The faces behind the Animal Agriculture Alliance

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The Animal Agriculture Alliance is a small, but mighty team with just four full-time staff members. Our mission is bridging the communication gap between farm and fork and we figured you might be wondering why all of us at the Alliance are passionate about our work, so we’d like to take this opportunity to share a little bit about our backgrounds and why we enjoy working on behalf of animal agriculture.

Kay HeadshotKay Johnson Smith, President and CEO

My dad always joked my sisters and I were city girls growing up in the country.  I used to think that was because we loved shopping, sports and all of the activities that came along with school.  We spent more time in town than in the country where I grew up in south central Virginia.

While all that’s true, it occurred to me recently maybe he meant we had the luxury of not worrying about where our food was coming from or having to spend endless hours growing it or caring for the animals that provided us milk, eggs or meat.  He grew up in a large family that logged and farmed for a living.  He told us many stories about milking cows before they could have breakfast and go to school, and then having to do it again before dinner.  There was little time for play or spending time away from the farm, but they loved this life and were very proud of their family business.

Not long after college, my political science degree helped me land a position in public affairs at the Virginia Farm Bureau.  I soon realized I was working on behalf of people just like my family: hard working, strong values and a commitment to doing things right.  I had found my passion: agriculture.

I’m thankful that led me to the Alliance in 1994, and I couldn’t be more proud to continue to have the privilege of working on behalf of America’s amazing farmers, ranchers and all of the stakeholders who help produce our nation’s food and fiber so people like me can enjoy a life without worry about where my food will come from or how it is produced.

2015-AFIA-29Casey Whitaker, Communications Coordinator

I didn’t come from an agriculture background, but I’m grateful I found agriculture when I did. I grew up on the outskirts of the Washington D.C area and my childhood dream was to become a veterinarian, but I found my passion elsewhere during my sophomore year at Auburn University.

When changing my major I wasn’t 100 percent sure of what I wanted to do with my life, but one thing I was certain of is I wanted to stay within the College of Agriculture. I wanted a career working on behalf of the men and women that showed me what it meant to not only work hard, but work with a true passion and love for what they do every day. I wanted to have that same passion and I knew I could find it in agriculture.

11406270_907503572622173_2636870306716014651_oI studied Agricultural Communications and joined the Alliance 10 months ago as an intern before being hired as the Communications Coordinator because I felt like I could make a real difference with the Alliance and be able to give back to the agricultural community. At the Alliance I am able to take my passion for agriculture and help bridge the communication gap between farm and fork through social media and educational resources to positively influence public perception about animal agriculture. I have enjoyed every moment I have been here and am looking forward to the new year with a great team!

2015-AFIA-27Hannah Thompson, Director of Communications

Although I have roots in production agriculture on both sides of my family, I grew up in town on a small bit of land that my family used as a hobby farm to house our horses, chickens and the occasional sheep or goat. As much as my mother wanted me to show horses in 4-H, my interests were elsewhere: dairy cattle.

Our close family friends owned a dairy farm, and anytime we would visit I would immediately slip under the gate and be out with the cows. On my eighth birthday, I received the gift that would shape my future: a Brown Swiss heifer calf. This calf, named Joy, would be my ticket to getting involved with the dairy industry and joining 4-H and later FFA.hannah kid

Through these organizations, I was able to meet so many hardworking farmers who devote their time and energy to ensuring that their animals are receiving the best care. I knew I wanted to find a career that would allow me to give back to the community that has given me so much, and I have definitely found that at the Alliance!

Our mission of bridging the communication gap between farm and fork is personal to me because so many of my friends and family members depend on this vital industry that we all love: animal agriculture. I am proud to go to work every day and put my passion and education to work on behalf of all of our nation’s livestock and poultry farm families.

Allyson HeadshotAllyson Jones-Brimmer, Membership and Marketing Manager

I grew up in a rural area in northern New York, but not on a farm. My family drove by a small dairy farm and a large, expanding dairy farm on a daily basis. What exactly was happening in those barns and fields was a mystery to me. I was involved in 4-H because I rode and showed horses, which led me to join FFA and enroll in agriculture classes in high school. These experiences helped me gain an understanding of what was happening in the barns and fields. The more I learned, the more amazed I was by the ingenuity and innovation of farmers. The more farmers I met, the more appreciative I was of their hard work and dedication to their AJB FFAanimals, land, employees and community. The more I learned, the more I wanted to share the story of agriculture with others. That led me to study Animal Science and Agricultural Science Education. I joined the Alliance seven months ago because I am passionate about the Alliance’s mission of bridging the communication gap between farm and fork.

If you would like to give a personal donation to support our mission please click here.

One comment

  1. Thank you for working to support reason, science, and sound agricultural practices.

    We all need to work harder to have a consistent presence in mainstream media!

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