Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Here is number 9

I occasionally get the opportunity to present research and professional paper at conferences. This year I stayed especially busy and was asked to present three programs at the regional Midwest Museum Conference, two for the national Association of Living History, Farms and Agricultural Museums and one for the international Agricultural Historical Society. I will confess, public speaking has rarely bothered me. However, Ag. Historical Society one did make me a little nervous. The thought of presenting to a room full of academics and authors was a bit daunting. Some of my apprehension could surely be traced back to an experience I had while as the Farm Director at the Museums at Prophetstown in Lafayette, Indiana. I was asked to give a short program on the history of agriculture to a retirees group. Life lesson number one in public speaking, always ask about your audience. My failure to do so reinforces this point. I remember confidently rambling on for about 45 minutes about this change and that impact in farm history. I also remember a couple of gentlemen in the front row who kept leaning over to one another and whispering something. At the time I was just happy everyone was still awake, it was just after lunch. At the end of the program there were a number of questions and then I went out into the audience and meet some of the men in the room. The two gentlemen in the front row, Dr.s Earl Butz and Don Paarlberg. (Dr. Butz had been the US Secretary of Agriculture)The group was the made up of retirees from Purdue University. In the end, they did like the program and later we would work on a number of projects together at the museum. I still would have liked to know that some of the most influencial ag minds of the day were sitting in the room.