By Fred Myers
For more than 150 years, farm magazines have been the primary information source for America’s farmers and ranchers.
Whether presenting information only in print in earlier years or in print and electronically today, they have reflected virtues unique to the rural landscape. Also, the power and influence of the agricultural press has increased as mechanization and technology have continued to replace manual labor and guesswork.
In many respects, creating the American Agricultural Editors’ Association in 1921 was timely and appropriate. It was founded by a small group of farm magazine editors who sensed the need for such an organization. In writing the AAEA’s purpose, they undoubtedly hoped the association would be valuable to its members and instill values that could be passed on to readers.
Those hopes, indeed, have been realized. In 2010, the AAEA celebrated its 90th anniversary.
During all those years, the AAEA has served not only editors, writers and photographers on the staffs of the nation’s farm magazines but also those holding professional communications positions in agribusiness.
The AAEA’s vitality and longevity is not so much a credit to its structure as it is to its members. People with hopes, dreams, fears, ambition, knowledge and talent. People with similar professional interests willing to come together to share knowledge and enjoy camaraderie.
The AAEA provides avenues for learning through workshops, conferences, field trips and electronic conferencing. It offers opportunities for growth through leadership and enhanced abilities through competition. It recognizes some of those who have given distinguished service to agriculture, attracts speakers of national prominence and has gained the attention and respect of U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of Agriculture. In recent years, it has created and continues to strengthen ties between agricultural journalists in the U.S. and their counterparts throughout the world.
Perhaps even to a greater degree than the founders envisioned, the AAEA has increased ag writers’ awareness of their responsibilities to readers who depend on the quality and accuracy of their writings.
Fred Myers, an AAEA member for more than 49 years, lives in Florence, Alabama. Fred has had a lifelong interest in professional development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.