George and I went to our very first Farm Bureau meeting in December of 1969, before we were members, and shortly after our third child was born. George was 26 and I was 22. It was a district young farmer event and we were hooked. We signed up as Calumet County members soon after. We found it great to be with like-minded people who had some of the same problems and struggles we were facing. Somehow it felt good knowing we weren’t in the boat all alone. Since we were young and poor, it was good to be able to go out without it costing us lots of money. It was also good to know that legislatively we belonged to an organization that could help with some things that needed changing. It was an extra eye watching out for our farming interests.
We soon became active and George became Young Farmer chairman for our county. About six or seven years later George was elected Calumet County Farm Bureau president and he served in that position for five years. I served on the Calumet County Woman’s Committee during that same time period.
Farm Bureau meetings were always a learning experience and working with our legislators through this organization helped us realize how important Farm Bureau is. I remember how hard we all worked on the S.T.O.P campaign and what a difference that has made over the years in the amount of property taxes farmers had to pay on their cropland. It’s just one example of the importance of our Farm Bureau dues.
After George retired from the Calumet County board of directors he was elected to the state Farm Bureau Board of Directors and the Rural Mutual Insurance Board. This gave him many experiences, including spending time on the American Farm Bureau Federation Grain Committee and also the chance to visit our members of Congress in Washington, D.C. Later on I was nominated to our state Women’s Committee and eventually was elected as the chairperson of that committee. What a great learning experience for me.
It was my privilege for many years to donate one of my paintings to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation Silent Auction at our state Annual Meeting. What a thrill for me to actually see people willing to pay for one of my paintings.
We were always proud to be farmers and also proud to be Farm Bureau members.
Centennial story shared by Calumet County Farm Bureau member Betty Engle.