John C. (Jack) Fisher, Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president

Improving Communities

Maybe it was a major injustice, or just some minor irritant, but it spurred a recognition that there was a wrong to right or an opportunity to seize. Recall, too, your next step. Which was to do nothing.

Rarely do any of us volunteer to take on the problems of the world, or even the problems of the neighborhood. In part, we’re too busy; work, family and more personal priorities consume our time and energy. Maybe we don’t engage because we don’t think we know enough about the issue, or that we’re alone in our thinking, or don’t see the personal relevance or maybe just don’t know how to get started. Our inaction isn’t shameful, but it is epidemic. And avoidable. The next time you see something that needs done, don’t think “somebody” should do it. Think Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau fixes things. It’s why we exist. It’s also, unfortunately, the single most under- valued and under-utilized aspect of membership.

Since 1936, when Farm Bureau members have seen something that needs done, they’ve taken their first steps by raising the issue with their Advisory Council. Farm Bureau councils are a network of families and neighbors who gather in homes, halls or anywhere there’s a few chairs. Meetings usually include some fun and almost always good food, but their purpose is to host meaningful conversations. Councils give individuals a way to identify common concerns and propose cooperative solutions. Many of Farm Bureau’s most far-reaching accomplishments began when a single committed member chose to speak up.

Seventy-seven years later, councils remain your way to access the strength of Farm Bureau, although the system is due for an upgrade. There’s now a new name, Community Councils.  Today’s councils will work closely with their elected county leadership. Some will still meet in family rooms but some might meet on Facebook. Most significantly, they’ll welcome wider participation from throughout their communities. And from you.

Now, I know the last thing you’re looking for is another drain on your time. Consider though, the return on your investment. You’ll be associating with an organization with proven influence. For example, in the recent election, 95 percent of the candidates we endorsed won. We have visibility; newspapers, TV, radio stations and bloggers pay attention to what we say. We have connections; businesses, schools and community associations work with us on a daily basis. We have manpower—dedicated volunteers and highly professional staff organized across every town, township and county of Ohio. Yes, involvement with a Farm Bureau Community Council will take some of your time. But the resources are there to make your time pay dividends.

Why am I so eager for you to be a part of our council program? Because I want you to witness the single most valuable part of a Farm Bureau membership: The ability to make things better.

Certainly, there are many reasons to be a member, from a great magazine to all of the benefits from our relationship with Nationwide Insurance. But the most important reason to be a member, and what I hope you appreciate when you write your dues check, is that you’re being handed the tools to improve lives and communities. Involvement lets you experience that firsthand.

Consider how you would flex Farm Bureau’s collective muscle. You may want to eliminate world hunger, or get a few potholes patched. Whatever the cause, I hope you’ll take advantage of the single greatest benefit of a Farm Bureau membership: the power to work together to get things done.