Popular host to speak at 2023 grain growers convention
By Trista Crossley
Editor, Wheat Life
Agriculture has a tale to tell, but finding a way to tell it is sometimes difficult. That’s where Rob Sharkey, aka “The SharkFarmer,” comes in.
Rob and his wife, Emily, have created a platform for farmers to tell their story through their SharkFarmer podcast and hosting programs on RFD-TV, PBS, and Sirius XM radio. The couple own a farm in Illinois and are the owners of a whitetail deer outfitter. Rob will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2023 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention Nov. 14-16 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Creating a successful media platform wasn’t always a smooth process. The Sharkeys had to learn the technical aspects of creating content, often by watching YouTube videos, and they were covering topics that weren’t often talked about in traditional ag media.
“Our thought was that we were going to provide that platform for people in agriculture who really never got a platform before. If someone had a very cool story, really, the only way they would get it out there is if a farm magazine would come interview them or a TV show or something like that,” Rob explained. “When social media and podcasts started to crank up, all of sudden, the platform could be available for anybody. We are just finding all these incredible stories in ag out there, from farmers, from ag professionals, from even ag media. It’s like we couldn’t record them fast enough.”
On their programs, the Sharkeys work to keep the “farmer-ese” to a minimum. Even though the stories are mostly from a farmer’s perspective, Rob said the response overall has been positive. He said some of the notes and letters they’ve received have really touched him.
“It kind of takes your breath away,” he said. “You are letting someone else tell their story, and I don’t realize how much it is going to affect someone else at the time. That makes me feel really good.”
In his speaking gigs, Rob usually focuses on his family’s story, not just going from a corn and soybean farmer to a media shark, but his earlier experiences growing up on a farm.
“I came out of college and then worked for my dad for a couple of years. We got into hogs at the absolute worst time you could get into hogs. It drove us to the verge of bankruptcy,” he said. “I’m going to talk for 45 minutes about how I failed at so many things. Literally, I’ve made some huge mistakes, but I’m not a failure, and I’d love to get that message across — don’t be afraid of trying stuff just because you are afraid of failing.”
For more information on Rob and Emily Sharkey, visit their website at sharkfarmer.com. To register for the 2023 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention, visit our online registration form. Early bird registration ends Oct. 25.