Farming is the number one economic contributor in Ohio and has 75,700 farms in the state. With  statistics like that, it comes as no surprise that young, driven professionals are seeking out leadership and educational opportunities from organizations like the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

The annual Young Agricultural Professional (YAP) Leadership Conference hosted by OFBF was recently held on Jan. 24-25 where nearly 300 young agricultural professionals traveled from across Ohio, meeting in Columbus, to enjoy fun, fellowship and learning. Eight local Shelby County Farm Bureau members were among the young adults ages 18-35 who attended this annual conference.

While the conference focuses on the young adult demographic, it provides participants anopportunity to gain leadership skills, build personal and professional skills and network with other  agricultural leaders. Attendees are full or part-time farmers, teachers, consumer educators, media reporters, livestock and equine enthusiasts, beekeepers, green industry employees, gardeners, foodies and much more who share a passion for farming, rural living and local foods.

“The Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Conference is a great way for young people in agriculture to come together and share experiences while gaining relevant expertise that they can take back to better their farming operations,” said Sarah Heilers, a two-year member of the YAP Advisory Team and Shelby County Farm Bureau member.

The two-day conference featured 13 workshops with choices ranging from livestock management,  local food marketing, and food preservation to agricultural laws, taxes and nutrient management. Workshop presenters included Ohio State University Extension professionals, owners and operators of local farm operations and businesses.

“My passion for agriculture led me to want to become more involved in Farm Bureau,” said Jason Gibbs, a four-year member of Shelby County Farm Bureau and Food Issues Committee Chair. “Participating in this conference has taught me ways to build leadership, network with other farmers and develop professionally in our industry. These new skills will help grow my business and teach me to become a better advocate for the agricultural industry.”

Community service and making a difference is another priority of the YAP group and it was built into the winter conference with T-shirt sales and online donations being made to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals program also offers and promotes other ways for young adults to become involved. Ag Day at the Capitol, YAP D.C. Experience and summer events, are a few of the many ways members are encouraged to become involved. Awards for Excellence in Agriculture, Outstanding Young Farmer and Discussion Meet contests are also opportunities for members to be recognized for their hard work and passion in the agricultural industry.

For more information about joining Shelby County Farm Bureau contact the local office at877-775-7642. Or to learn more about the Young Agricultural Professionals visit the “Get Involved” tab at www.ofbf.org.

by: Raci Zimpfer, Communications Chair




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