Michele Payn-Knoper, principal of Cause Matters Corp. and certified speaking professional, challenges every person in agriculture to pick at least one activity to multiply their voice tenfold. Cause Matters Corp. will give at least 10 monetary or in-kind training grants to food and ag organizations that best demonstrate an ability to connect the farm and food. Grants will be selected monthly through May 2012 based on an application completed atwww.facebook.com/causemattersand their community's level of engagement.

“10x Connect encourages people to go beyond the choir and reach a hand across the aisle,” she says. “Agriculture isn’t just what we do, it is who we are. We need to do a better job of communicating the common values as humans, rather than agriculturists.”

Payn-Knoper passionately believes in protecting choices on the farm, as well as on the food plate. She says it's about narrowing the gap through conversation – or "agversation." With the overwhelming response of applications to 10X Connect, Cause Matters Corp. decided to award two grants in the first month to both Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and the Food For Thought non-profit organizations.

First grant recipients selected
Cause Matter Corp selects
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids(FS4JK) because as a mom, Payn-Knoper understands the dangers that exist on a farm and appreciates the national awareness impact FS4JK has made in helping farm and ranch families with safety education.

“They recognize the value of social media to further their reach,” she says. “My hope is that with this in-kind training grant, they will increase not only the agricultural community's familiarity with the importance of safety, but help others understand some of the challenges of farm life."

Tracy Schlater, marketing director for FS4JK plans to use the 10X Connect grant for an agvocacy webinar presentation to the organization’s chapter coordinators, so they can learn how to do more farm safety outreach and teach “agvocacy,” as well.

With no alliance to a specific commodity group and the commitment to becoming a valuable and credible source of fact-based information, theKansas State Universitystudents and alumni that comprise the Food For Thought organization provide creative ideas on reaching people outside of agriculture.

“They did an excellent job of engaging their community through the grant selection process,” Payn-Knoper says. “An engaged community that can leverage additional voices is a goal of 10X Connect.”

Food For Thought recently launched a pilot program called Farm Tour Fridays, which it plans to supply to other state organizations to use to promote agriculture. Food For Thought will receive a $1,000 grant from Cause Matters Corp. to support their Upson Lecture Series.

Leading the Conversation
Like the Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and Food For Thought organizations, Payn-Knoper believes agriculture has a responsibility to lead the conversation about food and farming. Her belief in the need to connect farm gate and consumer plate led her to found Cause Matters Corp. and start professionally speaking a decade ago.

“My vision with the 10X Connect is to give back and encourage people to consider how they can leverage their communities,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult to go from one voice to hundreds.

“If 1,000 people rise to this challenge, we can impact 10,000 new voices to help carry our message with the potential reach to 100,000 new people.”

Cause Matters Corp. encourages people to share the ways they are leveraging their communities 10X onFacebookend_mark

—From Cause Matters Corp. news release