Michele Payn-Knoper Earns Certified Speaking Professional Designation

Today I have a medal hanging around my neck. Not the Olympic medal of my youthful aspirations, but the only designation that’s available to professional speakers, known as the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). I feel a little ridiculous telling you about my excitement in achieving this professional goal, yet several people asked for more of the “personal” blogs after my  “Transparency” posting.  Since there are very few of my colleagues in the National Speakers Association who understand agriculture, I never felt comfortable sharing a lot of details about my work in the past.

This changed last March when I was at a social media training with other small business owners and the person leading knew about my passion for giving a voice to farmers. He prodded me into open up and share why I do what I do, including the rundown of misinformation spread by PETA, HSUS and environmentalist terrorists. This turned into a discussion about the realities of today’s farming and that picturesque farms have changed – the same as the rest of society.  While we were still at the training, a few people commented that it was  was eye opener –  that it made sense , but I figured most of my colleagues didn’t care. Much to my surprise, I received several notes afterwards, thanking me for bringing agriculture’s perspective, as people rarely stop to evaluate misinformation or consider the farmer’s perspective. I was ashamed to realize that I hadn’t consistently leveraged the opportunity to discuss the need for ag advocacy amongst my colleagues.

Why am I sharing this with you? It was a lesson that I need to be walking my talk, even in the speaking profession. We all know the statistics of how few people are actively engaged in farming – it takes EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to “talk agriculture” in our professional circles. You never know when you’ll give someone a nugget that will change the way they look at food production or act as a defense mechanism when anti-ag groups attack. I had one of the attendees from the March workshop stop me in the hallway yesterday to tell me that he’s thought of the dairy farm economic crisis every time he buys milk – because of the information I shared. This lesson has continued to be reinforced as several of my speaker buddies connect with me on Twitter and now have a firsthand view of facts and my passion related to the business of raising food, feed, fuel and fiber. People appreciate passion, even if they don’t fully “get” what you do.

If you want the scoop behind this recognition, you can get see the details. I am thankful to be done with the five year CSP process and achieved this professional goal. However, I’m most grateful to do what love I love and work with wonderful people in agriculture. What different professional circles have you shared your agricultural story with lately? They’ll never know about the cost differences between the farm and grocery, how much your family cares about making food for them, or the efforts you put into crops/animals – unless YOU share it with them.