Michele Payn personifies passion. Known as one of North America's leading experts in connecting farm and food, she serves as a resource for people around the plate. Michele encourages all of her clients and audiences to find people's hot buttons and speak their language - whether it's growing the farm and food conversation, developing community relations strategy, or building an advocacy plan. Michele delivers high energy training programs and motivational keynotes to empower organizations to build connected communities.
Utilizing her diverse professional experience in the agricultural, sales and not-for-profit sectors, Michele founded Cause Matters Corp., a company designed to build connections around the food plate, in 2001. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele's goal is to help you communicate "why your cause matters" - whether you're a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness.
She knows agriculture because she lives agriculture. Payn holds degrees in Agricultural Communications and Animal Science from Michigan State University, where she saw science come to life firsthand as a student worker in the animal reproductive physiology laboratory. Michele is past president of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association and had the impact of her work featured in one of the first Spartan Sagas. Career highlights include a Regional Directorship for the National FFA Foundation, where she sold over $5 million in corporate sponsorships and led campaigns to develop community support. She has also marketed and sold dairy genetics to more than 25 countries, managed e-business accounts and presented training programs in developing countries. Michele still holds her firsthand farm experience as the best contributor to her work.
Her lifelong passion for agriculture stems from childhood; she has been breeding and judging dairy cattle as a registered Holstein breeder since the age of nine and now resides on a small central Indiana farm. She enjoys working on the farm with her "city slicker" husband and cow-loving daughter, making memories with friends, coaching 4-H and FFA members and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans.
Michele has been baking since she was a young girl, but became a full-fledged foodie when she lived in Italy as a college student. Her newest book was just awarded an IPPY bronze medal for medicine, health, and nutrition. Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Ways to Shop & Eat Without Guilt, a #1 best seller on Amazon, brings clarity to grocery shopping and address food marketing myths. She also wrote the two-sided book No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation to encourage farm and food people to reach across the plate to find commonalities. Michele recently announced she is writing Food Bullying, a startling look at the misrepresentation of food. This new book, expected late 2019, sheds light on bogus nutrition and environmental claims to help people recognize and stand up to the bullies.
Michele's strong belief in community-building and overcoming food insecurity stems from experience on four continents, including working in the Ukraine and Egypt, through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) projects. She has been selected as a Face of Innovation and is also active in her central Indiana community, volunteering with FFA, 4-H, church, and school.
Payn continues to hone her skills after helping thousands of people around the world. As a member of the National Speakers Association, Michele is the founder of a professional networking group for generation X and Y speakers. She has earned her Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a designation awarded to less than 10% of professional speakers globally.
Michele measures success in conversations around the food plate by people who are willing to reach out to help make their cause matter.
- Translating Farm to Food - How can you move beyond advocacy?
Have you looked into agriculture's future? Who will be making decisions about how farmers are allowed to take care of our land and animals? Not agriculture, if we can't learn to meet at the intersection of farm and food. Sharing your farm, ranch, or agribusiness story is great, but it's time to go beyond advocacy. Do you have what it takes to translate today's agriculture to grocery shoppers?
An international award winning author, Michele can help you understand how people look at food. Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Surprising Ways to Shop & Eat Without Guilt addresses myths throughout the grocery store to bring clarity and common sense to the food conversation. She embedded 25 food truths throughout the book to translate how food is grown, why modern practices are used and how marketing is misleading food buyers. The book, awarded a 2018 IPPY bronze medal in medicine, health and nutrition, includes stories of 55+ contributors to translate the science of today's agriculture on a human level. Move skills to another level with Translating Farm to Food. Advocacy and telling a story are wonderful, but can be rather one-sided. Translating what happens on today's farms and ranches is key to connecting at a heart level.
This eye opening keynote or training will help your audience learn:
- Tips to distill technical issues such as animal welfare, GMOs, antibiotics, food safety, pesticides and hormones into simpler conversations.
- Techniques to translate the complex business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber in real-life communications.
- Advanced methods to communicate why food is grown the right way by the right people for the right reasons.
- Leadership skills in the conversation around farm and food as a best business practice.
- Ways to easily integrate these skills across social media channels.
- Authentically Agriculture: Connecting on a Human Level - Agriculture isn't just your work, it's who you are. Or is it? Now is the time to translate the agriculture world to the non-ag folks and YOU are the one to do it. It's also time for us to take responsibility for not communicating about what's happening on today's farms and ranches - which means we must relate as humans. You have the opportunity to connect on common values, regardless of who is on the other side of the conversation. Michele's new program is filled with examples of standing in 100% authenticity for agriculture. She'll help you find a way to "go beyond the choir" and connect with people who can still be influenced through conversation. Michele's "agversations" with moms, CEOs, children and media come to life with her humorous look at agriculture's messages.
This program will show you how to:
- Connect on common values - shared interests and results
- Provoke interest and let others learn from your personal experiences and stories
- Create "agversations" with those within and out of the agriculture to spread your message
- Share what is happening on today's farms
- Discover how to be casual yet influential in conversation rather than defensive
- Help others understand the importance of ag issues - become more comfortable discussing issues with others
- Interpret the journey from farm to plate with your own stories
- Learn how Michele talks about ag issues to non-aggies comfortably, meaningfully so you too can become a compelling storyteller
Audience members will be inspired to take a hard look at "who am I", consider "what does that mean to others" and then take actionable steps through "how do I translate agriculture to something meaningful for others." Michele is known for lighting a fire under farmers, ranchers and agribusiness people - this program is designed to help your meeting attendees understand how to relate on a personal basis, as one human to another. Learn from Michele's experiences discussing food, fuel, feed and fiber with parents, foodies, influencers, international audiences, friends and nutrition professionals. She'll give you freedom to be authentic even when you're not "talking shop" with people who share your same background. Michele is often asked "how can I be in a situation that's unrelated to agriculture and still share my message?" This memorable program gives the answers - and grows your comfort level, confidence and clarity.
