Members and Youth Served Well Through the Years
Throughout its history, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation has placed a high priority on sponsoring and conducting programs that provide valuable services, information and training for members and Wisconsin youth. Through the decades, those programs have evolved as members’ wants and needs have changed. Some have been discontinued, while others have had new programs take their place. The following are just a few of the programs that Farm Bureau has proudly sponsored during its first 100 years.
Youth Citizenship Seminar
In 1980, the Youth Citizenship Seminar was created to give freshman and sophomore high school students a better understanding of their duties and responsibilities as American citizens. The three-day seminar was a project of the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and was held on the UW-Stevens Point campus from 1980 to 1990 before moving to UW-Oshkosh from 1991 to 2002. The event featured a variety of speakers and group activities focused on patriotism, freedom and social responsibility.
First Care Program
In 1986, the First Care Program was introduced in Wisconsin. Created by Dr. Allen Van Beek, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Minneapolis, the program was designed to help farm family members prepare for a life-threatening farm accident through a rehearsed, step-by-step response training. Although taking safety precautions on the farm is a crucial life-saving step, the primary focus of First Care was how to respond after an accident has happened.
The program was first introduced by Minnesota Farm Bureau and was then adopted by county Farm Bureaus in northwest Wisconsin. Counties participating in the program provided a four-hour training course, usually facilitated by members with medical training.
Miss Farm Bureau Program
In 1939, Mary Swanton was named the first Miss Wisconsin Farm Bureau to serve as the organization’s goodwill ambassador. In 1960, after a 21-year hiatus, the program was renewed, with each county Farm Bureau selecting a county candidate to vie for the title of Miss Wisconsin Farm Bureau. The winner was selected during the WFBF Annual Meeting for a one-year reign.
Miss Wisconsin Farm Bureau attended a variety of state and county Farm Bureau events and represented the organization at agricultural meetings throughout the state. For a time, she also represented Wisconsin in the Miss Farm Bureau competition at the American Farm Bureau convention. In 1995, following the discontinuation of the national Miss Farm Bureau program, Wisconsin’s program was replaced by a statewide scholarship program.
FFA Farm Forum
For 48 years, WFBF has hosted the FFA Farm Forum, a two-day conference designed to provide FFA members with information on a variety of agricultural topics. Wisconsin FFA members had previously attended a similar conference at Illinois State University, until January 1972 when WFBF and affiliates collaborated to sponsor the first FFA Farm Forum in Stevens Point.
Since then, thousands of high school juniors have represented their FFA chapter at the annual event, which is now held in Wisconsin Rapids and is scheduled to coincide with National FFA Week in February. FFA Farm Forum continues to provide training for young people who are preparing for a career in agriculture, with an emphasis on topics that are of concern to production agriculture. It also familiarizes them with opportunities for further involvement with collegiate Farm Bureau and the Young Farmer and Agriculturist program.
Look for more history summaries in the upcoming issues of Rural Route. Excerpts from “Seventy-Five Years of Farm Bureau in Wisconsin” were used for this article.
This article was originally published in the August|September 2019 issue of Rural Route.