Rural Route Opinion Column: Wendy Kannel
Let’s face it, we’ve heard and said it a million times, “It’s just really busy right now.”
Each of us are faced with a multitude of responsibilities each day. Our farms, businesses, families, friends, volunteering and, of course, Farm Bureau are just a few things that make the list. But how and when do we stop to evaluate where we are at and make priorities in our lives so we can continue to learn and grow?
Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and thought about how busy you were but felt like you never really accomplished anything?
When was the last time you really stopped to think and reflect on what is happening in your day-to-day?
Self-reflection allows us the time to look at our thoughts, feelings and actions. Just spending 15 minutes a day to stop and reflect can help provide clarity from all that needs to be done.
Within the agriculture community, we value the relationships we have built and often put others before ourselves. But what are your priorities? Write them down. Ask your family and friends to help and try to find balance between treating yourself and giving to others. Putting yourself first can be difficult, but if you aren’t able to take care of you, who will? What opportunities will you take advantage of to help yourself learn and grow?
As Farm Bureau members, I challenge you to look at the opportunities that are available through our organization to grow personally and professionally. If you are looking for something to take you outside your comfort zone, consider applying for the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute, a year-long program devoted to building leaders. Throughout the year, you will see what makes you the person and leader you already are by diving into your strengths, understanding emotional intelligence and challenging you to think outside of the box. It will help you tell your story while learning more about Farm Bureau and how you can be an active and engaged member. Most of all, the connections you make with your classmates and facilitators who are a part of the program will be priceless. These people will become your biggest supporters and help you develop even more as a leader. Not sold on the Leadership Institute quite yet?
Let me introduce you to Shane Goplin, a Farm Bureau member for 18 years who has held various leadership positions through Farm Bureau including serving his county as president and multiple terms on WFBF committees. While Shane had been an effective leader within our organization, he thought his leadership opportunities had plateaued until he learned about the Leadership Institute. When I asked him about what he gained, he mentioned that his participation provided him with so many other opportunities. He has shared his story with reporters from the New York Times, built confidence in himself and made connections with many others inside and outside the agriculture community. Because he has taken advantage of personal development, he feels he can better serve Farm Bureau members because those members have confidence in him to lead and serve.
The Leadership Institute is a large time commitment, so if you are looking for a way to ‘dip your toe in the water,’ there are many other leadership development opportunities within Farm Bureau. The Leadership Boot Camp, hosted by the WFBF Promotion and Education Committee, is a one-day conference focusing on different topics each year. This is a great refresher for past Institute participants or a way to fit personal and professional development into a busy schedule.
WFBF also hosts monthly Lunch and Learn webinars that can be viewed from the comfort of your own home, barn or office. Past topics include agricultural advocacy, farm safety, nutrition labeling and policy development.
County Farm Bureaus across the state also are looking for members to serve on boards, committees or help with individual events throughout the year. Have a knack for something that brings you joy – graphic design, taking photos, talking to people or organizing events? Your local Farm Bureau is probably looking for assistance, which is an opportunity to grow your skill set or try something new. Your opportunities to learn and grow through Farm Bureau are there if you choose to take them.
As we move into fall, and you will likely be spending countless hours in a tractor, truck or combine, I challenge you to reflect on your priorities for 2020. What skills, talents or time can you offer to your county Farm Bureau? What personal or professional development opportunities will you pursue?
I cannot wait to see what you learn and how you can help make Farm Bureau a strong voice for farmers across our state.
This column originally appeared in the October|November 2019 Rural Route.
Wendy Kannel serves as the Senior Director of Member Relations for Wisconsin Farm Bureau. She grew up on a dairy farm outside of Spring Valley in Pierce County and is a UW-River Falls graduate with a degree in agricultural education.