AgriPOWER Class VII session 7: A revived passion for agriculture

Cue the “Pomp and circumstance” – Class VII of the AgriPOWER Institute has graduated! This class was a wonderful combination of agricultural industry professionals as well as farmers. We had the privilege of learning from industry leaders and from each other. We have traveled to peach, peanut, and cotton farms in South Carolina and to most of the corners of Ohio. We have spoken directly with the elected officials of our state in addition to the leaders of our great nation in Washington, D.C. Seven separate sessions taught us who we were, how to work with others different from ourselves, and how to make those differences a powerful tool of change and influence.

Session seven focused on community and how each of us can influence it. An urban garden sounds like an oxymoron, however, it is a thriving reality for the Highland Youth Garden near downtown Columbus. We had the privilege of learning how the garden started, its struggles as people stole the produce the plants yielded, and lastly, how it contributes so much more beyond its bounty to the families in need. It serves as a place of community, food and family. People from all walks of life can come together for a common goal – to make a safe place to raise food by donating their time and talents and expecting little to nothing in return.

Later in the day, we learned how to safe proof our operations by planning ahead for succession farming. We all have learned in the agricultural industry that sometimes it’s better late than never to plan for the unexpected; therefore, creating wills, deeds, and other financial documents for the success of the operation is vital to avoid leaving a burden on your loved ones. Lastly, we were tasked with thinking about the issues and topics that will impact the American Farm Bureau Federation as well as the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation for years to come. We must remain knowledgeable about GMOs, Waters of the United States, and how agricultural bills and policies may change with the upcoming presidential election.

I have gained invaluable information and established relationships that go beyond professional connections. I learned that the job title does not matter (thanks for the friendly reminder, Marlene Eick!). It’s easy to get stuck in the corporate mindset that titles and salary indicate worth, importance and accomplishment. The sentiment could not be further from the truth.  The knowledge and friendships I have gained in the AgriPOWER Institute are priceless. The completion of the program does not come with a monetary reward or a fancy diploma to hang on the wall – although the clock with our personalized plaque is very nice. We take with us a revived passion for agriculture, a thirst for knowledge for the industry, and an understanding of how just one person can truly make a difference.

Apply for AgriPOWER Class VIII by April 15.

Read more from other AgriPOWER Class VII participant

Session 1 blogs

Vicky Shaw discussed her experience in the program’s first session learning about her strength and picking up public speaking tips.

Angela Shoemaker discussed her experience in the program’s first session and learning to step out of her comfort zone.

Session 2 blogs

Chris Kick blogged about interacting with the media and being an effective spokesperson.

Sara Campbell wrote about using storytelling in conversations with consumers and visiting Turner Farms.

Session 3 blogs

Josh Henderson blogged about truly having a voice in Washington.

Libby Bender shared her experience meeting with the authors of the EPA’s WOTUS rule and meeting with her congressman.

Heidi White wrote about learning more about trade at the New Zealand Embassy.

Session 4 blogs

Lara Staples wrote about learning what state government and the people who run it are really like.

Stephanie Leis blogged about the speakers from session 4 and their connection to agriculture.

Jenny Meyer discussed inspiration to share her story more.

Session 5 blogs

Jeff Adams blogged about learning more about tax law and CAUV.

Shelly Detwiler wrote about local government, school funding and oil and gas production.

Session 6 blogs

Matt Schlegel wrote about some of the  peanut and cotton harvesting equipment the class saw on their trip to South Carolina.

Steven Ruggles shared what he learned about vegetable farming in South Carolina and the similarities and difference between vegetable farming and grain farming.

Jami Willard of Columbus wrote about the whirlwind tour of South Carolina’s agriculture that Class VII experienced.

Session 7 blogs

Elaine Beekman of Wellington blogged about this final session not being the end of the learning from AgriPOWER.

Kayla Jones of Newark wrote about volunteering at Highland Youth Garden during the final session.

Mandy Way of Chillicothe blogged about her experience in AgriPOWER reviving her passion for agriculture.


Meet other Class VII graduates.


AgriPOWER is an elite training program designed to help participants become community leaders and advocates for agriculture.



Mandy Way of Chillicothe is one of 19 farmers and agribusiness professionals who graduated from Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER Institute, Class VII. Way operates a 40-acre produce farm, pumpkin patch and greenhouse operation in Pike County. She serves as the secretary for the Chillicothe Farmers Market and is a certified instructor of CPR and first aid for the American Red Cross.