblin, a variety of professional development sessions (including an extra half-day to the program), combined with a day of tours through the Wisconsin landscape resulted in a remarkable couple days.

You can see a photo montage of the meeting elsewhere in this newsletter. But here’s a capsule of the meeting and an update of the organization’s progress and where it’s going in the future.

  • Brandon Tidwell, formerly of Daren Restaurants, and Paul Pitas of Culvers spoke of food service perspectives from a sustainability level and how to use farmers in promotions and advertising to properly position them as leaders in food quality and environmental soundness.
  • Jen Walker, in charge of “dairy stewardship” at Dean Foods, spoke of the need for the various ag audiences to be advocates for the industry to consumers and admit there are challenges that must be met within all segments to properly tell the story of agriculture.
  • Carrie Mess (blogger known as “DairyCarrie” and Daren Williams of The Beef Checkoff spoke of messaging to consumers as it relates to certain restaurant chains which emphasize their “organic” credentials that may strain credibility. Carrie spoke through the eyes of a dairy farmer who emphasized honesty and a willingness to confront big issues in agriculture.
  • Joe Hansen of The Beef Checkoff focused on social media monitoring and how to use it to strengthen your company or association’s messaging to the public.
  • Bill Lubing of the Dane County Farmers’ Market (one of the nation’s largest) spoke of finding ways to better reach consumers with ag products and the importance of local production of food.
  • The tours were varied and impressive – from ABS to the International Crane Foundation to the U.S. Forage Research Center, and the Wollersheim Winery.
  • The evening reception and dinner was a nice combination of awarding ag communications excellence and the people who made ARC what it is today through the Hall of Fame – Richard Howell and Gary Myers. See separate stories elsewhere in the newsletter.


The ARC has accomplished much in the past year. Here’s a roundup of activity by its members and actions members can look for in the months ahead.

  • Revenue for the year will be about $55,500, with expenses about $55,000.
  • Budget goals were met in membership, corporate sponsorships, annual meeting attendees and the Golden ARC contest.
  • The organization was able to cash-flow through previous years’ surplus the cost for the new web site. The board had originally authorized use of ARC Foundation dollars to fund this effort.
  • And speaking of the foundation, the organization will resurrect its scholarship program in 2015 – providing one student a $1,500 scholarship for the fall of 2015.
  • The foundation will continue to ask for a $15/member donation to the foundation that’s part of membership renewal. There is an opt-out provision provided to members. All members in 2014 chose to contribute to the foundation. The board thanks our membership for this action.
  • And Hall of Famer Richard Howell challenged members to donate to the foundation with a $500 contribution. Several members in the audience pledged to match that amount. This will allow ARC to review its internship program and hopefully institute that program sometime in 2015 as well.
  • The ARC will continue to collaborate with the Ag Media Summit in conducting the silent auction. This raises more than $3,500 for youth programs.
  • ARC will work with NAMA on webinars and PR workshops at the spring NAMA conference like previous years.
  • ARC thanks its sponsors. Programming like those provided for this year’s meeting, wouldn’t be possible without this support. See the ARC web site for the list of our current partners.
  • Membership is at about 115. A committee will be organized, with liaison by board member Rebecca Colnar, to work on a goal of 200 members in the next five years.
  • The Golden ARC program had 74 entries – the best in five years. Efforts will continue to promote the contest and tweak categories as appropriate. Thanks to McDonald Marketing Communications (Amy and Addie), plus Bob Giblin for assistance. A PRSA chapter judges the entries each year.
  • The ARC meeting will be in Denver in 2015 – June 23-25 – at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Denver. The 2016 meeting will be in Minneapolis. Sacramento is the likely location for 2017.
  • The 2014-2015 ARC board is:


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

(Please note: Terms of office as board members are two-years, BUT board members can be re-elected to new two-year terms as often as they would like.)

Board Dinner at ARC 


The ARC Foundation Board Lineup for 2014-2015 is the same group.

