#RealPigFarming Social Forces Students Speak Out

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

For 19-year-old Jenna Wheeler the opportunity to shine a positive light on the pork industry was a no-brainer.

“As I get older, it becomes more evident how much of the world simply does not know about agriculture,” says Wheeler, a sophomore at Lake Land College. “I wanted to be a part of the generation that helps to bridge the gap between rural and urban America and #RealPigFarming was the perfect outlook for me to do so.”

Wheeler, along with 12 other college students, was recently selected by the Pork Checkoff to represent the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces team this year. The team will be active July through December and were selected based on their involvement in the pork industry and their strong communication skills. 

“Social media is ingrained in young people’s lives,” says Claire Masker, director of sustainability communications for the Pork Checkoff. “It’s an easy tool for them to share their insights and inspiration about an industry that they are so proud to be a part of. With so many diverse social media channels, they each have an opportunity to share their passion for pig farming with their followers.”

The 2019 Social Forces team includes:
Arthur (Tré) Smith, Oklahoma State University 
Cole Spain, Iowa State University 
Kathryn Helmink, Southern Illinois University Carbondale 
Jenna Wheeler, Lake Land College 
Anna Link, University of Missouri Columbia 
Hunter Frobose, Ohio State University 
Morgan Fitzsimmons, Iowa State University 
Courtney Griffith, Butler Community College 
Shelby Shank, Murray State University 
Jake Sterle, Iowa State University 
Mekenzie Beattie, University of Nebraska Lincoln 
Blake Price, Northwest Missouri State University 
Rachel Frazier, Iowa State University

Masker says consumers continue to have questions about how pigs are raised. Hands-down, the best people to answer those questions are pig farmers. The Pork Checkoff’s social media outreach program allows real farmers to do just that using #RealPigFarming.

Young pig farmer Jake Sterle, a member of the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces and a student at Iowa State University, is looking forward to providing real-life, science-based information that tells the story of pork to people outside of the swine industry.

“Each of us on the team has the opportunity to make a difference by reaching diverse audiences through our individual networks on social media,” Sterle says. 

Iowa State University student Morgan Fitzsimmons says she hopes to help bridge the disconnect between pig farmers and consumers by proactively engaging in conversation about modern pork production practices.

“The social forces team will be encouraged to use #RealPigFarming as advocates for the pork industry,” Masker says. “While serving on this team, the students will be able to improve their communications skills and expand their professional network within the industry.” 

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