I don’t have enough time. I’m not experienced enough.
I’m too young. I’m too old.
I’m not a “typical” farmer.
There are dozens of reasons that could be given for not stepping into a leadership role in agriculture or our communities. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be a leader ever since I made the three-and-a-half-hour drive home from our first Farm Bureau Leadership Institute in Madison last month.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
This quote sheds light on a common myth that only certain people are destine to be leaders. However, leaders come from all backgrounds and demonstrate strong character, while utilizing their skills and talents to benefit their communities. Leaders recognize and step up to opportunities when asked or on their own initiative. Either way, it’s a CHOICE.
Similar to many in agriculture, I’m busy. I have a young son, a job off the farm and manage a growing farm. Through life experiences, I recognize the importance of taking care of oneself and family. That aside, there will never be a “good time” to be a leader.
As members of Farm Bureau and other ag organizations, we need to choose to step up and take a leadership role. It could be simply volunteering with the local Ag in the Classroom program or serving on a county or community organization board. Find the right fit and what works for you. Say yes and do it well.
Just like our day-to-day work, we also need to find ways to grow as a leader, developing personal skills and challenging our own views and perspectives on life. I’ve recently made the choice to purposefully grow as a leader through the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute. During our first session we learned about ourselves, evaluating who we are as leaders, understanding our personality types and intellectual intelligence and building and practicing speaking skills.
The best part so far has been getting to know my classmates. We all come from different places in life, from being fresh out of school to seasoned agriculturalists, single, married, county board members, new members, range of agricultural experiences and so on. Even though we only spent three days together, I already consider them friends and am looking forward to getting to know them more as we continue on this leadership journey together over the next year. In fact, I know they’ll be future connections down the road when working on county Farm Bureau projects or other community work.
Fellow agriculturalists, here’s my challenge to you: CHOOSE to make the time to step up as leader in your community and consider adding the Leadership Institute to your personal development to do list.
Leslie Svacina owns Cylon Rolling Acres, raising pastured meat goats in Western Wisconsin. She is also the executive director for the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators. Leslie has a degree in agricultural marketing communications from UW-River Falls, a master’s degree in agribusiness from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in education from UW-La Crosse. She is a past state FFA officer. She lives with her husband and son near Deer Park.