Social media or social comparison?


Social media or social comparison?

There are no boundaries in social media.

Social media provides countless ways to engage the human brain. It also serves as a platform for humans to react to all forms of news, entertainment, debates, political ideology, educational material, and even scandals and illegal activities. Social media was originally supposed to be a way to connect with family and friends, a "get-away" for some people due to boredom, a source of entertainment or news.

So how do we teach the future generation(s) to properly "use" social media for the better? Especially when social media is now linked to depression and other mental health problems. 

Understanding how social media can impact mental health is one thing, but using that knowledge to help people is another.

I encourage you to strive to make positive interactions online, not negative ones. 

In social media terms:

Social Interactions - The social interaction Key Performance Indicators (KPI) measures the effectiveness of your social media campaigns at fostering positive engagement. 

Interaction - A communication between an audience member and your social profile. 

The book, Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions a #1 audible bestseller, Amazon best science book of the year and MIT Technology Review best book of the year (and was also recommend to me as an excellent mind-stimulating read by Vance Crowe) takes computer algorithms and applies it to our everyday lives and situations. 

Our judgments betray our expectations and our expectations betray our experience. What we project about the future reveals a lot - about the world we live in and about our own past.
— Co-author, Brian Christian

A natural human instinct we have is to compare ourselves to others. What we see and follow online, we soon idolize and desire to become or want. Without trying, we keep these thoughts in the back of our minds and carry them with us all day. When social media users of any age begin comparing themselves to photos of others and the illusion of someone’s better life, it often leads to decreased self-esteem and depression. 

Our research and other academic literature suggests it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes your well-being.
— Facebook Newsroom

The Millennial generation (born between the early 1980s and 1990s) is one of the first generations to have experienced social media in their young adult lives, but it didn't become an everyday use until after their social skills were developed. This means Millennials are the youngest generation to know what life was like before the Internet. 

Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) is the first generation to grow up being fully exposed to technology. They played with an iPad at the age of three before their social skills were fully developed and the technology industry will only continue to grow for the rest of their lives. 

People who understand emotional cues in social settings develop superior social skills and have more positive relationships. When children use digital communication extensively, it decreases that much-needed face-to-face experience for them to develop and master important social skills.

In-person social skills need to be conquered first, before children can understand the concept of not needing to compare their life to another Instagram account. 

Social media is alive and well and it's not going away. Instead of creating more statistics, maybe we should start helping youth develop social skills and educate them on how to use these social platforms for the better.

Comparison should no longer interfere with expectations. We should not allow social media have an impact on anyone's mental health.




Branding beef, barns and old-school business


Branding beef, barns and old-school business

As the digital age continues to boldly move forward, there’s still something to be said about the success of old-school marketing. Certified Angus Beef (CAB) is bringing back a lost 'art' that many organizations are moving away from.

There are some things that will never go out of style; a firm handshake, holding the door open for those behind you, saying ‘Thank you' or ‘You're Welcome.' Marketing is an ever-evolving industry with thousands of different ways to leave an audience with a specific message or emotion. 

For the 40th Anniversary celebration of Certified Angus Beef, they are painting 40 barns across the country with the CAB logo. The point? To mark the occasion with something special that will last into the future by going back to the old-school marketing basics. 

Trust me, it's much more than #WatchingPaintDry...

It's bringing together all types of audiences; ranchers, food bloggers, media, and even folks who have never visited a ranch before to sit around one table, face-to-face and share a commonality. 

In marketing terms, this campaign is an example of "Face-to-Face Marketing" (F2F), the act of directly marketing to potential customers through in-person communication and is generally focused on events. Here's why F2F marketing still matters: no Tweet, Snap or chat can ever replace a real human connection. It is about visibility and creating trust. 

Fun Fact - the same person Troy Freeman, owner of Free Sky Studios is traveling from barn-to-barn to paint all of the 40 CAB logos. Each project requires about 20 hours.

 "After you paint the same logo over and over, you just have to start having fun with it!" - Troy Freeman.

"After you paint the same logo over and over, you just have to start having fun with it!" - Troy Freeman.

Kudos to the Blythe Family Farms for hosting the painting of the 16th barn. (Not pictured, the delicious meal catered by Little Apple Brewery.)

Follow Brand the Barn for the rest of the 24 barns for a tribute to the hardworking folks who are dedicated to bringing their best to the table every day of the year. 

For farmers, barns are the hub of daily activity, site of family and community gatherings, and symbols of the passion and pride they pass from generation to generation. Each barn, each farm and each family has a unique story, and we’re excited to celebrate with them and engage their local communities.
— Certified Angus Beef




''The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.''


