Growing our Generation: Financial planning and giving back to the community

Hi, everyone. My name is Jennifer Wilson, I was born and raised as the 8th generation on a small family farm in Jenera, which is located in southern Hancock County. My family still farms there and my fiancé and I have a small goat herd that resides at the family farm. We make it work with the help of my parents and brother. I have recently moved just west of Van Wert, since my fiancé, Troy, owns a small grain farm there along with being the general manager for the Van Wert County Fair.

I am a financial officer for Farm Credit Mid-America and am blessed to work for a company that sees value in employees being involved and giving back to the local ag community. Because of the support of my fiancé, family and employer, I have had the opportunity to get involved with the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals Committee and thus have helped start Young Ag Professionals groups in Hancock and Van Wert counties. I sit on the Hancock County Farm Bureau board and represent District 4 on the Ohio Soybean Association Board.­

Prepare yourself for financial success
As a young farmer growing your farm operation, you may find yourself facing many challenges in today’s financial climate: current commodity prices, rising interest rates, and uncertain growing conditions all can provide financial stress. Fortunately, there are a few key steps and business practices you can implement to ensure the longevity of your operation and its future success.

In my line of work, one of the most common questions we are asked by young farmers is, “How do I prepare myself for financial success?” Jessica Lehman is the associate vice president for Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward Program and has put together some comments on how our generation can better prepare ourselves to be financially ready to take over or start our own farming operations.

The power of being involved
I grew up with the saying that it isn’t what you know, but WHO you know. As young agricultural professionals, many of us are kept busy with not only our work commitments but family and social commitments as well. I am here to encourage each of you to take some time this summer to find time to volunteer. There are plenty of opportunities through your county Farm Bureau, and speaking from the perspective of a former Ohio Farm Bureau organization director, your county OD definitely has a project that you can help with, whether that is helping clean up the membership unpaid list, assisting with a summer event, or working with your local Young Ag Professionals group (and if you don’t have one, contact me on tips to get one started!).

Also, we just finished with the #BE4AG campaign where Bob Evans donated 15 percent of sales to Farm Bureau, 4-H and FFA. You could work to help continue that working relationship by hosting an IFYE student through the International 4-H Exchange.

County fairs are just around the corner
Since my fiancé is the general manager for our local county fair, I have had my eyes opened over the last several years on how much work goes into making our county fairs across the state a reality. Those of you who volunteer your valuable time to help make our fairs great have my utmost respect.

I encourage you to explore your county fair, a neighboring fair, or take a weekend and explore a new part of our great state. Even more, whether you are visiting a new fair or attending the same one you grew up going to, take time to say “thank you” to the group of individuals who made the fair possible.


This blog is an excerpt from Wilson’s turn as featured editor of the Growing Our Generation e-newsletter. Read the full e-newsletter or browse the archive of past issues.

SUBSCRIBE to receive the biweekly eletter with a different featured editor to meet each issue.

This e-newsletter is brought to you by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals. Learn more about Farm Bureau membership, including a new discounted category for those 18-24 years old.