This year the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is celebrating its Centennial. All year we have been looking back at individual members, programs and activities that have made WFBF the organization it is today. I have enjoyed looking at old photos, and it made me realize that it’s our members that have made this organization successful, and each of our members has a story of how Farm Bureau has had an impact on them.
For me, it started many years ago when I was just a kid. Even though I really didn’t know anything about Farm Bureau, the one thing I did know is that Farm Bureau had the best food stand at the fair, and I always had to make sure and stop every year to enjoy a piece of pie and ice cream. After a long day of showing animals at the fair, it was a family tradition to end the day with a piece of pie.
It wasn’t until I graduated high school, that I became more familiar with the organization. In 1997 I had the opportunity to attend the WFBF Annual Meeting as a State FFA Officer. I was impressed with the professionalism of the organization. It was also a great feeling to be around other farmers and people that were passionate about agriculture. I immediately knew that this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.
The next fall our county Farm Bureau president asked me to join Farm Bureau and participate in the Young Farmer discussion meet contest. I was nervous at first, but after I competed in my first district Discussion Meet contest, I immediately knew I wanted to become more involved in this great organization. I enjoyed researching Farm Bureau policy, learning about the issues and coming up with solutions that I could help implement. I also enjoyed meeting many other Young Farmer members throughout the state.
It took me a few years, but finally in 2000 I won the WFBF Discussion Meet contest and had the opportunity to represent WFBF at the AFBF contest. I must admit, growing up in Wisconsin, I assumed everyone was raised on a 40-cow dairy farm. It was at the AFBF annual meeting where my eyes were opened to all the different types of agriculture we have in this country. I was named a top four finalist in the discussion meet that year. In that final round I competed with a hog farmer from Iowa, a grape grower from Georgia and an almond grower from California. Following the contest my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. with other Young Farmers from across the state, which is something we will never forget.
Following the discussion meet, I worked for two years as our county Farm Bureau secretary, where I learned how a county Farm Bureau works and worked closely with our board of directors. In 2002 I was hired as a WFBF field supervisor and started working with twelve counties. Over the next few years my area changed several times, and during that time I worked with 33 different county Farm Bureaus.
I took a short break from Farm Bureau when my husband and I started a family, but soon realized how much I missed working with our members so I jumped at the opportunity to come back and work as a district coordinator in 2011. It is so rewarding working with the seven counties in District 5.
Through all those years, it was the people I met, the conversations I had, and the lifelong friendships made, that have made me love this organization. During this Centennial year, I encourage each of you to think about your own Farm Bureau story. Happy Birthday Farm Bureau!
This Centennial story was shared by WFBF’s District 5 Coordinator Becky Hibicki.