It has been about 1,100 miles since my last blog and it’s been crazy. Farm Bureau has a relatively small staff and when someone new is hired, I always get questions from members about them. So, I took a few minutes to ask our newest staff member Rob Richard, Senior Director of Government Relations, a few questions. Check it out…
WK: So, Rob, welcome to the Farm Bureau team! Would you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself. Your family, where you grew up, etc.?
RR: I grew up in the very southwest corner of the state in Kieler, WI. It’s right across the river from Dubuque, IA, but definitely has a rural-agricultural feel to it. I attended CubaCityHigh School and UW-Platteville where I majored in history. After graduating in May of 1995 I found my way to Madison.
While I didn’t grow up on a farm, our neighbors directly across the road farmed and I had two uncles in the Kieler area who farmed as well. I spent plenty of summers playing out there as a youngster and eventually started helping out a bit baling hay or straw and doing other little odd jobs around the farm.
I now live outside of Mazomanie with my wife Carrie and two children, Jonah (9) and Violet (3).
WK: What made you decide to join the Farm Bureau team?
RR: After 15 years of working in the Legislature I knew I wanted to do something more. I loved my role in the majority leader’s office, but long term I knew I wanted a change. Having children changes your perspective on a lot of things, but my wife and I are set on making sure they understand and appreciate the rural/agricultural life that she and I grew up with. We just don’t want to teach it to them, we want to live it. Moving to Farm Bureau seemed like a natural fit to help us integrate into that lifestyle change and provide an educational opportunity for our children. More importantly, I wanted to carry this passion into a career where I can be on the front lines to positively influence farm policy in the state.
WK: That’s great to hear! And we are excited to welcome you to the Farm Bureau family. Would you share with us who your role model is and why?
RR: Both of my parents. Their love and support has guided me to who I am today. I can’t thank them enough for the upbringing they provided me.
WK: What is your superpower?
RR: Not sure it’s a superpower, but I can bend both of my thumbs back pretty far. It freaks people out.
WK: Well, that’s interesting and I would agree, maybe not so much a superpower, but something to use to scare people away. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere! When we sit here again a year from now, what would you like to have accomplished in your current role?
RR: I want to be an effective lobbyist for this organization. I want to win on issues that are critically important to the agricultural community. I also want to educate our members on how important it is for them to communicate with their legislators. So many people are hesitant or shy when it comes to talking with policy makers. Don’t be! Make your voices heard. I always try to remind people, “Legislators were YOU before they got elected.”
WK: That’s great advice. Now, this is where the questions are going to get tough. What is your favorite app to use. Either on your phone, on the ipad, etc.?
RR: I love my flashlight app. That thing has really helped out a few times.
WK: I really thought you were going to share with everyone the latest and greatest app on something government related, but I agree, the flashlight app can come in handy. Next question! What is on your playlist? And, it’s ok if it’s only Dolly Parton or Bryan White. We will understand.
RR: I listen to a little of everything – depends on the mood. On any given day, I can go from Johnny Cash to Eminem to Metallica to Mozart to Stevie Ray Vaughn.
WK: I didn’t notice Dolly or Bryan on that list so I will be sure to share some of their music with you. And here is the toughest question yet, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
RR: Culver’s double fudge brownie is pretty irresistible.
WK: Sounds yummy. Feel free to bring samples to a staff meeting someday. Speaking of staff, be honest, who is your favorite District Coordinator?
RR: Like my children, I love them all equally.
WK: Wow! You answered that question just like a politician. Well done. If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?
RR: First of all, that movie wouldn’t cost much to make and it would lose money. As much as I hate everything about Hollywood, I’d have to go with Gary Sinise. He’s a solid actor, but more importantly, I truly respect what he does for veteran causes. He’s a bright spot in the cesspool that is Hollywood.
WK: I appreciate that you picked someone with good character. For those of our “fans” who don’t know who Gary Sinise is, he is most notably known for his role as Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump” and George in “Of Mice and Men.” Still not sure? Google him.
Rob, thanks for your time and welcome again to the Farm Bureau team! If you see Rob out and about at Farm Bureau meetings, make sure to stop, say hello and introduce yourself.
Until next time!
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