''The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.''

Quote, by Oprah. 


"If you were to be in the same place in life 15 years from now, would you be satisfied?"

I ran across this line while scrolling aimlessly through social media one day. It slowed my racing mind and then my heart sank. What am I doing in life? It's not like I'm sitting inside all day, eating chocolate bonbons (as my mother would say).  More importantly, the question I asked myself over and over was, what adventure am I aspiring for that I haven't achieved yet?

George Mallory, who is known for attempting the first ascent of Everest said; 

What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.

Astronaut, military pilot, and educator, Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, by becoming the first man to walk on the moon said;

It’s a great thing for a man to walk on the moon. But it’s a greater thing for God to walk the earth.

Life is too short to just Netflix and chill. 

Take a 17 hour road trip. Look for stops along the way. (Like having lunch with your long, lost college friend.) 

All you need is a plastic card, cell phone, and a AAA membership in case the unexpected occurs. Keep chasin' those white lines. 

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Once you arrive to your destination, it will be worth it. Not having cell phone reception is a good thing. Soak it up and take a selfie.

Seek adventure.  

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Write out a bucket list, goals, ambitions, etc. and start checking them off, one-by-one. You're not getting any younger, use a vacation day, and just go. 

I did. 

And it was the best decision ever. 

Zero regrets. 


Building a Personal Brand - Presentation Review


Building a Personal Brand - Presentation Review

"Helping you build your personal brand through my personal experiences," was the title to my presentation I recently gave to a group of K-State agricultural communication majors who are eager to play their card in the adulting game. 

In delivering this message over personal branding, I knew rambling on about X amount of awards won wasn't the point I wanted to make to these youthful minds of tomorrow. So, I shared my own personal, pathetic, down-right pitiful experiences. Because these have been the real foundation for building my own brand and the stories behind photos I capture.

Even though we tend to just "rub some dirt on it" and move on with our lives, we must own our experiences that leaving us feeling calloused. 

There were so many tips I wanted to share such as: don't link your social media accounts, build your Tribe full of influential leaders, and put quality content over quantity. I knew no matter what I said or shared, these students would have to experience hardship to build their backbone strong.

The tips I was able to emphasize on from my own personal stories:

  • First and foremost, set goals.
  • If instead of asking the question, "what do you want to do with your life," ask "what are you aspiring to become that you are not right now?"
  • Focus on creating content that shares positive highlights and struggles your audience can relate to.
  • Build yourself a "Tribe." Everyone needs support. 
  • When you get tired, remember to rest. Not quit.
  • Let your life stories and experiences be what inspires you, good or bad.

No matter the situation, life is how you look at. 

 *Walks out in field and kneels down*  "Look how tall my wheat is!"

*Walks out in field and kneels down*

"Look how tall my wheat is!"

At the end of the day, creating quality, mind stimulating content is the dough of social media. The rest is just sprinkles on top. 



Advance With the World


Advance With the World

To move the profitability needle of your business, you’ve got to have a master plan: defined goals, beginnings and endings, and knowing how to measure success. 

Through my own experience and education, here is a step-by-step ladder for planning and executing what an operation must do to step-up their marketing efforts. In the end the effects of not taking proper action now, may reflect poorly on your bank account later, especially when you’re wondering where all your customers went. 

Fuel your Marketing Engine

Marketing is often the single system that holds back business growth. Perhaps one of the most vital areas of marketing is knowing where your customers are coming from and what their favorite method of communication is. Each potential customer responds differently to marketing methods. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, email, website, etc? Unfortunately, as we pour more of our resources to be on as many media outlets and print platforms as possible, it may be best to select the top, most effective media accounts. Dedicate your precious time to creating an effective, year-round strategy to stay active with your customers. Determine which magazines, newspapers, social media accounts, etc. to be worth your time and money.  

Market to your current and past customers

While you're busy working to attract new customers, you mustn't forget to retain your current ones. Tips I have found to be effective:

  • With current customers, treat them well and always stay in communication.
  • Send out holiday greetings. A practice that does not require much effort, yet still shows every customer you are thankful and continuously think of them.
  • Communicate exciting news around your operation. Customers become invested in an operation and look forward to hearing success stories. This could be in form of a Facebook post, an Email blast or even a mailed Postcard.
  • Capture the image of your operation and share it with good visual material - photography. Quality photos, which can also be turned into video, goes a long way and reaches a mass audience.
  • Customers should receive at least two physical mail pieces from you within a single year. As much as we love technology, physical mail targets the emotional side of marketing than any other form. Research proves this method to be the most successful.

