As a District Coordinator, I get asked a lot of questions about Farm Bureau. The most common one being “What is Farm Bureau?”
This is always a tough one for me, although I’m sure you’re confused by that. You would think that this would be the easiest question an employee or member could be asked. The easy answer is reciting the generic “the largest general farm organization in the state of Wisconsin” which tends to flow out as smooth as melted butter. But for many of us Farm Bureau is so much more than that.
It’s the organization that has the backs of farmers across the state and the nation. It’s the organization that fights to keep our right to farm and provides tools, tours, leadership development, personal and professional development.
To those that are really involved, it’s also our second family. It’s where we feel at home. It’s the group that our neighbor, friend or family member sucked us into getting involved with but after while it became something we couldn’t go without.
Farm Bureau takes us out of our comfort zone and gives us the confidence to speak up. It provides us a voice when we can’t find our own. For some it gives a place to share our deepest worries about the future of agriculture, our families and what’s happening on Capitol Hill.
As a staff member, it’s even more than just being a member. You get to help cultivate farmers and agriculturists of all ages. You get to help county Farm Bureau boards set goals, face challenges and watch them work together to overcome obstacles. You get to be a cheerleader in a world full of downers. Your extended family grows exponentially and before you know it you are celebrating engagements, weddings, births and graduations. You become the shoulder to lean on during tough times and the one to help them dust themselves off when they fall.
So, next time you hear a member or Farm Bureau staff stumble answering “What is Farm Bureau?” remember it’s not that we don’t know what it is. It’s just hard to simplify it to a few words because until you become a member and join the Farm Bureau family it’s hard to understand.
Ashleigh Calaway grew up in Lafayette County and is a graduate of UW-River Falls with a degree in agricultural education. Along with her husband, Josh, she served on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee, representing District 8 and now is the district coordinator for that area. She is responsible for working with county Farm Bureaus to develop and implement programs to serve Farm Bureau members and to coordinate membership recruitment and retention efforts.