Tyson donates $50,000 to Rancher Relief Fund | TSLN.com

Tyson donates $50,000 to Rancher Relief Fund

As ranchers continue to pick up the pieces from the early October blizzard that killed tens of thousands of cattle, there are many organizations working to raise money to help support those impacted by the winter storm.

On Monday, Oct. 21, Twitter literally turned into a fundraising avenue for the ranchers of South Dakota. The AgChat Foundation (ACF) hosted a live Tweetcast in partnership with Tyson to raise money for ranchers that lost livestock as a result of the recent blizzard, "Atlas." For each tweet that included the hashtag, "RancherRelief," Tyson Foods pledged a $10 donation to the Rancher Relief Fund.

The Tweetcast lasted just one hour, and as a result of the online conversation, Tyson donated $50,000 to the SD Rancher Relief Fund. Katie Lukens Pinke, from Wishek, N.D., helped to support the ACF's efforts. She worked alongside ACF's Executive Director Emily Zweber and ACF's Communications Director Jenny Schweigert to help promote the Tweetcast and help the dialogue move forward.

"I reached out to a few South Dakota ranch women I knew who were impacted by Storm Atlas and encouraged them to sign up for Twitter; Emily organized a Sunday evening online conference call and training session with those folks new to Twitter," Lukens Pinke said.

“We did this together for ranchers and families impacted by storm Atlas, but what it did online was connect individuals from around American agriculture and around the globe, including non-agriculture consumers, to come together for good in social media. It still surprises me how little people know about this tragedy and disaster.”

–Dennis Daugaard

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She experienced the Atlas Blizzard firsthand while stranded at the South Dakota Rural Women of Agriculture Conference in Deadwood, S.D., where she was a keynote speaker.

"The reason I became active from day one in Rancher Relief efforts was because I believe the community of agriculture rallies together for each other in good and difficult times," she explained. "I reached out to Emily after speaking to and then being stranded in the Black Hills during Storm Atlas for three days with women attending the South Dakota Rural Women of Agriculture conference. Many of those women were directly impacted, and I asked Emily if the online and grassroots community of the AgChat Foundation could do something together to fundraise and bring attention to this disaster. From there, it has taken off, and the Tweetcast was an idea of Emily and Jenny's."

Tyson is a regular sponsor of the ACF, so it was only natural for them to want to be included in the fundraiser for the Rancher Relief Fund. The $50,000 donation will go directly toward helping the ranchers.

"There were 6 million impressions in one hour of the Tweetcast," she added. "That's quite the participation and reach! The AgChat Foundation set aside their traditional fall fundraising to happen in early November until 2014 to dedicate their fall fundraising to Rancher Relief. Tyson agreed to support ACF's efforts. This is from the superb work of Zweber, a dairy farmer from Minnesota and Schweigert, a grains and livestock farmer in Illinois, and the entire support of the ACF board of directors. It's a grassroots, farmer-led organization that really has rallied to support these ranchers."

Participation in the Tweetcast involved folks from all across the country, including South Dakota's very own Governor Dennis Daugaard. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture actively participated, as well.

"To me, the greatest win in this Tweetcast was the community connections made," she said. "We did this together for ranchers and families impacted by storm Atlas, but what it did online was connect individuals from around American agriculture and around the globe, including non-agriculture consumers, to come together for good in social media. It still surprises me how little people know about this tragedy and disaster. That was apparent in our promotion ahead of the Tweetcast and during the questions and answers. Our work isn't done. We need to keep helping in any way we can."

Folks can see the AgChat Foundation Tweetcast #RancherRelief archives and photos online at http://agchat.nestivity.com/