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Wordless Wednesday: DC conference

Last week there were 47 farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists in town for an exciting training and networking opportunity, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2014 State Chair Conference. Here you can see some of the group before they attended an information session at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History:

47 grassroots leaders braved the weather in DC!

47 grassroots leaders braved the weather in DC!

Feeling Lucky!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in San Antonio. I came away with many reasons to celebrate but the one that I am most proud of is belonging to a grassroots organization that develops policy from the local level on up.  I have always been a big fan of policy development and when I get the opportunity to follow policies that begin in a county Farm Bureau meeting, work their way through a District Listening Post, a State Farm Bureau Meeting and then on to the American Farm Bureau delegate session, it really makes me proud to belong to this organization.

Farmers and Ranchers from across the country work to develop policy at the AFBF Annual Meeting

Farmers and Ranchers from across the country work to develop policy at the AFBF Annual Meeting

When you bring together such a diverse group of farmers and ranchers, it is not always an easy task but one that is truly worthy to undertake. There was much discussion on many issues throughout the delegate session but in the end, a consensus was reached and a policy package was passed which will enable us to speak with one voice on issues at the national level.
There were great breakout sessions to attend throughout the conference and a trade show that had something for everyone! The Young Farmers and Ranchers were there in full force, leading me to believe that the future of agriculture is in great hands. I was inspired to hear how involved many of them are in ag education and connecting with the people who use our products.

Friends from across the country attended, some I know quite well and some I know more from contact through social media. It is always wonderful to meet people face to face after connecting on Facebook or twitter. Everywhere I looked, I saw people light up with recognition as they were approached by someone they hadn’t seen in awhile.

American Farm Bureau always has fun events lined up to do some fund raising for the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. This year was no exception, we had the annual Flapjack Fundraiser where the book of the year was revealed.

The Beeman is the 2014 AFBFA Book of the Year.

The Beeman is the 2014 AFBFA Book of the Year.

The Foundation evening fundraiser was a night made in heaven for this girl! We started off the evening with some bull riding. I grew up around the rodeo and I can’t help but think about my dad when I get the chance to attend a rodeo event. It was a love of his and I loved going with him every chance I got. At one point or another he participated at rodeos at every level from cowboy to clown to judge to announcer. It brings back great memories when I get the opportunity to attend.

Bull riding was one of the fun events at the Foundation fund raiser.

Bull riding was one of the fun events at the Foundation fund raiser.

To cap off a great evening, we were treated to a Josh Turner concert. I have always liked Josh Turner and he put on a great concert for our Farm Bureau family.

Josh Turner entertains the AFBF members at the Foundation fund raiser.

Josh Turner entertains the AFBF members at the Foundation fund raiser.

When it came time to give out the door prizes I thought I would really like to take home a Josh Turner CD to extend the fun from the evening. I didn’t win a CD but then Chevrolet, one of the generous sponsors of the event, announced the final door prize of the night was a trip to the Super Bowl complete with 2 tickets, lodging and travel money. Now I have to tell you, I have entered contests over the years trying to win tickets to the Super Bowl…I LOVE football and the Super Bowl experience has always been a dream of mine. When they made the announcement of the prize, I thought wow, someone is going to win a great prize. To make a long story short, THIS GIRL IS GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!! Thank you Chevrolet for sponsoring so many events at our conference and for making me feel like a very lucky girl!

Riding the bull

This weekend I had the great pleasure of working with women veterans interested in farming and ranching through the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s second annual Empowering Women Veterans Conference. As a non-veteran and a displaced farm girl in the city, I was more than slightly out of my element. So on the final night of the conference, I finally had a chance to do what a lot of women in agriculture do best – encourage others!

Walking from the reception (where Farm Credit & the FVC expressed excitement about the Homegrown by Heroes project), we passed through 4th Street Live in Louisville. (And by the way, I’ve never felt so safe in my life than walking down a dark street with a group of strong warriors, even when passersby heckled us.) As we walked by a well-known cowboy bar, one woman said, “Hey, I wanna ride the bull in there.” Well, OK!

It didn’t take much convincing to have others join us around the bull ring. While the woman may have been nervous about her goal, I noticed a few things:

  • A woman who stands by what she says will impress and influence those around her. (A conference presenter actually shared this by highlighting her “Acta Non Verba Youth Urban Farm Project,” stressing actions, not words, are what matter.)
  • By sharing a goal, a woman provides herself a chance to be encouraged by her peers. Others may get so wrapped up in empowering her that they may join in! (I promised not to name names.)
  • “Taking the bull by the horns” doesn’t necessarily have to be literal but a person does have to start somewhere. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the pyramids didn’t appear overnight…every dream can become reality if the vision is put in motion.

I learned so much from the women who attended this conference and am so proud of all they have achieved and all they hope to accomplish as beginning farmers/ranchers growing and raising food for our nation.

FFA Leadership Conference

Pool and LoBiondo

This summer I visited Congressman Frank LoBiondo in Washington, D.C.

When I was on Capitol Hill visiting my congressman in mid-July, I saw several blue and gold jackets – these are the easily recognizable jackets of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) member’s nationwide.

From June 4 through July 21, nearly 1,800 FFA student leaders traveled to DC for a week of in-depth leadership training; identifying and developing their personal strengths as leaders of this very large agricultural education based organization.

Students will also study media and communication skills, high impact community service initiatives, and how to implement these plans back in their local school chapters.

Students also learn their purpose (as FFA members), how to value people, how to take action, and the importance of serving others.

While in DC, FFA members will experience our nation’s history, tour some capitol sites, and meet with legislators.

FFA teachers will also attend the conference, learning how to motivate and help develop their student’s leadership potential and how they can help maximize their local FFA chapters community service initiatives.

To end this conference FFA student leaders take part in a “Day of Service” in the DC area. Last year’s students volunteered and combined 9,500 hours of service for the greater Washington area food pantries.

PA FFA

My son David and granddaughter Caitlyn receiving her Keystone degree from the Pennsylvania FFA

The FFA organization has been part of our family for over 60 years. My husband Owen served as New Jersey state president in 1957. Our four children served as chapter officers and John and David were state officers. Owen and all four of our kids received their American FFA Degrees with Linda going to National regional as a winner in Dairy Foods. Our granddaughters in Pennsylvania are also active in chapter and state FFA programs.

We are very proud of the learning experiences that our family has been a part of through the FFA. Thank you also to the hundreds of advisors for all their years of teaching and leadership training to help the next generation of agricultural based students become the leaders of tomorrow!