So how do you start a county YAP program? We were wondering the same thing. Theresa and I have been interested in starting our own county YAP program since our first winter conference. Earlier this year we had the opportunity to speak with several other YAP members about their county programs. Some of the questions we asked were:
- How often do you meet?
- What are your goals?
- Who is included? Is it family-oriented?
- How are you structured?
In gathering all of the information, we found that what worked best was different for each group, yet there were a lot of similarities. We took what we learned and contacted our county organization director and a few people who we already knew were interested in starting a YAP group in Ross County.
Some of my fondest memories as a child involved going to county Farm Bureau meetings with my parents. They rotated from house to house and everyone brought a covered dish to share. The kids played in one room while the “grown ups” conducted business. It must not have been all business though, because the room was always filled with laughter. With this in mind, Theresa and I took the same approach and held our first meeting at our house. It was very informal, kids were invited, and it all circled around a meal.
It was important to us that our first meeting would be only a small group who could then become the leaders and promoters of our county YAP program. Items that were discussed in our first meeting ranged from who to involve and what we wanted to accomplish to more simple things like what food to serve at the next meeting. One thing we confirmed during our first meeting was that there is a high interest in our area to have an opportunity for Young Agricultural Professionals to get together and share ideas. The meeting went well and the next one is scheduled for early June.
While we may be in the early stages of getting our county YAP group started, we do feel it is important to share what we have learned so far:
- Start small and develop a core team. You can reach out to a larger group of people once you are established.
- Communicate with your county Farm Bureau board. Many counties have a budget for county YAP activities.
- Don’t meet too many times, if at all, during the busy seasons. Trying to meet during spring planting or fall harvest can make YAP feel like a burden and may decrease people’s interest in participating.
- Go to a neighboring county YAP event or join up with a neighboring county YAP group for a social event. This increases opportunities for networking and making new friends.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take the first steps. What you start now may develop into friendships that will last a lifetime and opportunities that would otherwise not be possible.
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