Create the “WOW” feeling

It’s the extra-effort step. When a customer feels “Wowed,” they are likely to relay on positive message to their friends and colleagues. Positive word-of-mouth communication is highly effective and reaps huge benefits, but can only be accomplished when a customer has been once again, “Wowed.”

  • Focus on personal engagement with one another.
  • Spend the extra dollar to ensure it is done right.
  • Properly execute the process of a sale.
  • Create a problem recovery plan. Situations are never be perfect.
  • Out-of-the-Box thinking never hurts.

If nothing else, educate.

Educate customers about what you bring to the table for your business. Educate on sources of information backing up your claims. And most importantly, educate your audience about your operation’s history, values, and beliefs.

This is perhaps the most important way to gain trust. Every business must start from the ground up, and by building the strongest foundation you can, it will create a stable structure for the duration of your business and ultimately lead to future growth and profitability.


Rinkes Ranch Photography


Rinkes Ranch Photography

This ranch photography shoot was a little extra special.

I secretly worked underneath the table with my client, Jessica as the shoot was a birthday surprise for her boyfriend, Brandon who is a rancher located in the heart of the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Flying down dirt roads and adventuring down washed out roads, Jessica and I soon shared a bond for the love of Kansas ranch land. It's something that can't be bought or applied for. It's a natural romance for a particular kind of lifestyle. Learning about her and Brandon's past and future together, I felt even more cherished to provide this service for her.

I spent the afternoon capturing the story of 130 Angus pairs. Brandon soon knew something was up when I received word from Jessica at night time he was wondering why she mysteriously put so many miles on the truck, not to mention the missing fuel. Hmm?

Now that the surprise is over, here are the highlighted photos from the shoot.

Like what you see? Visit my contact page for further photography inquires.


Earth Day | 365 Days


Earth Day | 365 Days

When we take care of the earth, in return the earth takes care of us.

Happy Earth Day. Farmers and Ranchers celebrate this movement by cultivating their land not just one day, but all 365 days out of the year.

Now, go plant a tree or something.


Be a traveler, not a tourist


Be a traveler, not a tourist

A young scholar seeks to appreciate a new world perspective countless miles away from her doormat.



A couple euros tucked away, a portable phone charger in my bag and in my hand was the key to my destination, Italy.

A small navy, leather booklet clearly states my full name (Katelyn Conner Hagans) along with my best mug shot, making up my first ever passport. I was Italy bound and nothing could stop me.

The adrenaline pumping through my veins was a natural source of energy for the next 30-hour traveling time period.

Advice – Always stock up on fruits and healthy snacks before boarding a long plane flight. When traveling for a long period of time, it’s easy to load up on junk food.

After countless hours of sitting and snoozing, we arrived in Milan, one of the largest and most historical cities in Italy. Many of the local’s eyes were on us as we stood out exactly as you would think as American tourists.

To my surprise, communication wasn’t a problem. Many Italians spoke English and signs were easy to comprehend. But immediately, my attention was taken by the Italian fashion.

From cathedrals and towers, to the endless four-course carbohydrate filled meals – including authentic pizza and pasta, I rapidly adapted to the Italian culture. Even better, the different types of Gelato (Italian ice cream) was mouthwatering.

Advice – Don’t make sleep a necessity. Keep going and going and then take an espresso shot (they’re awesome by the way). A ten-day Italian itinerary requires a lot but the sights are worth it.

Culture Divide

Italy is notably different from the American culture. Touring the Italian countryside and historic landmarks made this fact very evident. We traveled from Milan, to Florence and the surrounding countryside and culminating the trip in Rome.

 All of our visits had similar traditions, yet each city was known for their own history and architecture.

Milan – The city known for its lifestyle of enjoying worldly pleasures: a paradise for shopping, football (soccer), opera, and nightlife. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion – fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. Not to be forgotten, the city has more than 26 centuries of history and heritage.

Florence – With the city having over 80 museums, it is considered a cultural, artistic and architectural gem. Florence was also the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement that began in Italy during the 14th century and lasted until the 16th century.

Rome – This city had the most tourist locations with fanny packs and selfie sticks being overly too common. Rome is the capital and largest city of Italy, containing several districts of sightseeing, restaurants and adventures.

