We all have it, lived it and breathed it…that moment that forever changed our life. Most of us don’t recognize it as a life changing moment when it happens, but as we age, mature and expand our lives we often look back and know that it did. It’s always been said that hindsight is 20/20, right?
There are many moments, events, people and things that have changed my life. Yet, as my term ends on the Young Farmer and Agriculturist (YFA) State Committee and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation State Board, where I served a one-year term as state YFA Chair, it’s time to reflect not only on these experiences but my Farm Bureau experience as a whole. When I made the decision to become a member more than nine years ago, I never knew how this organization would change my life, nor did I know that I would be a part of changing this organization.
One of my first steps to growing in this organization came with the opportunity to be part of the very successful, WFBF leadership Institute. During my year as a member of Class II of this premiere leadership training course, I strengthened my speaking skills as well as communicated across the generational divide with classmates. I gained perceptive and a true appreciation for working with our congressional leaders on the local, state and national levels. These experiences helped to generate a personal leadership plan that cumulated who I became, goals I had and how I was going to accomplish them. Looking back I know that being a graduate of the program set in motion my leadership path.
As I continued to grow and become an active YFA member, relationships were forged. It seems simple, but our lives depend on the friendships, partnerships and relationships we build. During my involvement, I have been blessed to work with remarkable individuals. Each is unique, offers skills and abilities that encourage personal growth and have challenged me to develop more as a leader. I am honored to say that the relationships that I have gained through Farm Bureau have brought incredible people into my life, many of which I wouldn’t want to be without.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau has certainly impacted my life, developed me as a leader and helped shape my involvement in agriculture. But the unique aspect of our grassroots organization is the opportunity to make your mark. Since becoming a member, I dedicated myself to making my changing mark, from being co-creator and developer of the Farm Bureau 5K run/walk where we raise funds to benefit breast cancer research and give back to our members; to serving as a director on the state board that works to successfully guide our organization. Along with a fellow Institute graduate, devoted YFA member and friend, we worked to spearhead a unique fundraising opportunity, the Maddie Project, which not only helped secure funds for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation, but also raised awareness of the programs like the YFA, Women’s Leadership Program and Ag in the Classroom to name a few.
Along the way there have been contests, meetings, numerous events, training sessions and travel opportunities, I met leaders and devoted agriculturists from around the state and across the country. I helped shape the future of our organization and all it took was one membership application and the desire to make a difference in agriculture. Being a dynamic leader isn’t just about showing up, it’s about stepping up and moving forward.
My challenge for you is for you to determine how you’ve changed. Has it happened yet? What was it? But more importantly, how did you react? Did you sit back and watch it happen or did you step up and make it happen? Whenever you are able to make the choice, I hope you choose to make it happen!
Andrea is a runner, literally and figuratively. When she’s not running a third-generation dairy farm with her family, she runs full and half marathons. The energetic 33-year-old also served as the 2015 chair of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee.