Early December is always an exciting time around the DTN offices, as we get down to the wire of the annual DTN Ag Summit. Many of you have participated in this event during the past 13 years, making the trip to Chicago just ahead of the Christmas holiday season. It's always thought-provoking, and a great chance to network with other farmers and ranchers and leaders from throughout the ag industry. And downtown Chicago, all dressed up for the holidays, can be a wonderful place. Sipping a Ghirardelli hot chocolate as the snow filters down through the lights of the old Water Tower can be magical.
The downside has been the commitment to winter travel to take part.
We can thank the pandemic for "fixing" that little detail in 2020, as it has altered so many events and plans this year. But in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I have to admit I'm pretty excited about this year's Summit, in some ways more than past years.
In case you haven't heard, the 2020 Ag Summit, our 14th event, is virtual. It kicks off in just a few days, Dec. 7-9, and is packed with discussions on global trade, the economy, market and weather outlooks, leadership sessions, all the content you've come to expect from this premiere ag business event. The agenda and registration can be found here www.dtn.com/agsummit20.
For some of the highlights of this year's agenda, including a focus on keynote speaker Ambassador Kip Tom, check out Urban Lehner's wonderful rundown of the event in his blog, An Urban's Rural View. (https://www.dtnpf.com/…)
But the most exciting thing to me is that this year everyone can participate in the Summit, from the safety and warmth of their home, office, shop, even from the tractor cab! And because the event will be recorded and stored online, as a registered attendee you'll be able to go back and review sessions or catch ones that you missed if some pressing on-farm issue changes your morning plans.
I recommend you register quickly to have time to familiarize yourself with our new online platform. We've worked for months with our friends at Chime Live to create a virtual event that is as close to being in the Chicago Fairmont Hotel as possible.
A big part of that effort has gone into chat, forum and other networking functions, because networking with your peers is always at the top of the "things we love about Summit" list we see in post-Summit evaluations.
We've recreated the popular Breakfast Roundtables using Zoom, and you'll find a number of morning discussion topics to choose from as you have that early coffee (or hot chocolate). These virtual "tables" will be hosted by topic experts and by DTN staff, just as we do in Chicago. You can participate in full video or just chat via audio for a lower internet bandwidth load.
There also are a number of fun things to do, since we can't share stories and catch up as we would normally do over a meal or a cold beverage. You can create a network profile and tell others about yourself and your operation. There's a photo gallery to share harvest or other farm images. We have a note-taking area you can pull up and type notes and formulate questions with your keyboard without taking your eyes off the presentations. And you can quickly share information or comments via your social media account straight from within the Chime Live platform.
We've also included some fun ways to exercise your competitive muscles. Attendees can accumulate points for participating in various sessions, sharing bits via social media, and other activities. Those points make you eligible for various prizes, including free registration to the 2021 DTN Ag Summit, which is already being planned for next December in Chicago.
There is no doubt we'll miss the handshakes, the laughs, the discussions and the sparkle of an in-person event. But the whole DTN and Progressive Farmer team hopes you'll find our virtual Summit a solid substitute, and perhaps just that little sip of warm richness to entice you to enjoy the full event next year, as we celebrate 15 years of Ag Summit.
Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @greghorstmeier
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