To reach a larger audience with pro-agriculture messages, Nebraska Farm Bureau has engaged several student members to become part of The Crew. In return for sharing their passion about agriculture and Farm Bureau on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, members of The Crew receive specialized training to prepare them for their roles, current and future.

Launched in 2015, The Crew is primarily run by Audrey Schipporeit, NEFB director of general engagement, and Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education for the Foundation. Cassie Hoebelheinrich, communication coordinator, also works with the group.

NEFB Crew participants are selected from NEFB’s student members, who range in age from 16 to 23. Ten new Crew members are chosen each spring and participate for one year.

This “army of advocates,” as Schaardt calls The Crew, supports and amplifies messages from the Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Foundation. Serving as social media advocacy leaders for their generation, participants are expected to create original content to deliver accurate agriculture messages and participate in learning sessions facilitated by industry professionals.

During their year-long experience, Crew members, who come from across the state, work toward a series of milestones centered on social media sharing. In addition, they write two blog posts each for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Farm Meets Fork blog and attend “field days” during which they gain hands-on ag communication experience and learn real-world applications of communication practices.

“The Crew members have to do a set amount of social media sharing each month, but in a change from previous years, they don’t have to post across all social media platforms more and more each month. During the first month they identify the platform they’re most comfortable with, and we allow them to use that one going forward,” explained Schipporeit.

The Crew has a special members-only Facebook page through which they can update Nebraska Farm Bureau staff and fellow Crew members as they work toward their milestones. Schaardt and Schipporeit, in turn, can let The Crew know about upcoming field days, trainings and blog post responsibilities. Using free tools like Facebook to run the program helps keep costs down, noted Schipporeit.

To see for yourself what The Crew has been up to, check out #neagcrew on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Crew garnered Nebraska Farm Bureau a 2017 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation.