How to Participate

Sharing your story with the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive is easy. 

Here's how to share your story:
  1. Think like a historian to find your story
  2. Go to "Share your story" and complete the form
  3. Check your e-mail
  4. Visit your story
  5. Tell a friend
1. Find a story: Think like a historian
To share your story, you'll need to act like a historian: explore old family photo albums, talk to relatives, and think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment. Here are a few themes and questions to get you started:
  • Youth agriculture education: In mid-April 2014, the Museum will launch a story collecting effort focused on youth agricultural education. Whether you participate in FFA, 4-H, agriculture-related clubs, or formal agricultural courses—now or in the past—we want to see your story and photos in the Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive. What did you learn from childhood experiences with agricultural education? How did these experiences inspire your educational choices, career path, and life? What changed over the years and what stayed the same? 
  • Personal Experience: Changes in agriculture have affected people living on farms, ranches, suburbs, and cities. Have you ever talked to your grandparents about how food is different today? Even if you don’t have a family connection to farming, have you noticed changes in agriculture affecting your own life or the landscape of where you live? Do you think food has gotten less expensive? Do you eat out-of-season fruits and produce?
  • Technology: What is the role of technology in modern American farming? How has GPS and precision farming changed the way you work? When did computers first come to the farm? Do you have photos or stories about how things have changed?
  • Biotechnology: What has biotechnology and new hybrids meant to American farmers? Do you have photographs of “walking the beans,” detasseling corn, selecting seeds, and other such experiences? Has the expense of hybrid seeds been worthwhile? When did you first bring new hybrids to the farm?
  • Finance: As production has gotten more efficient, farms have gotten bigger and more technologically dependent. The museum would like to document how land is bought and agriculture is financed. From the farm auctions, to crop insurance, or just buying seed, there are many interesting stories to tell and poignant photos to share. Was anybody in your community hit by the farm crisis of the 1980s? What were the auctions like?
  • Environment: Concerns about the environmental effects of farming and ranching along with scientific research into new procedures and equipment have fundamentally changed American farming. Tell the story of how environmental concerns, large-scale organic technological innovation, or governmental practices have changed things for you.
  • Competition: Many people point argue that marketing is the American farmer’s greatest challenge. Others say that today’s tractor cab is like a seat on the commodity exchange, with farmers selling, hedging, and trying to profit from their crops. How does it work for you? Do you have more control in marketing your crops than your grandparents did? What do you do that farmers from 100 years ago could not have imagined? And have you experimented with any crops that grew well but failed with the public?”
  • Safety: Today traceability and food safety is at the forefront of public interest. Innovations in tracking and monitoring continue to make the American food supply one of the safest in the world. Have you done anything new or experimental in the field of food safety? How are things done differently now vs. in the past?
  • Animals: Poultry, cattle, pigs, and other animal production has always been important to American agriculture, but the face of raising animals has changed dramatically. Has your life been affected by new techniques in animal production? Do you raise animals today? How does it differ from 30 years ago?
  • Water: Irrigation has always been important to western farmers but with climate change and growing competition for dwindling water supplies new ideas about efficient irrigation are making a difference. Do you irrigate? Has your attitude towards water changed?
  • Labor: Ranch hands, migrant workers, and the help of family members once provided much of the labor to raise and harvest crops. Today sophisticated machinery and herbicides resistant plants have changed the nature of the enterprise. How has your life changed? Do you miss the old days?

2. Submit your story
Once you have an idea for a story, return to the archive's homepage and click "Share My Story" to begin. The archive's submission form will ask you to type or paste in the text of your story; it will also ask you to give to your story a title. Next, you'll also have the opportunity to upload images, audio files, documents, or video files that relate to your story. Finally, before you click submit, the form will ask you to describe when your story took place, as well as what themes your story relates to. Before clicking "submit," don't forget to check the box that indicates your agreement with the terms and conditions. 

3. Check your e-mail
You'll receive a email confirming your submission within 24 hours. Our team will review your submission, and we’ll send you another email when your story appears in the Archive website.  
If you get stuck at during the submission process, or if you have any follow-up questions, visit the Archive's
frequently asked questions page or send us a message using our contact form.
4. Visit your story
Stories accepted for publication will be viewable in the "browse stories" module on April 30, 2013.  
5. Tell a friend
Help us preserve America's agricultural heritage. Tell a friend about this project and encourage them to contribute their own stories.