  • Bob Giblin and Ken Gordon will focus on accreditation through PRSA in the coming months. If you as a member are interested in this process, please contact the ARC office at for more information. It is hopeful the program will get off the ground this fall.
  • The Strategic Plan will be approved and implemented for 2015. As part of the Strategic Plan, a system will be put into place where board members will either chair or be a liaison to the chair of various ARC committees.

Assignment of Board Chair or Liaison to various ARC Committees:

Daren Williams – Program chair, 2015

Mike Opperman – Program co-chair, 2015; also Nominating Committee Chair – joined by past president

and president-elect.

Mace Thornton – ARC Foundation

Rebecca Colnar – Membership (first duty to find a chairman for the committee)

Reggie Hall – Hall of Fame and other award programs aside from Golden ARC

Deron Johnson – Sponsorships with Den

John Blue – Publicity/Social Media

Amy McDonald – Golden ARC Awards


To see all the photos from our fabulous event, click here!




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


By Den Gardner

Executive Director


With stirring remarks from presenters and inductees, founding member Richard Howell and long-time PR leader Gary Myers were inducted into the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame at the ARC annual meeting in Madison in June. This is the third class of inductees since the program was instituted in 2012.

Howell and Myers joined 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.

“It has been my pleasure over the years to personally know and work with these honorees,” says Lynn Henderson, publisher/editorial director of Agri Marketing. “They are all outstanding and truly deserving of their induction into the Hall. We look forward to supporting this very worthy program for many years to come.”

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 retiring from MorganMyers in 2005, he served as an adjunct professor teaching public relations and communications at West Virginia University, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Carthage College (Kenosha, Wis.). He retired from teaching in 2013.


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. If you have a candidate for the Hall of Fame, please contact the ARC office at:


 2014 Golden ARC Awards Program a Success

By Amy McDonald

Golden ARC Program Manager

Paige Graham of Ketchum receiving the “Golden ARC de Excellence” from Mike Opperman

Paige Graham of Ketchum receiving the “Golden ARC de Excellence” from Mike Opperman

The 2014 Annual ARC meeting in Madison, WI ended on a high note with the Golden ARC Awards Contest. During the closing awards dinner on June 26, contest manager Amy Keith McDonald recognized the 20 Golden ARC winners and 22 Merit winners.

For the third straight year the Golden ARC de Excellence Award was awarded. This award was for the best all-around entry in the campaign division. The winner this year was for the public relations campaign, global communications entry “Zoetis Achieves Global Company Debut in Eight Months.” Ketchum was also awarded a Golden ARC Award for the entry.

On the client side, Zoetis not only acquired the highest award of the night but also received the largest quantity of Golden ARC Awards. Zoetis won four Golden ARC Awards, along with one Merit Award, recognizing work submitted by both Ketchum and Bader Rutter.

Agencies Ketchum and Broadhead tied for winning the most Golden ARC Awards, capturing three Golden ARC Awards and one Merit award per agency. Ketchum received awards on behalf of clients Zoetis and National Cattleman’s Beef Association, while winning submissions from Broadhead represented clients The Mosaic Company and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

For more information, visit or contact Amy Keith McDonald at 254-445-4333. A complete list of winners is listed below.

Begin thinking now of what you will enter in the 2015 Golden ARC Contest. The deadline will be announced in the fall to occur in early 2015, and the work entered must have been completed full or partially in 2014.


