What happens when 1,000 young ag leaders gather for a meeting?
Something powerful. This past weekend, Danielle and I joined a group of Young Farmers and Agriculturists from Wisconsin to attend the 2014 National Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach. The experience was very powerful.
Although this wasn’t our first agricultural conference, nor our first leadership conference, it was the first national leadership assembly that we’ve felt compelled to participate in year after year. The National Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) conference never disappoints with a great venue, fantastic food, aggressive agenda, talented speakers and an invigorating spirit. We’ve been so impressed by the conference that for the past three years we have continued to invest our own money to participate in the event.
Why is it important for young ag leaders to come together?
The future of agriculture, and Farm Bureau, is dependent on all ag leaders working together toward a common goal. YF&R is unique because the members are the exact people to direct and lead the future of our organization. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘All Hands on Deck’ and all of the activities involved a theme of cooperation to achieve a common goal. The conference program included a variety of events that offered opportunities for young ag leaders to network, learn, donate and participate in hands-on activities.
Why ‘All Hands on Deck’?
Participating in this year’s conference made it evident that the responsibility for the success of the agricultural industry is dependent upon each person involved with it. Call it an added responsibility – our interests in agriculture come with a vested interest in the future. Young ag leaders are the individuals whom acknowledge the responsibility and are called to lead others to ‘get on deck’ to help with the responsibility.
What does it mean to me (and you)?
I am leaving Virginia Beach with a new perspective of my role as the chair for the Wisconsin YFA program. My role offers a unique opportunity for personal growth. It also comes with the responsibility to organize and engage our young leaders to take responsibility (and ownership) in the future of our organization. For you, this means that I’m here to help. We are all brought together by our interest in agriculture, but our passion is our burden. Our future is bright but it has no guarantees and is facing opposition from people with very negative and sometimes harmful intentions.
Where to from here?
We have an exciting future with the interest in leadership growth in the YFA program. Our state committee is strong and boasts many creative ideas to expand our social opportunities, fundraising capabilities, stewardship initiatives and many other areas of our growing organization. The time is now, more than ever, to empower all our ag leaders to get ‘all hands on deck.’