Ashley Knittle and Jeremiah Dealey of Van Wert County recently attended the Higher Ground leadership conference sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau. This “learn by doing” event was held at Ohio Dominican University, Columbus, Ohio, and hosted by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in cooperation with the county Farm Bureaus.

Teens from across Ohio, ages 14-18, were hand-chosen based on leadership potential to attend the six day conference.  The program provided participants with a hands-on experience of the Farm Bureau organization, current agricultural issues, as well as leadership and personal development skills such as conflict and time management, responsibility, integrity, business etiquette and teambuilding.

Participants developed proficiency in discussion leading and teambuilding by organizing a mock county Farm Bureau annual meeting. By developing policies and using critical thinking skills, teens developed a greater appreciation of the democratic process and concerning current issues facing Ohio agriculture.

Reaching out to others was a major theme of the conference. Youth organized a special book drive for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and recorded stories to share with young hospital patients. Youth also made personal care packets for a local mission.

Teen leaders attended a workshop on media training, learning about the simple ways they can reach out to the public to spread education about agriculture and livestock through popular teen mediums such as YouTube and Facebook.

“We’re very proud of our teen leaders,” said Darrell Rubel, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Director of Leadership Development. “By providing this unique and impacting experience for our teens, they know that they don’t have to wait until later to make a difference: they can do it today. We all have one life – do something.”           

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