This post is one of a series of stories by Kayla Weaver, who served as guest editor of the Growing our Generation e-newsletter, published by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals.
I lightheartedly told some folks the other day that I have a bad habit of getting involved wherever I go. It might not be such a bad thing, but I definitely have moments where I’m stretched a little thin with my to-do list. Someday I’ll cut back, but I can’t decide what to give up just yet and Farm Bureau is a big part of that.
From youth camps to YAP conferences, OFBF Annual Meetings and serving on my county board of trustees, sometimes it seems like I’ve done it all. In my younger days I served on the State Youth Committee and represented OFBF on the Ohio State Fair Junior Fair Board. Somewhere during college, I happened upon the Young Ag Professionals, attended their DC trip, and went on to be chair of the state committee. When I ended up back in my hometown, I got involved with the county board and will be taking over as president at the end of the month.
That’s close to 20 years of Farm Bureau activities and programming that I’ve experienced. Twenty years is kind of a long time, you’d think I’d be done by now, but that’s one of the great things about Ohio Farm Bureau, it’s hard to outgrow it! The benefits of being a Farm Bureau member begin the moment you sign up, but to get the most out of your membership, you have to be engaged. And if you want to make an impact, bring others along for the ride.
Of course membership is key to sustaining our organization and lately my county has been focused on being more visible in the community. To attract more members, they must know we exist and find value in what we do. Over the last few years our county has been throwing the doors open wide and holding events that give the community an opportunity to interact with us before they join – we’ve found they’re interested in what we do, and now it is up to us to convert those experiences into members.
In order to put on these events, it takes volunteers. To transition a member into a volunteer, they often need to be asked, and once they’re committed, make sure they know they’re valued. Anyone can show up to a meeting one time, but we need to give them a reason to come back.
If you’re one of those members thinking of getting involved, there are opportunities for involvement no matter your time commitments, leadership abilities, experience or how outgoing you are. You might be a great committee chair for your county’s fair display, or it may be time to step up and become a board member. Challenge yourself to look for a need in your community and plan a brand new event – or put your own twist on one the many great events going on in counties all across Ohio. Make it a goal to step up your membership game – pledge to sign 5 members more than you ever have.
For current and past volunteers, the job doesn’t end when the term is up. Share your experience; telling your story and giving a little encouragement to a new member or prospective committee chair may be just the push someone needs to take on a new opportunity.
Anybody can do it, but if everyone thinks that someone else will, it may end up being that nobody did anything in the end. As a membership driven organization, we need to take the initiative – if not us, who?
Read more from Weaver in her blogs The never-ending story of Agriculture and Friends through Farm Bureau which are part of her turn as editor of the Growing Our Generation eletter. Browse the archive of past issues.
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