Leadership Engagement Team provides effective training to busy members

Buckeye Farm News

A new Ohio Farm Bureau staff team is helping give members the leadership tools they need to help them be better leaders and manage their busy lives more effectively.

The Leadership Engagement Team was formed in June and went into effect at Leadership Conference in August. The team consists of Dave Rule, senior director of organizational development; Darrell Rubel, director of learning delivery; Melinda Whitten, field staff training specialist, and Scott Donaldson, director of volunteer and employee engagement.

“We want to engage new people in new and meaningful ways,” Rubel said. “We’re working on how to better use technology in Ohio Farm Bureau and develop creative programming and training for volunteer leaders and members.”

The Leadership Engagement Team was created after OFBF’s leadership development committee examined the roles and challenges of volunteer organizations. The committee concluded that Ohio Farm Bureau needed to find ways to become a more volunteer friendly organization to its members who were increasingly finding they had less time for volunteer work. The Leadership Engagement Team’s main focus is to identify leaders and train them in an efficient and effective way, Rule said.

“One thing we’re doing is having counties not only identify leaders but catalog them for when they’re needed,” he said.

“For example, you could have a young farmer who says he likes to work with policy development but only has one hour per month to give. With technology, counties should be able to track this and pull that person up for that short opportunity that they’re interested in. This will help create a better way to do follow-up with members who want to be involved in specific ways.”

The Leadership Engagement Team is responsible for all of OFBF’s training, including finding leadership presenters, and helping counties review and evaluate their own programs.

“We’ve been developing a litmus test for counties to use when evaluating their programs and meetings,” Rubel said.

“For example, are they doing things in a volunteer friendly way? How can we make meetings more efficient and meaningful? How can we encourage creative programs that stand out in our communities?”

Newer programming such as AgriPOWER Institute has focused on young agricultural leaders, and Rubel said he is working on ways to help college students become more involved in agriculture and Farm Bureau while preparing them to be leaders in agriculture.

“We’ve been waiting too long to involve young farmers in the process,” Rule said. “We need to find ways to effectively engage them because their volunteer availability is far different than that of a 70 year-old.”

Another area the team is working on is succession leadership training.

“We’re preparing leaders to make the next step and are focusing on vice presidents (at the county level) so that when a president decides not to run anymore, there will be somebody there who is ready to step right in,” Rule said.

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