Spreading the word

Northern Ireland agri journalist and key Farm Trader writer, Chris McCullough's latest undertaking has been hosting American media student Michelle Stangler as part of her European quest to interview farmers

Chris McCullough and Michelle Stangler

Michelle, who hails from Watertown, Wisconsin, is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, studying agricultural marketing communications and journalism.

Chris has worked as a journalist reporting on agriculture in print, digital, and broadcasting, both locally and around the world, for the past 22 years.

Both are associated with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) through membership in their respective guilds.

It was via the IFAJ social media channels that Michelle reached out to fellow agri journalists in Europe to assist in further planning her trip.

The duo met in Northern Ireland for a few days touring farms and the wider agricultural industry, interviewing farmers and creating stories, videos, and podcast content as they travelled.

Michelle then travelled to southern Ireland to learn about the work of Teagasc and the wider meat industry.

For Chris, the encounter was a good opportunity to pass on some of his wealth of experience and knowledge gained from over two decades working in agricultural journalism.

“It was also a unique opportunity for me to learn firsthand from a dedicated young agri journalist who has grown up with, studied, and mastered new forms of media that are excelling in agri journalism today,” says Chris.

“Although I use several forms of media in my reporting, working with Michelle served well to further improve my journalist skills. It also gave me an insight into what the younger generation of readers favour in terms of how to access content.”

Michelle, who runs a podcast series ‘Positivity in Ag’ had already spent a month in Scotland prior to arriving with Chris.

Michelle meets Northern Ireland dairy farmer Michael Patton

“During the time Michelle had in Northern Ireland, we visited Michael Patton at Fisherwick Farm in Doagh to learn about his new venture selling milk from the dairy herd via a vending machine,” says Chris.

“Plus, we visited Ulster Wool where joint depot manager Jane Harkness-Bones gave us a tour and a very informative talk on what they do, collecting and marketing almost two million kilos of wool from sheep farms in Northern Ireland.

“It was a pleasure to host Michelle in Northern Ireland and show her exactly what we do here in terms of agricultural media and farming. We even had some free time to go to the beach.”

Michelle’s visit to Northern Ireland was the first step on her European adventure visiting several countries to learn and record all about their own styles of farming.

“Being over halfway through my travels to Europe, it’s been a journey to learn more about the agricultural community from the people who radiate positivity,” says Michelle.

“This is a project that completes my final semester as an undergraduate college student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls studying agricultural marketing communications and journalism.

US agri media student Michelle Stangler, with Northern Ireland agri journalist Chris McCullough and Jane Harkness-Bones, joint depot manager at Ulster Wool

“The Semester Abroad Europe programme is unique where I design the project and receive support from the university on travel tips and how to plan.

“I began with a month in Scotland, taking a class to help prepare for the eight weeks of the project and meet with fellow students and staff before I departed.

“Now, I’m travelling country to country interviewing people in agriculture for a podcast I have created and host called Positivity in Ag.

“From travelling to Northern Ireland, then the Republic of Ireland and on to Italy, I’m grateful to the people like Chris who’ve been as enthusiastic about the podcast and have helped me alon the way.

“I’ve learned how to become not only a better agricultural journalist but also how agriculture is a community globally. From farmer to farmer and person involved in the industry to the next, there’s differences that propels the industry further.

“That’s what I’m striving to do; learning as much as I can to become a better storyteller of agriculture with a career in agricultural marketing, communications, or broadcasting,” says Michelle.

Michelle plans to connect with other IFAJ members along the way, including some in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Sweden, to learn more about agriculture in their respective countries.

Speaking about the IFAJ connection, IFAJ vice president Steve Werblow says, “It’s exciting to see the global network of ag journalists welcoming new people into the industry.”

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend