In the past thirty years, I’ve had several opportunities to travel the world… Scotland and England, France, Brazil and Argentina, Ukraine and Poland, New Zealand, South Africa and Namibia… but one of my best international experiences was 30 miles from home. When Jane Cragie and Rebecca Dawes brought Scots and Aussies together on the Gilkison’s family farm in central Kentucky, it was truly an international festival of ideas.

And while ideas are great, if they’re just ideas, they may die in our minds. It’s when the ideas take root and grow that they find themselves harvested as stories. That’s what the Ideas Festival at ILAC 2017 was…the stories of successful ideas. The idea that people would travel to Scotland to make their own stories of fun or romance in one beautiful part of the world framed by water. Or, that they’d travel to the dissimilarly beautiful desolation of the dryness of Australia… some to make the stories that we call movies… so that others could experience their stories.

We hope that we were successful in sharing the stories of Kentucky. From Daniel Boone himself (who didn’t wear a coon-skin cap), to the beautiful horses and the flowing bourbon that are the trademark ag industries of our part of the world. But the story I’m proudest of is the Gilkison family who are willing to try almost any idea in the optimistic farmer hope that some of them will grow into success stories. Whether it’s traditional Kentucky crops of corn and soybeans and tobacco, or the specialty corns of many colors, or the raspberries that are always black, or the hemp that holds promises for the future,  the Gilkisons are the ones who answer the question of, “Have you tried that?” with “Not yet. “

To find out more about the Gilkison family visit their website, and to hear Steve’s story and why storytelling is so important to him click on the video below.

Dr. Steve Isaacs is a Co-Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program (KALP) and Ag Economics Professor at the University of Kentucky. He visited Scotland in 2016 with the KALP and organised the International Leadership Alumni Conference (ILAC) in October 2017. This was attended by a number of Scottish Enterprise Rural Leaders including Jane Craigie and Rebecca Dawes who delivered an Ideas Festival as part of the ILAC event.