Viral ‘agvocacy’ videos serve to educate public about agriculture

courtesy photo Derek Klingenberg, a 2001 K-State graduate, has joined the ranks of K-State students and alumni making viral hits about their agriculture passions. Klingenberg's approximately four minute long video features him, along with friends and family on his farm.

For decades, country music and agriculture have gone hand-in-hand — a match made in heaven joined by a common love of tractors. Recently, K-State’s agricultural students past and present have been shaking things up by tossing hip-hop in the mix and uploading the videos to YouTube. The results have gone viral.

In the last six months, YouTube parodies with catchy titles such as “I’m Farming and I Grow It” and “Farmer Style” have exploded on social networks. These videos are the brainchild of Greg Peterson, senior in agricultural communications, and his brothers Nathan, freshman in agricultural technology, and Kendal, a Southeast of Saline High School student.

But the convergence of agriculture and popular songs hasn’t ended with current students. Recently, K-State alum Derek Klingenberg produced and released “Ranching Awesome,” a parody on the recent hit “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. Since it was posted on March 11, the video has accrued more than 158,00 views on YouTube.

Klingenberg, who graduated from K-State in 2001, said he enjoys making ag-related videos not just for the entertainment value but because he sees it as a means of raising awareness of agriculture in a more mainstream outlet.

“I wanted to do a parody of something popular, so I just searched the No. 1 pop song,” Klingenberg said. “I want to promote agriculture and educate people about it.”

While this is Klingenberg’s first viral parody, it is not his first YouTube video.

“I’ve done original videos before, and they don’t take off,” Klingenberg said. “So, I thought I’d do a parody.”

Klingenberg’s video, as well as other ag-focused parodies, have received an enthusiastic response from the agricultural community.

Johanna Ryckert, senior in agricultural education, said that she thinks these “agvocacy” videos are a fun, yet on-point new way to shed a positive light on the industry.

“These videos are proof that agriculturalists are proud of their product and what they do for a living,” Ryckert said. “My father is a third-generation farmer, and he loves the videos and feels like they accurately describe his job in feeding the world.”

Ryckert added that she hopes the videos help individuals who are less familiar with the industry understand just how much agriculturalists contribute to society.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that, without agriculture, the world would lack the food, fiber and other sources we need to survive,” Ryckert said. “I think the videos do a great job showing how important agriculture is to everyone.”

Perhaps some of the biggest stars in the agriculture parody craze are the Peterson brothers, who host their own YouTube channel: “ThePetersonFarmBros.” Overall, the trio has received over 23 million hits since the channel’s creation in November 2011. More than 21 million of those views come from two of the brothers’ most popular agriculture parodies, “I’m Farming and I Grow It” and “Farmer Style,” which parody LMFAO’s hit “I’m Sexy and I Know It” and PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” respectively.

Much like Klingenberg, Greg Peterson said the element of education was a huge motivator in the brothers’ inspiration to keep making videos.

“I’m in ag communications, so I’m familiar with issues in agriculture,” Peterson said. “I have friends who are from Johnson County, and they just don’t know a whole lot about farming. My goal was to educate consumers and people from the city, but I had no idea it was going to go on such a large scale.”

Since the production of the videos, the Peterson brothers have been invited to share their experience at numerous agriculture conferences all across the nation, from Orlando, Fla., to San Antonio, Texas.

“When people bring us in, they want us to give advice on how to share their story and advocate agriculture,” Peterson said. “People in ag have been trying to do this for years, but we just kind of stumbled onto it.”

He said the agriculture community has had much to do with the success of the productions.

“The ag community has been great,” Peterson said. “From the very first video, they’ve all supported us. I don’t think it would have gone viral as quickly if it weren’t for them.”