by Terri Bauer Studer
When I look back on my year spent as a participant in the AgriPOWER program, it’s nearly impossible for me to list all I’ve gained from the experience.
I was lucky to be a part of AgriPOWER Class IV and spend time with a gifted group of people, none of whom I’d known previously, but who I now consider dear friends. Though the group was diverse in our agricultural background and interests, I feel like we shared common ground in that each of us brought to the program a commitment to agriculture as an industry and as a lifestyle, as well as the passion to make a difference.
Through our visits to egg, hog and dairy farms I think we each gained additional knowledge of types of livestock production we may not previously have had. This is particularly true in my case, since my background is in horses and small animal medicine, not exactly what you’d think of as traditional agriculture. We gained an appreciation for the specific rewards of each type of farming and an understanding of the challenges each farmer faces.
We had visits with local government officials, visited the Statehouse and spent time in Washington, D.C. learning how each branch functions and discussing agriculture-related issues at each level of government, particularly how grassroots efforts can influence public policy. We also spent time with EPA officials and representatives from other environmental groups, making an effort to understand the other side of some of important issues as well as communicate our own concerns.
We studied leadership styles and came to the realization that we all did indeed bring individual talents to the group. We learned effective communications skills and practiced public speaking. Yikes, right? But it turned out to be less intimidating than expected when speaking in front of a group of friends who appreciate the knowledge you possess, and genuinely want to see you succeed.
As the year passed, I noticed each of us finding opportunities to be advocates for agriculture, sharing our knowledge and our stories with groups both large and small, and becoming more effective in our communication. And that, to me, is the greatest takeaway from the program.
I entered the AgriPOWER program with a desire to speak out on issues important to Ohio’s farmers and our communities. On graduation day a year later, I realized I had found my VOICE.
AgriPOWER is a leadership and advocacy development program, which consists of seven multi-day institutes (17 total days), covers public policy matters facing local communities, the state of Ohio, the nation and the world. Learn more and find applications on the AgriPOWER webpage. Applications for Class VI are available now and due by April 18.
Terri Bauer Studer has owned, bred and shown Tennessee Walking horses for 35 years, is a Butler County Farm Bureau trustee and is a 4-H advisor in Butler County. She was recently appointed to the Executive Board of the National Federation of Republican Women, serving on the Agriculture Committee.