Imagine meeting a shy, young high school girl with brown eyes, dark hair and the typical brace-face appearance. She was a minority. The only real farm girl in her class and who always felt the need to try and fit in with her classmates. Although involved in multiple school organizations, she was very quiet and would get nervous talking to strangers or anyone new. She was a girl that once got picked on for not having the “in” look in middle school, being overweight and only having a couple pairs of pants that fit.
Flash forward ten years and you are going to meet the same woman, but one that left her shell behind. Pursuing a secondary education and becoming a member of the Grant County and Wisconsin Farm Bureaus was a new beginning. She branched by practicing her public speaking, meeting others involved in agriculture who shared her dreams and not being afraid to grow and exhibit the kind of potential that she always had. You never would have thought this woman would meet new people almost every day, visiting farmers on a daily basis to help assist them with their livestock marketing options. This woman has learned how to find common ground in order to strike up a conversation with complete strangers and now views new experiences as opportunities and she owes part of this to her involvement in Farm Bureau.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the woman I am writing about is me!
I had heard about the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute through a friend who said it was a good experience, both professionally and personally. Since this friend had never led me down the wrong path before, I thought, “Why not give it a try?”
Never did I imagine how great this experience would be and we have only made it through our third session so far. You might be thinking, “Everyone says that after participating in the Institute.” I’m not just saying it; I am living some of the best days of my life with the people who are in this group.
At the first session in Madison, we all met for the first time and to be honest, I thought it was going to be a long year since everyone was very reserved at the beginning. We all had to come prepared with a 3-minute speech to begin the public speaking course. We had to share these same speeches with each other so many times that by the end of the day, we had bypassed all possible embarrassing moments already and realized that we all just wanted to see each other succeed and do well. It was overwhelming, and a relief at the same time as we continued our conversations and grew our friendships into the coming hours.
Our next session we had to come prepared with presentations that focused on our leadership skills, as well as getting us used to working together in groups. Our creativity capabilities were challenged as we participated in the “Why Looking Isn’t Seeing” workshop.
The third class showed us how important it is that we share the truth and positive light about the agriculture industry through social media networks. We again, got time to socialize with each other and it was then that I realized, we were more than just the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute Class X: we were a family.
We have already started discussing a fun, summer outing so that we could see each other before our next class. Since I’m from a small family and our gatherings don’t happen very often, this really gave me something to look forward to in the coming months.
Not only do you grow and improve as an individual as you participate in this leadership Institute, but you also gain lifelong friendships with people who would have your back no matter what. They are truly remarkable people, and as Craig Culver told us, “Surround yourself with people who are talented, but also have heart.”
So I would like to end with a simple question, “Why wouldn’t you apply to be a part of your own Farm Bureau family?”
Tammy grew up on River View Farm, which has been in her family since 1848. She currently owns 25 head of beef cattle (Angus and Shorthorn) out of their 110 head, as well as manages her own business called RiverView Photography. She graduated with an animal science and communications degree from the University of Wisconsin- Platteville and started working as a field representative in Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa for Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association shortly after graduation.
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