Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a trip to Boone County on Thursday, visiting with Centralia farmers Dustin and Austin Stanton of Stanton Brothers Eggs to discuss millennial entrepreneurship and community building.
The visit was one of the last places on Zuckerberg’s tour of the U.S., which he announced in a Facebook post Jan. 3. He said the tour was a personal challenge “to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future.”
The nationwide trip focused on speaking with small business owners and concluded with the announcement of a new program, Facebook Community Boost. Zuckerberg said the goal of the program is "to help small businesses in the US grow, and to help more people get the digital skills those businesses need."
Dustin Stanton, 25, said that Zuckerberg had read a national story about the brothers and wanted to meet them, organizing the visit six weeks in advance.
When the brothers received a call about Zuckerberg coming to visit, they were surprised.
“It was a legitimate source, but I didn’t believe it,” Dustin said.
While showing Zuckerberg the farm during the two-and-a-half-hour visit, the trio discussed topics ranging from millennial entrepreneurship to foreign policy.
“It was a good experience. He’s a very genuine man; he really does care about what he’s talking about,” Dustin said.
Co-owner Austin Stanton, 21, shared that sentiment, saying the biggest takeaway for him was that Zuckerberg “actually cared about people in the heartland.”
“It was exciting to have him here,” he said. “In a way, it was just like another guy...other than having all the bodyguards with him.”
In a Facebook post, Dustin reflected on the conversation and made comparisons between their respective companies, saying they had the same goals.
“Whether headquartered in the Silicon Valley of California or in the flatlands of Centralia, Missouri, we believe in fighting for a stronger America and a more prosperous tomorrow,” Dustin said.