Getting to Know Animal Expert Jack Hanna

I wrote this post about top ten things I learned about Jack Hanna for my blog and thought I’d share here too since the post was enabled by being at the AFBF Annual Meeting. 

There are people who through TV seem to have always been a part of your life but you rarely get to look behind the curtain so to speak, and see what kind of people they are. I have had the chance to meet various people through conventions or pure happenstance and I have to say that animal expert Jack Hanna has probably made the most lasting impression.

Let me explain my encounters with Jack Hanna though before I get to the top 10 things I learned or thought of as I traveled home from AFBF13.

penguins at a pancake breakfastObviously, I have seen him on TV for years (I am a Letterman fan). But last year in Hawaii he came to the American Farm Bureau meeting and gave talks in the trade show. I caught one of his presentations and thought that was nice.

This year’s Farm Bureau took it to the next level as I heard him do a longer, more personal presentation during a pancake breakfast on Sunday. Throughout the trade show I saw him doing his presentation too (my favorite part was the two-toed sloth – loved the fur and the fact it sleeps all day, afterall, I have a deep love of morning sleep). Finally, I saw he and his wife at the airport.

So now the top 10 which will shed more light on the encounter. Please know that I don’t know for certain Jack Hanna’s story, but these are things I have running through my mind.

  1. He has followed his passion. Early in life he realized he had a real passion for animals and he found a way to make that his career. Too few of us are able to figure that out and follow a path that lets us practice our passion routinely. I am blessed to get a paycheck for doing things I’m truly passionate about too. He first cultivated the passion while working for the family’s veterinarian in the Knoxville area, he’s had a pet store and directed the Columbus Zoo.
  2. His passion is always evident. If you have ever seen Jack Hanna do a guest spot on a TV show, you have seen the excitement he shows whenever he has animals around him and is especially excitement to share information about them in a way that people remember and love. Love the enthusiasm.
  3. Hanna has a deep love of his family. Throughout his stories, he spoke to various things that involved his family. You could tell he’s in a good place. And what’s really cool is that as I came through the airport, his wife Sue seemed the same pointing out small things like where he’s from as she chatted with fellow passengers. I love celebrating the new accomplishments of my board-certified teaching sis, sharing a school project with one nephew or taking a niece for her first farm trip. I hope that as I talk about them, people see the connections!
  4. He knows what is truly important and acts on it. One of the stories he told on Sunday that was especially touching was about how he came to be connected to the sponsor of the event, Nationwide Insurance. His connection to the company is much deeper than sponsorship. He said he owed them eternal gratitude as the company is responsible for his daughter’s health after a serious illness since they are major supporters of the Columbus Children’s Hospital.Jack Hanna & me
  5. He is generous with his time. Throughout the show, Hanna posed for photos, signed autographs, etc. At the airport, it was the same. He stopped, pulled photos from his bag and signed one to each of the TSAs who wanted one. They were thrilled. And as you can see, he was nice enough to do the same for several of us. I mentioned that my nephew has always loved animals and used to dream of being a zookeeper. He asked his name & wrote out an autograph.
  6. When action is required, he gives it his best shot and learns from mistakes. When he was talking about working for a vet as a teenager, he told the story of his being the only person there as a cow had trouble calving. And while he was on the phone with the vet finding out what needed to be done, it became clear that he’d have to do it. Pulling a calf is hard (so I hear and this AgProud post explains why calving season is tough) and he hadn’t done it. He listened to the directions & worried about having to do it but went ahead. While he made a mistake (he said he ended up pulling the back legs instead of the front legs), it all turned out okay.
  7. There is a genuineness with he and his wife. I guess I’ve sort of pointed to this already in part, but, I love that the Hannas were really talking with whoever they were with.  As he talked to some TSAs, she chatted with another passenger who was sure his daughters would be pumped about the run-in. She then complimented me on my necklace — yep, it is a cotton boll piece I bought at Beltwide.  When I mentioned I worked for Monsanto, he remarked he had noticed us at the show.
  8. He is willing to put his time toward things that are important. He thinks animal conservation is important too and its obvious that he’s done incredible amounts of work to raise the profile Sunday’s breakfast was to support agriculture education programs like My American Farm.
  9. He knows there is middle ground in topics that sometimes get polarized. It was interesting to me that he brought up the issues happening now with wolves. He says wolves are problems on farms & ranches, mainly because people keep encroaching on their habitats with suburbanization. But he also understands that when wolves begin to attack humans, control efforts will get put into place. He wants to do what is fair and right.
  10. Schedules are different for a lot of city folks and farmers. One of the very first things he told us has stuck with me. He mentioned Saturday evening as he left for Nashville that he had a 7 a.m. breakfast talk to give and the guy said asked who in the world would come to hear a speaker that early. Hanna enjoyed pointing out that farmers are up early all the time — they have to put in long days to feed all of us! So true.

I really encourage you to follow him on TV and social media. You can find Jack Hanna on:

Janice AKA JPLovesCotton is Janice Person, a city girl who loves cotton and biotechnology. Her work at Monsanto includes blogging and social media outreach. A colorful adventure is her personal blog. Follow her on Twitter (@JPLovesCotton). .

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