Walking down the narrow, cobblestone Italian streets, I felt like I had the world at my young-minded fingertips. So much had been experienced. Wine was freely offered at every meal and I had escaped from almost 10 full days of work and decent Wi-Fi, TEN days.

It was a content feeling, almost an escape from reality. Italian citizens appreciate having quality of living standards and classical items.

For example, Italians encourage having one espresso shot after a meal. They claim it helps with digestion of food. Health is a major consideration in day-to-day life for Italians.

Olive oil and vinaigrette is offered at every table instead of the common salad dressings found in the States. Red wine is a common meal accent and part of the Italian culture.

We were able to take plenty of tours exploring the value of aged cheese or the artistic process of producing wine.

Italians also presented themselves in a high state of fashion on a daily routine. While there I learned about the humorous line, “how to spot an American.” Often, the answer would always include ‘Nike Shoes’. Shoes thought comfortable and sporty in the U.S. are frowned upon as un-fashionable accessories in Italy.

High quality leather items were a popular product found in many of the local markets, and at a significant discount as compared to the U.S.

Another highly appreciated cultural aspect was the architecture. Marble and granite floors with extravagant pillars, many of the museums featured pieces were also tied to architecture. However, standing upon marble and granite floors for hours upon hours wears on the body.

Advice – if you’re ever able to tour the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, ensure you have the proper footwear, purchase your entry tickets ahead of time and soak in every moment spent inside. It is truly extravagant.

Motivation and Reflection

For someone like myself who hadn’t left United States soil before this adventure, I would highly recommend to travel now – while you’re young, have little worries and when you have the time.

It’s the highest quality of education money can buy; hint, you get credit hours with it too. Taking it as a college credit class makes it affordable and much less stressful compared traveling on your own.

Even if visiting another country isn’t in your foreseeable future, bite the bullet and apply for your passport. I used the excuse of not having a passport for not leaving the U.S. for the longest time.

By having my passport, it’s another right to freedom; I’m allowed to travel wherever I please. All it takes is a little effort and a nice mug shot photo.



Be mine - the other 364 days


Be mine - the other 364 days

Here's to the other just-as-important 364 days of the year.

I love my home.

I love a pretty pony.

I love a Kansas wheat harvest.

I love fat calves. And cowboys love girls with fat calves. (So that's a plus.)

Gotta love Sully the Corgi.

And I couldn't love my best friend anymore than I do.


From the eyes - of July 29th, 2015


From the eyes - of July 29th, 2015

It was a hot July afternoon. We were let out to play with mom and dad in the nice, cool, green grass when a grumbling, black pickup I had never witnessed pulled up.

Out stepped a man who was tall and wore a black cap to cover his eyes. I was intrigued. I trudged over to him, wanting to know his scent.


Looking up, there was a sparkle in his eye that met mine. He towered over me and sat down in the grass and quickly gave me attention.


His hands were large and covered a good portion of my small body and stubby legs. Though his hands were massive and rough to the touch, he was a gentle man.


We spent an hour playing, rolling in the grass with my others. I was still with Dad and Mom, knowing they too could sense the man.


Soon time passed and the tall man with the black cap began to count out bills. Then came a hand shake.


The man walked over and picked me up. I was far from the ground, my legs no longer reaching. As nervous as I was, he was protective and comforted me.


Sitting me on the cool, air conditioned leather seats of the black pickup, we soon rolled out of the drive way. I peered out the door I came in to; there wasn’t a way out.


I couldn’t help but whimper due to no longer being with my others. The man held me close to him. I soon fell asleep in his lap during what seemed like a 2-hour drive.


The pickup then came to a slow stop and we soon got out to a cement ground. What was this?


The man held me all of the way inside to a rather large building. I soon became the spot light of attention.


The man picked me out a royal blue, what seemed like a long rope and a small hoop. Something that matched my size. He then sat me in a soft pillow of a bed and ask how I felt.


The more I was with the man, the more I experienced new, comforting things.


Holding me secure in his arms, we went back to the pickup and it slowly began to roll again.


It was getting dark outside when we reached a big white house. The man showed me around and played into the night with me.


My eyes became so heavy I couldn’t bear to pounce and bite with him anymore. Taking me into his lap, the man spent quite some time talking to soft voice. I wasn’t sure where the voice was coming from, for the man was the only one present. I wanted to meet this soft and soothing voice. The voice seemed genuinely excited.


I then found my dinner, served in a cherry-oak feed pan with a matching water pan as well.


I feasted and drank.


The man then carried me to the soft pillow bed I remembered testing out.


