Cole the Cornstar records a segment for his wildly popular YouTube channel. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)
Cole the Cornstar: Part educator, part entertainer, part motivational speaker
January 20, 2021 | Ann Clinton
For a 23-year-old central Iowa farmer, educating the public about farming has created notoriety that reaches around the world.
The YouTube personality, who goes by the name of Cole the Cornstar, started his channel with the intention of being “a megaphone for agricultural education and innovation.” As his popularity has skyrocketed, the fourth-generation farmer has been able to diversify Cornstar Farms by leveraging sponsorships and corporate support.
Cole, who farms with his father and brother, says the team then invests their earnings back into their operation. The extra income has allowed for equipment upgrades, grain storage updates and other farming investments that have catapulted them into financial security.
“I want to show people the American dream is not dead,” says Cole. “That’s one reason I make six videos a week. If someone asks me how we make it work, I have hundreds of videos showing exactly how we do it.”
Cole takes the responsibility of being an agricultural advocate in stride by keeping his content authentic and relatable. He says he is simply transparent and shows it how it is. He addresses day-to-day life on the farm, educating viewers each step of the way with a high-energy, matter-of-fact approach.
“Farming is not what it was 40 years ago,” Cole explains. “It’s a whole different game. We are operating with a lot of technology now and you have to be very scientific in your thinking. Decisions need to be factual, although there’s a lot of calculated risks involved. You have to push yourself.”
Check out the Cornstar family on their YouTube channel, “Cole the Cornstar” — see if you can spot where ISA is featured in this video!
A Conversation with Cole:
Cast of Characters?
Cole the Cornstar, Daddy Cornstar, Cooper (Cole’s brother) and Sable (Cornstar Farms’ hired hand.)
Who is watching?
- 450,000 YouTube subscribers
- 83% of viewers are male and 17% are female.
- 75% of audience are aged 25-55
- Majority of views come from the Midwest, but visits are logged worldwide.
- Audience is half rural and half urban-dwelling.
Why the name Cole the Cornstar?
“I was brainstorming the name of the YouTube channel with friends. The idea happened at 11:30 one night, and I got up the next morning and got started on it. It was just meant to be.”
What makes your channel unique?
“One gift God gave me is to take complicated things and make them interesting,” says Cole. “I embrace that gift, formulate the content and make videos. Plus, I can be entertaining.”
Why the mass appeal?
“A lot of people who have never been on a farm are following us,” says Daddy Cornstar. “So that’s kinda neat for us. They are learning. We’re not anything special out here, but they have taken to us. It’s nice.”
Recent popular post?
“Our derecho video hit almost a million views,” says Cole. “There wasn’t a lot of reporting on the storm, other than local news sources. The rest of the country really didn’t know about it, so when they searched for more information about the storm in Iowa, our video popped up.”
“I want to show young people that by putting your mind to something, and actually doing it, you can achieve it,” says Cole, “It’s going to take time, but if you stay persistent enough, it will happen.”
Message for the urban sector?
“The 4x4 on the side of the pickup truck does not mean we only work four weeks in spring and four weeks in fall,” says Cooper.
Advice for wannabe agricultural advocates?
“I’d tell everybody to start a YouTube channel,” says Cole. “I think it’s the best way. Farmers can talk farm talk all day. YouTube allows them to get their farm talk fix by watching other farmers farm.”
Benefits of the soybean checkoff on your farm?
“Commodity organizations do so much for us behind the scenes,” says Daddy Cornstar. “They are out there promoting our products in ways we just can’t do.”
“I watched my grandpa work hard every day of his life, sacrificing so much just so that he could throw everything he had back into the farm,” Cole says of his grandfather, who passed away in 2018. “I want to honor that legacy and do him proud. He’d be tickled by all this. He had a very distinct laugh, and if he was here, I think we’d get a lot of that out of him. He’d be amazed that all these people are watching from all around the world.
*Editor’s note: Cole’s real last name and exact farming location is purposely not reported per his request for privacy.
This story was originally published in the January 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.