Check out this episode where you will hear about an entrepreneur’s journey, bull semen, and cow beauty pageants.
Michele Payn personifies passion. Known as one of North America’s leading experts in connecting farm and food, she serves as a resource for people around the plate. Michele encourages all of her clients and audiences to find people’s hot buttons and speak their language – whether it’s growing the conversation between farm gate and food plate, developing strategy, or building an advocacy plan. Widely known as a “change agent,” Michele delivers training programs and motivational keynotes to empower organizations to build connected communities.
Entrepreneur: Utilizing her diverse professional experience in the agricultural, sales and not-for-profit sectors, Michele founded Cause Matters Corp., a company designed to build connections around the food plate, in 2001. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele’s goal is to help you communicate “why your cause matters” – whether you’re a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness.
Farm girl. Mom. Science enthusiast: She knows agriculture because she lives agriculture. Payn holds degrees in Agricultural Communications and Animal Science from Michigan State University, where she saw science come to life firsthand as a student worker in the animal reproductive physiology laboratory. Michele is past president of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association and had the impact of her work featured in one of the first Spartan Sagas. Career highlights include a Regional Directorship for the National FFA Foundation, where she sold over $5 million in corporate sponsorships and led campaigns to develop community support for various Foundation expansions. She has also marketed and sold dairy genetics to more than 25 countries, managed e-business accounts and presented training programs in developing countries. Michele still holds her firsthand farm experience as the best contributor to her work.
Her lifelong passion for agriculture stems from childhood; she has been breeding and judging dairy cattle as a registered Holstein breeder since the age of nine and now resides on a small central Indiana farm. She enjoys working on the farm with her daughter, making memories with friends, traveling, coaching 4-H & FFA members and cheering on the Michigan State Spartans.
Author. Food translator: Michele has been baking since she was a young girl, but became a full-fledged foodie when she lived in Italy for a summer. She wrote the two-sided book “No More Food Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation” to encourage farm and food people to reach across the plate to find commonalities. Her new book, “Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Ways to Shop & Eat Without Guilt” will be released in early 2017 to bring clarity to grocery shopping and address food marketing myths.
Innovator” Michele’s strong belief in community-building and overcoming food insecurity stems from experience on four continents, including working in the Ukraine and Egypt, through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) projects. She has been selected as a Face of Innovation and is also active in her central Indiana community, volunteering with FFA, 4-H, church and school.
Payn continues to hone her skills after helping thousands of people around the world. As a member of the National Speakers Association, Michele is the founder of a professional networking group for generation X and Y speakers. She has earned her Certified Speaking Professional, a designation awarded to CSPless than 10% of professional speakers globally.
Michele founded #AgChat and #FoodChat, a weekly moderated discussion on Twitter, in April 2009. Tens of thousands of people from more than 20 countries have participated in this highly visible conversation around food and farm issues. This community nominated Michele as one of Mashable’s Top Three AgChat FoundationTwitter User’s of the Year in 2009, putting agriculture alongside celebrities. Michele was one of the founding AgChat Foundation’s board members in 2010 to grow the story of farmers, ranchers and agvocates in social media.
Michele measures success in conversations around the food plate by people who are willing to reach out to help make their cause matter. In celebration of this, Cause Matters Corp. awarded 10 food and ag organizations grants on its 10th anniversary. The company will continue that tradition with 15 Cause Forward grants this year in celebration of 15 years of building farm and food connections…stay tuned.