Mark Jackson talks TED in New York City

By Joseph L. Murphy

Mark Jackson displays his Iowa Soybean Association hat at the Crossroads of the World in Time Square. Jackson is in New York this week to participate in a TED Talk about sustainability and farming.

Mark Jackson displays his Iowa Soybean Association hat at the Crossroads of the World in Time Square. Jackson is in New York this week to participate in a TED Talk about sustainability and farming. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Mark Jackson displays his Iowa Soybean Association hat at the Crossroads of the World in Time Square. Jackson is in New York this week to participate in a TED Talk about sustainability and farming. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Mark Jackson traded the black soil of his Mahaska County farm for the concrete streets of New York City this week. The trip that carried him from Iowa to Manhattan was to raise awareness of his livelihood and how farmers strive to be sustainable in a changing food system.

Jackson, a farmer from Rose Hill and a director with the Iowa Soybean Association, was invited to take part in a Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Talk this week in the big apple. His speech titled “Hands Across Generations” will focus on his family’s passion for agriculture dating back to the 1800’s on the rolling prairie of southern Iowa.

TED Talks are a series of speeches that are given to a live audience and shared through social media. For many connected to social media TED is a place to listen and learn.

“TED is a community with global reach,” Ronda Carnegie, head of Global Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at TED, said. “There are over 1,800 Talks on TED.com, which have been viewed nearly 2.5 billion times. What’s more, we have over 11,000 volunteer translators from around the world translating TED Talks into 105 languages.”

TED representatives talk with speakers during a rehearsal for the event. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

TED representatives talk with speakers during a rehearsal for the event. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

 

The talks are recorded and broadcasted on the TED website and then shared through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The result is millions of people around the world can see the conversations that were initially presented to several hundred people.

For Jackson sharing his family’s history and more importantly the work he has done to make his farm sustainable while increasing yields is a chance of a lifetime.

“The importance of having TED as a platform to tell my story is a unique opportunity. Stepping outside of our normal avenues to relate the importance of modern agriculture is critical to defend the sustainability efforts that farmers have achieved,” Jackson said. “The Ted-Unilever collaboration is a first of its kind for the “TED Institute” and being selected to share the Iowa farmer’s story is a major accomplishment within itself as Unilever realizes the value modern agriculture has brought to the sustainability conversation.“

Mark’s work with the Unilever soy sustainability program made his story a natural fit for the TED presentation. Last year Jackson hosted top executives from Unilever on his farm to help them better understand modern agriculture practices and how soybeans move through the supply chain before being used as ingredients in Unilever products like Hellmann’s Mayonnaise.

“This TED event is about bringing the outside in, in the area of sustainability. Across many platforms, with many voices, many nationalities and many topic areas,” Jonathan Atwood, national vice president of sustainable living and corporate communications for Unilever, said.

He went on to say that Jackson brings a voice to the Iowa soybean story that in partnership with Unilever is creating a conversation about sustainability and how the worlds of business and agriculture can come together to make a difference.

“We reached out to Mark and others in the Iowa farming community to say come on a journey with us,” Atwood said. “We are thrilled that Mark is here to say ‘this is who we are, and this is what we stand for’ and that’s exciting.”

Jackson speaks with Gina Barnett during a rehearsal for his TED presentation. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Jackson speaks with Gina Barnett during a rehearsal for his TED presentation. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

 

This week has been busy or Mark. He attended rehearsals, met with other presenters and learned more about the TED organization. All the preparations are leading up to his moment on the stage and the ability to tell his story of hands across generations.

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association. Find more great stories at: www.iasoybeans.com/news

Hands across generations the TED Talk

By Joseph L. Murphy

TED Talks partnered with Unilever to place a spotlight on ideas, projects and insights they hope will contribute to shifting perspectives and a brighter future yesterday in New York City. The program called “TED@Unilever” provided a voice to 16 people, spanning several continents, to share their ideas of creating social and business change for billions of people.

Mark Jackson reads his speech on stage at the TED@Unilever event in New York City on Wednesday. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Mark Jackson reads his speech on stage at the TED@Unilever event in New York City on Wednesday. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Mark Jackson, an Iowa Soybean Association director and farmer, was one of the speakers featured in the program. He painted a picture of the struggles and joys that his family has gone through since the 1800’s while farming land near Rose Hill.

“I now see how the profession I have devoted my life to impacts the world. I want to share with you a story of where we’ve been in agriculture, where we are now and where we are going,” Jackson told the audience during the opening of his presentation.

His grandfather first planted soybeans on their farm in the 1920’s and since that time each generation has strived to produce sustainable and environmentally responsible crops.

“I owe my passion for my profession to my father, an agriculture giant in my eyes,” Jackson told the crowd. “He was a fiercely independent man, short stature but tall in character.”

Jackson was invited to participate in the program because of his work in partnership with Unilever, the Iowa Soybean Association and ADM over the past year. The partnership created the soy sustainability project encouraging farmers to document the sustainability of their soybean crops from planting to harvest.

“Today, the U.S. farmer represent only one percent of this country’s population but we are growing nearly half of the world’s soybeans,” Jackson continued as a crowd of 150 people, mostly from New York, listened. “Using science to provide assurances to the American consumer I’ve worked on a first-of-its kind sustainability effort with soy.”

He highlighted technology he uses on his farm to aid in conservation, decrease pesticide use while saving on fuel costs. He finished the six minute talk by asking the audience a rhetorical question.

“What will the future look like? It will include soybeans and other crops that produce more with less water and less inputs that will adapt to changing climates. ”

At the conclusion of the event Jackson and the other speakers visited with those in attendance, including executives from Unilever.

“We thought the event was a great success. Our speakers have traveled far and wide to educate and inspire sustainable practices and it’s great to hear them shed light on how they’re working to create bright futures around the world,” Jessica Sobel, North American Sustainable Living manager, said.

The individual speeches were recorded and will be broadcasted after being edited by TED team members. Jackson reflected on his time in New York for the speech while thinking about the upcoming harvest back home in Iowa.

“TED was a unique opportunity,” He said. “Modern agriculture has had to embrace change to align with the needs of our customers. We strive to bring an abundant and safe crop that enables the expanding world population to be fed.”

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association. Find more great stories at: www.iasoybeans.com/news