- Celebrating Agriculture - When you're ready to stand up and celebrate the people, promise and passion in your business, bring Michele to your meeting. You will laugh and cry while celebrating work from the farm gate to the consumer plate. Fill your room with energy and unmatched passion for the agrifood business - Michele is known for lighting up audiences and leaving an imprint on their heart. Michele's keynote is filled with poignant moments from her life on the farm, lessons from working with farmers from over 25 countries and how to really make a connection that impacts the future of agriculture. She'll even incorporate kickboxing moves and throw in audience humor as they join her on stage. This memorable keynote will help you understand how to lead through the significant changes facing agriculture in the 21st century and leave a legacy for your business.
When you attend Celebrating Agriculture presentation, you will:
- Consider thought leadership in the conversation about food, fiber, fuel and feed
- Understand the necessity of proactive positioning for agriculture
- Learn to leverage trust to protect your bottom line
- Identify ways to more effectively connect with key influencers
- Find the power of emotions in connecting with other humans
Not only will Michele's lifelong passion and background in agriculture keep your audience on the edge of their seats, Michele's interactive style gets them out their seat - both at your meeting and back at home. This unique motivational keynote is customized to each audience, just as it has been for Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers, South Dakota Agribusiness Association, Delaware Women in Agriculture, Farm Credit Services of America and California Farm Bureau.
- Farm Like A Girl: Laughter for Ladies in Agriculture - Belly laughs and a bond amongst agricultural women is a sure bet with this humorous look at the unique challenges faced by women on a farm, ranch, or agribusiness. A farm girl since birth, Michele pokes fun at her own mechanical inabilities and shares a dozen other stories sure to leave ladies rolling in laughter. Michele's inside look will warm the heart of any female on a farm, ranch or agribusiness woman. Women will find a new appreciation for the power of pink in farming #likeagirl with this keynote.
Known for her sarcasm, quick wit and heart for the ag community, Michele is able to relate to women from all walks of agriculture. She will inspire your meeting attendees to laugh at the foibles and frustrations that happen while trying to farm or ranch #likeagirl. This keynote will move hearts to truly celebrate the special role of ladies in agriculture, while building their connections with each other.
- Table Talk Training - Are you ready to have a different conversation around farm and food? Do you need new tools to discuss hormones, chemicals, sustainability, animal welfare, antibiotics and other emotional issues impacting the food conversation? "Table Talk" is a customized training that will equip you to have smarter conversations around farm and food. Certified Speaking Professional Michele Payn has developed a NEW two-day intensive program for a small group. She's designed it to be casual and personal to help those in agriculture or dietetics who really want to make advocacy authentic and take their efforts to a new level. You'll get personal coaching, a dozen hours of interactive training with case studies, both of Michele's books (and the insight gleaned from writing them), and answers to your burning questions.
The vision is for about 12-15 people to gather for "Table Talk." Join Michele at the table: you will be challenged by her 18 years of experience in this arena and walk away empowered with a different understanding of the conversation. And you'll likely meet some amazing people from across the country who will deepen your perspective about agriculture and food.
- Championing Agriculture - Feel like consumers don't understand where their food comes from? Frustrated by the way agriculture is portrayed in the media? Wondering why legislators don't seem to value the agrifood business? Agricultural advocacy isn't about the "warm fuzzies" - it's about protecting our bottom line. This program will help leverage the trust invested in farmers and give participants 6.5 easy-to-remember tools to take back to members.
Michele founded Cause Matters Corp. to give a voice to the people who feed the world - and this is her signature presentation. Re-inspire staff members to help defend the trust consumers have invested in agriculture. Brainstorm ideas about how to more effectively connect agriculture with consumers, the media, teachers and politicians who are generations removed from our industry!
- A Conversation about Agriculture & Food through Social Media - Does Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, live streaming, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other social networks really matter to agriculture and food? Today's community isn't happening across the fence, in mom and pop cafes or high-end coffee shops. Time constraints, generational transitions and mobile's rapidfire growth have led to the development of communities through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and other social networks. Michele Payn has closely monitored the ever-changing social media world and will explain how social networks are not a fad you can wish away. You'll learn from her experience developing communities that reach well beyond your zip code - such as #AgChat and #FoodChat, a weekly streaming conversation about the business of raising food, fuel, feed and fiber. She'll also highlight how social networks are impacting popular opinion about food and those involved between farm gate, food plate and fork.
Participants will create a road map to develop their own online community, understand differences between the major sites and how to manage your sanity in our overly social world. You'll be surprised with your ability to farm online networks efficiently while maintaining your privacy. Michele is a pioneer "agvocate" - advocacy online to connect agriculture and food. She believes NOW is the time for all interested parties to sit down at the table and engage in the discussion - or accept that others without firsthand expertise - will be glad to speak for you. Cause Matters Corp. has tracked activists' social communities since 2009 and will share staggering facts of how different groups, such as Humane Society of the United States and Greenpeace, have increased their following several hundred-fold in that timeframe.