Dan Toland, a 2005 agricultural communication graduate, took the agricultural world by storm as he introduced and implemented the use of social media to promote and enhance agriculture.
Now a Delta Theta Sigma Fraternity alum, Dan spent time in college honing his communication skills as the editor of the AgriNaturalist and as an intern as a correspondent for Farm World newspaper.
After working at a sportswear company in Wooster, OH in the role of sales, service, and graphic design following graduation, Dan landed a job at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in 2007. At OFBF Dan was the website editor while also writing for the Buckeye Farm News and Our Ohio publications.
At the time when social media was emerging as a big driving force in the communication world, Dan was assigned the role of taking it on at OFBF. Making head-turning moves, Dan created a social media platform for OFBF that caught the attention of organizations across the country. The impact and presence that OFBF had in the digital world due to Dan’s adept attention to their social media was groundbreaking for an agricultural organization to do.
Realizing that having farmers tell their own stories was the most effective way to get a message across, Dan posted a guide for farmers to use social media for “agvocacy” on Ohio Farm Bureau’s website. This “guide” bolstered Dan’s expertise and he soon found himself traveling all over Ohio conducting training for farmers and agribusiness professionals to use social media as an effective form of their communication and agricultural advocacy.
Calls from various publications and other organizations around the country started pouring in, all asking Dan the same question- “How was agriculture applying social media?” Dan became a featured speaker, presenter, and trainer at conferences both national and international. He was invited to speak not only on behalf of the agricultural industry, but oftentimes solely because of his grasp on social media as a whole. These successes helped him transition into the role of director of digital strategy for Ohio Farm Bureau, at the same time becoming involved with the AgChat Foundation.
Today, Dan’s professional career has led him to a position as an account manager for Wilt Public Relations, which is a small startup, full-scale public relations, marketing, and communications firm based in Springfield, Ohio. Specializing in biosciences, the company helps clients in the agriculture, energy and environment, and health and wellness sectors with any and all of their communication needs.
Dan is thankful for a very progressive, trusting and flexible boss, who allows him to have a very good work-life balance. Dan works out of my home office in Findlay, Ohio, 60-75 percent of the time, while also making regular trips to the Springfield office as well as client visits and such.
“In addition to account management, you could also say that I’m the office technology nerd. I am a big proponent of taking advantage of today’s technology to enhance work and collaboration, allowing our workforce to work where they want, how they want and always be connected and have everything a their fingertips to get their job done,” says Dan.
For future or current students, Dan says that the opportunities in agriculture are there for the taking. While internships are key in gaining experience, he stressesthe importance of staying humble and applying an attitude of continual learning and improvement.
He advises to view social networks as living, breathing resumes for prospective employers, so it is a smart idea to take a solid inventory and evaluation of how you represent yourself online.
Dan loves spending time with his family, including wife Stephanie, 7-year-old daughter Lily, and 1-year-old son Oliver. A Cleveland sports fanatic, Dan admits the Cleveland Browns have shortened his lifespan, but his loyalty is unyielding, and this loyalty for Cleveland is shown as Dan admitted, “I cried for three days after the Cavs FINALLY brought a championship to Cleveland.” With the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, you can bet that family time in the Toland household is consisting of a lot of baseball-watching.