I soon started drifting off to sleep, exhausted from this lively day. The man then, with a twinkle in his eye lied down beside me and said, “Goodnight, Sully.”




Agricultural Innovation Is Paving the Way to Feed the 9


Agricultural Innovation Is Paving the Way to Feed the 9

in·no·va·tion (noun) a new method, idea, product, etc.

ag·ri·cul·ture (noun) Originally from Latin (agr “field”) + (cultura “growing, cultivation.”)  = Agriculture, Late Middle English.

The main source of food production comes from land. From land, mankind shows tender stewardship when producing food, which is then turned into personal capital.

More than ever, the world is faced with the ultimatum of doubling food production. Why you may ask? Seems like there’s plenty of food to go around now a days?

Imagine if you went to your local grocery store and the fresh produce laid out, along with the beautiful golden baked goods, and not to forget the meat case full of filling protein, was all found to be empty? “What to do now, there’s no food,” you think to yourself.  

Elanco has recognized that the world population will grow by 2 billion to reach 9 billion by 2050, with the most of the growth coming in the next six years.  

Innovation will help increase productivity and sustainability of food production. . According to the USDA, the 93 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family owned, all of which are in the midst of generation transitions are leaning on innovation as they look into the future. The following topics are variables facing agriculture and food system.

Nutrition Improvement
With worldwide hunger, this may increase risk of global disease and cripple the next generation. The question “How will we feed the 9 billion?” should be extended to, “How will we feed the 9 billion, well?”

Technology Innovation
Technology is major factor that has shaped agriculture for the past 100 years. With cropland and labor decreasing, agriculture has worked around these obstacles to result in increasing the amount of food production.

Climate Change
Agriculture production follows climate change. The development of new agricultural practices and technology will have major impacts on how well food producers can adapt to the climate change. Another obstacle to face.

These are only a few of major topics to consider when imaging tomorrow’s version of food production. With this, there will be a great need of diversity views and input, which will be required to help attack our world food shortage. This can begin on a personal, local, regional, country, and global scale.  

What can one person do to help all of this, you may be asking? Start by learning about current topics and becoming aware of issues that affect all aspects of the food industry: from plate to fork.

By recognizing what we can do to maintain sustainability along with the transformation of innovation, the future of agriculture will be promising for generations to come. Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you. 



Class: Grocery Store 101. Enrolled: 9 billion.


Class: Grocery Store 101. Enrolled: 9 billion.

This summer my lifestyle has done a 360 spin with additional urban twist.

Meaning plenty of opportunities for adventures and learning experiences.

(Key word - “learning experiences”)

My biggest classroom is turning out to be Austin grocery stores such as, Whole Foods. Originally being located in Kansas, you have more personal experience in learning how food is produced than just in a grocery store.

Major differences of grocery stores lie in the segregation of all-natural, organic, farm raised, Grass-Fed and No-Hormone's added labeling of their products. If labels such as these were to appear in the Midwest, there would be backlash and no support for these overpriced products. Coming from a rural, agriculture background, I am one of the very few to carry food knowledge when walking down Austin’s Whole Foods grocery aisles. For readers’ knowledge, I’ve provided background facts.

About Whole Foods

  • Whole Foods’ first store opened in 1980 in Austin, Texas with 19 employees.
  • The Austin location is the largest flagship store with 80,000 square feet. The headquarters is located above of the store, with an ice skating rink on top.
  • Whole Foods maintains an “unacceptable ingredients” list for foods products it sells.
  • Whole Foods offers a micro-lending program to local farmers called “Local Produce Loan Program.”
  • They stopped offering plastic grocery bags on Earth Day 2008. (BYOB – Bring your own bags)
  • Whole Foods has an anti-GMO policy, adopted across all their stores.
  • Whole Foods won’t sell the pain relievers aspirin and ibuprofen, because they are not “natural.”

While millennials may be concentrated on consuming organic and all-natural products, so may their paychecks as well.

Is Whole Foods a realistic part to a millennial's lifestyle? We now have years of student debt, mortgages, car payments; and these so called “savings accounts,” have retired right along with the Baby Boomer generation.

Should our generation be focusing on spending excessive amounts for food products, which are being portrayed as healthier, environmentally friendly and slimming, or should we be concerned about our financial standing?

That question is up to us, as how we choose to spend each dollar earned.

The store does a tremendous job of offering wide varieties of fresh produce, golden bake goods, and many choices of dining inside. In the eyes and hearts of Austin millennials, they truly believe Whole Food’s is the representative of agriculture.