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A bright horizon
Ohio Farm Bureau wants to empower the next generation of Ohio food and agricultural advocates. We were recently recognized by the American Farm Bureau with the New Horizon Award for putting focus on programs that engaged youth and collegiate students and connected them with Farm Bureau as a relevant resource in building relationships. We hope these nationally recognized programs provide you with ideas for innovative ways we can work together to extend our mission to more people.
The Capital Challenge program, a new collaboration among Ohio 4-H, Ohio FFA and Farm Bureau helped strengthen student advocacy skills, engage them in the public policy process and strengthen ties with local communities. Twenty-five students attended a two-day event engaging in sessions on grassroots policy development, etiquette, strategic planning, event/project organization and publicity. Following a breakfast with legislators and joint sessions with county presidents and young farmers, students collaborated in teams to identify and solve a community or agricultural problem using the policy development process. Mentored by county presidents, OFBF field staff, former state FFA officers and 4-H Ambassadors, teams fine-tuned their suggestions, considered community needs then presented their proposed policies and programs to judges representing Ohio’s legislators. The top proposals were submitted to local and state legislators for consideration to create actual policies or programs.
Farm to Fork Food Dialogue
The Collegiate Young Farmers group at Ohio State University had the opportunity to work through Farm Bureau to develop productive conversations with other students and faculty about food and agriculture issues and concerns. Students created the Farm to Fork Food Dialogue in two steps: coaching 80 students in constructive conversation concepts and engaging a group of 250 students from across the campus to a sit-down meal to discuss food issues in table conversations. The event included a moderated discussion panel representing various viewpoints.
Success with the Farm to Fork Food Dialogues led to revitalizing Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ag Ambassador program, which invites young people to staff the Farm Bureau exhibit at the Ohio State Fair. The goal was to equip all ambassadors to develop confidence in engaging consumers while practicing top-level hospitality and hosting skills. The effort was modeled after Disney’s approach to learning, guest interaction, horticulture and animal issues. In all, 30 Ag Ambassadors answered guest questions and demonstrated high levels of hospitality and engagement with our 370,000 state fair guests. The Ambassadors also helped to host and testify at a joint hearing of the Ohio House and Senate Ag Committees during the fair.
Higher Ed Outreach
Ohio Farm Bureau is reaching out to Wilmington College and the University of Findlay, focusing efforts to build relationships raising awareness of agricultural majors. By making the connection between Ohio Farm Bureau, county Farm Bureaus and these institutions of learning, the prospect of developing stronger communities is very promising. Ohio Farm Bureau is using the success of these programs to promote work force development, allow professional development through student-led activities and the implementation of programs and policies growing from their own ideas and suggestions.