2014 Golden ARC Award Winners:


Category Program Conducted for… Winning Company
Campaigns Division – Organization or Corporate Reputation Zoetis Ketchum
Campaigns Division – Marketing Communications for Non-Agricultural Audiences USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Broadhead
Campaigns Division – Agricultural Image The Center for Food Integrity CMA
Campaigns Division – Issues Management DuPont Pioneer Weber Shandwick
Campaigns Division – Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Illinois Soybean Association CharlestonlOrwig
Campaigns Division – Global Communication Zoetis Ketchum
Campaigns Division – Public Affairs National Council of Farmer Cooperatives FLM+
Campaigns Division – Marketing Communications for Agricultural Audiences Propane Education & Research Council Swanson Russell
Campaigns Division – Internal CropLife America CropLife America
Tactics Division – Print Media Relations for Agricultural Audiences Farm Credit Services of America The Meyocks Group
Tactics Division – Annual Reports: Annual Financial Reports Farm Credit Services of America The Meyocks Group
Tactics Division – Print Publications: Single Issue Publications CropLife America CropLife America
Tactics Division – Video Programs Zoetis Bader Rutter
Tactics Division – Collateral/Literature DuPont Pioneer Weber Shandwick
Tactics Division – Feature Writing Merck Animal Health Osborn Barr
Tactics Division – Digital and Social Media: Websites Ohio Soybean Council FLM+
Tactics Division – Digital and Social Media: Other Innovative Use of Social Media The Mosaic Company Broadhead
Tactics Division – Digital and Social Media: Blogs The Mosaic Company Broadhead
Tactics Division – Special Events Zoetis Ketchum
Tactics Division – Speeches American Farm Bureau Federation American Farm Bureau Federation


Merit Award Winners:

Category Program Conducted For… Winning Company
Campaigns Division – Organization or Corporate Reputation The Mosaic Company Broadhead
Campaigns Division – Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Ketchum
Campaigns Division – Marketing Communications for Agricultural Audiences (tie) FMC Agricultural Solutions Swanson Russell
Campaigns Division – Marketing Communications for Agricultural Audiences (tie) Merck Animal Health Osborn Barr
Campaigns Division – Internal National Pork Board NewsWorks
Tactics Division – Media Relations: Print Media Relations – Agricultural Audiences (tie) Prince Agri Products Osborn Barr
Tactics Division – Media Relations: Print Media Relations – Agricultural Audiences (tie) Specialty Fertilizer Products FLM+
Tactics Division – Media Relations: Print Media Relations – Non Agricultural Audiences Illinois Soybean Association CharlestonlOrwig
Tactics Division – Media Relations: Media Events and News Conferences (tie) Zoetis Bader Rutter
Tactics Division – Media Relations: Media Events and News Conferences (tie) Case IH MorganMyers
Tactics Division – Video Programs CropLife America CropLife America
Tactics Division – Print Publications: Single Issue Publications United Soybean Board Osborn Barr
Tactics Division – Collateral/Literature (tie) Dow AgroSciences Bader Rutter
Tactics Division – Collateral/Literature (tie) Animal Agriculture Alliance Animal Agriculture Alliance
Tactics Division – Feature Writing Mycogen Seeds Bader Rutter
Tactics Division – Digital and Social Media: Blogs Merck Animal Health Swanson Russell
Tactics Division – Digital and Social Media: Other Innovative Use of Social Media Buckeye Nutrition Swanson Russell
Tactics Division – Special Events (tie) BASF BASF Crop Protection with PadillaCRT
Tactics Division – Special Events (tie) Mycogen Seeds Bader Rutter
Tactics Division – Special Events (tie) Vermeer Corporation Weber Shandwick
Tactics Division – Annual Reports: Corporate Social Responsibility Monsanto Paradowski
Tactics Division – Annual Reports: Non-Financial Annual Reports Center for Food Integrity CMA

Award Winners ARC









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, and approximately $2300 will go to the Ag Relations Council!

Check out the Silent Auction Catalog and plan your donation for next year’s auction in Scottsdale, AZ.



ARC Website Summer 2014 Updates

By John Blue

ARC Board Member


The ARC Website functionality, as outlined in February and April, are completed. This includes the ability to, online, register for the ARC Conference, start/renew your ARC membership, and gain access to the ARC membership directory.

Other resources of importance that continue to be part of the ARC website include the job listings and newsletters. These now are posted individually to support better sharing on social media.

During the annual meeting in Madison, the 2014 – 2015 webinar series was outlined. The first webinar will be Q4 2014 and titled “When activists have you up against the ropes“, presented by Reggie Hall, Director, Promotion and Education at SC Farm Bureau Federation. Additional webinar topics on the content planning calendar include “Social media monitoring: why you need to do it?“, “How do you develop a winning entry for a media, marketing, or pr award program?“, and “Perspective on judging awards programs; case study on the winner of the Golden ARC Awards Program.

