Originally posted on CountrySpirit by Karen Blatter
Going viral on the Internet was never in Erin Ehnle’s plans for Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl project.
But, a year later, she has more than 17,120 “likes” and followers to her Facebook page. Even though other businesses, places and movements can gain millions of fans, 17,120 is more than the farm girl, with a high school graduating class of less than 50, could imagine.
“I thought I would have 100 or so people following me – just like friends and family,” she said. “But I never thought I would be over a 1,000 or even at 10,000.”
As a social media intern with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board in the spring 2012 semester, Ehnle created the page as part of her project. She did weekly and daily posts using her own pictures and statistics and facts about agriculture.
Raised on a corn and soybean farm, Ehnle said her passion and heart are 100 percent in agriculture and farming. Creating a page that showed her passion was easy.
“I just wanted to talk about agriculture and clear up some of the misconceptions that people have,” she said. “I’m not an expert, but it’s what is most important to me.”
She started tinkering with photography in high school and bought her first camera with the money she earned while working ground on her family farm.
The hobby turned into a business as people started to see her pictures and asked her to take family pictures and others. When she started the internship, linking her two passions into a social media concept was easy.
She said people from across the country have liked her page, which has gotten much more exposure than she ever imagined. She said some of her posts lead to conversations about agriculture, and fans have also helped to speak the truth about agriculture.
“I wanted to give people something to think about,” she said. “The page did that, and led to a conversation between producers and consumers.”
Even though the internship is over, Ehnle said she keeps up with weekly posts to give her fans something to “like,” while juggling school full time. She takes the time to go home most weekends and participate in the activities of her parents’ farm, but she misses the ability to take agriculture pictures every day.
The connections she’s made through the page have given her opportunities and allowed her to get to know other people, and career paths, in agriculture.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, or where I will be doing it, but I know I will be an agriculture advocate,” she said. “All of us have something ot say about agriculture.”