February 9, 2023 at 4:58 p.m.

Telling agriculture’s story

Stangler embraces ag communications as National ACT president
The podcast “Positivity in Ag” is a series of short episodes that Michelle Stangler launched in January. The podcast features short stories on a variety of topics and people in the agriculture community.    PHOTO SUBMITTED
The podcast “Positivity in Ag” is a series of short episodes that Michelle Stangler launched in January. The podcast features short stories on a variety of topics and people in the agriculture community. PHOTO SUBMITTED

By Danielle Nauman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

RIVER FALLS, Wis. – The experience of watching her family sell their cows led Michelle Stangler to the realization that becoming a storyteller of agriculture was the profession she wanted to pursue.
“Growing up on a small dairy farm is so much a part of who I am,” Stangler said. “Not only did I learn all the life lessons of work ethic and leadership, I was able to surround myself with the community of agriculture. I want to be able to share all of that as a storyteller.”
Stangler grew up on her family’s 50-cow dairy farm near Watertown and is now in her junior year at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she is pursuing a double major in agriculture marketing communications and journalism.
Stangler is serving as the president for the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. National ACT is a student professional development organization for those interested in agricultural communications with more than 400 members nationwide. The group provides networking opportunities for its members and hosts contests for members to gain feedback on various projects they pursue.
“I had the opportunity to first become involved with ACT as an individual member in the national organization by attending the Ag Media Summit,” Stangler said. “I felt inspired by my experiences. I have gotten so much out of my involvement and really gained a great support system and network of people from all over the country.”
Much like sharing the story of agriculture, Stangler is using her year as National ACT’s president to share the story of the organization and what it has added to her own professional development.
Her enthusiasm for what she has gained as a National ACT member led Stangler to bring the benefits of the organization to her own college campus as part of the campus’s newly created Agricultural and Natural Resources Communications Club, where she also serves as president.
“There is really a growing need in the agricultural community for people to have access to the resources that allow them to develop their own voice as agricultural communicators,” Stangler said. “Sometimes it can feel difficult to step into that role of communicating the story of agriculture. It can be really hard to develop the support system that helps you grow as a communicator.”
Stangler said the best advice she can give to someone wanting to help share the true story of agriculture is to start with what they know best: telling their own personal experiences.
Taking any opportunity to join with like-minded individuals to grow and share experiences is another thing Stangler recommends. She is an active member of the UW-River Falls Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter and has spent a great deal of time working with the organization’s Ag Day on Campus.
As part of creating her own niche in agricultural storytelling, Stangler launched a daily podcast called “Positivity in Ag” where she focuses on a wide variety of topics and people pertinent in agriculture through a series of short segments that run four minutes in length.                                       
“I saw a gap that was missing in podcasts,” Stangler said. “I’m a member of Generation Z and recognize, typically, we have a short attention span before we are on to something new. Four minutes seems enough to be engaging without losing that audience.”
Broadcast journalism is an area that draws Stangler’s interest, and she works with the UW-River Falls campus radio station. She also writes for agricultural publications and has held numerous internships working in various aspects of agricultural communications.
“Broadcasting really appeals to me,” Stangler said. “I love interviewing people and sharing the story of agriculture from that perspective. A dream of mine would be to have an ag segment on an urban television newscast.”


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