The ARC content plan, developed to help support the update of the ARC new website, will continue to be refined. This content plan is a work in progress aimed at helping you, as an ARC member, gain the most value out of your membership. You are encouraged to participate in the development of this content plan by joining the DraftIn session edit process [link] and to contribute content ideas to the content editorial calendar [Google doc]. If you have topic ideas for a webinar or blog post, please send a note.

Interview – Bob Giblin – Getting Your “Accredited in Public Relations”

Are you interested in getting your Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential? Bob Giblin, Manager for Global Marketing and Communications for ABS Global, shares the steps ARC members can take to gain the APR accreditation through the program run by the Universal Accreditation Board. Bob recommends that ARC members, who want to make a commitment to best and ethical practices in public relations, can go through the program in about 6 months to 12 months. Learn more at Universal Accreditation Board.

This interview is from the 2014 Agriculture Public Relations Council annual meeting, June 24 – 27, 2014, Madison, WI, USA [audio].

Direct link to MP3 audio.

Jen Walker – Relationships of Animals, Farmers, Consumers, and Activists

Jen Walker with Dean Foods, shares her thoughts on dairy stewardship. She offers several stories that help people understand the relationship between farmers who produce milk , consumers, and activists. What is her message? Farmers need to be proactive, authentic, and honest; share the truth, not the stories.

This presentation is from the 2014 Agriculture Public Relations Council annual meeting, June 24 – 27, 2014, Madison, WI, USA [audio].

Direct link to MP3 audio.



ARC Membership Update

By Rebecca Colnar

ARC Membership Chair

The board of the Agricultural Relations Council was thrilled to see new faces at the ARC Annual Conference in Madison, WI. We have seen an increase in new members due to motivated board members and others who believe in the value of belonging to ARC. We are attracting quality members who bring a realm of experience to this one-of-a-kind (kind, not king) organization. One of the real perks of belonging to ARC is the networking; the more members there are to network with, the increased value there is to your membership. Whether you need some advice on a strategy or are looking for a new career challenge, ARC members provide support.

I’m happy ARC is moving forward to add other value to your membership. Our website renovations are completed and the user-friendly website offers everything from on-line membership renewals and conference registration to a job bank to excellent articles and videos. (See newsletter article by John Blue.) In addition, at our June board meeting, not only did we discuss webinars, we developed topics and assigned presenters. Look for our webinars to start soon for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

I am looking for a few people to serve on our Membership Committee. Committee members surface new members as well as remind members to renew. Drop me an email if you are interested in serving on the Membership Committee:

ARC exists for its members, so please let me know any suggestions you may have to make our organization increasingly valuable.

Have a great summer.



New ARC Members, Third Quarter 2014WELCOME!

Mike Borschow,

Carie Breunig, Nelson Schmidt

Bob Conrad, APR

Mark Crouser, CMA

Steve Davidson, IDEAg Group LLC

Maureen Degnan, FLM+

Malorie Drugg, Broadhead

Deborah Dugan, Osborn Barr

Susan Duncomb, Weber Shandwick

Ethan Giebel, Accelerated Genetics

Claire Haupt, Bader Rutter

Natalie Hoover, Broadhead

Cheri Johnson, Weber Shandwick

Laura Kubitz, The Fertilizer Institute

Krysta Larson, Weber Shandwick

Emily Meredith, American Agriculture Alliance

Gary Myers, Gary Myers Associates

Pam Molitor, Syngenta

Megan Pierce, Filament Marketing

Lauren Prettyman, SC Farm Bureau Federation

Kelsey Scanlan, BASF

Natalie Slyman, Paradowski

Abby Strawder, CMA

Allsion Szeliga, Ketchum

Dave Vincent, Osborn Barr

Jordanne Waldschmidt, Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Janine Whipps, Morgan Myers


 Sun Flowers ARC







Summer Calendar of Events

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



July 28-29, 2014

ARC/AMS Silent Auction

July 28: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

July 29: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


June 24-26, 2015

ARC Annual Meeting

The Magnolia Hotel

Denver, Colorado

The End




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