By Dave Green, AgriPOWER Class VIII participant
“Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that.” — Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
OK so our trip to D.C. wasn’t quite as dramatic as the American classic “Mr Smith Goes To Washington,” but it still was a great experience for the Young Ag Professionals and AgriPOWER group.
As a high schooler, I was fortunate to travel to Washington D.C. as a winner in the American Legion Americanism contest and as a member of 4-H for the Citizenship Washington Focus trip. These trips were great opportunities to travel as a high school student but we did not get into the nuts and bolts of how “inside the Beltway” really works. This trip to D.C. was much different.
Our first chance came when we met in the American Farm Bureau office to tour and prep for our meetings with our respective representatives. We were going to have the opportunity not just to meet and make small talk with our representatives but to have an actual dialogue about the issues that impact the agriculture industry.
After meeting our reps and their staffers, we traveled to the Russell Senate building for a briefing in the Senate Ag Committee Meeting Room. Before we could get to our briefing, we had a run in with Ted Cruz on the way to his appointment with the in-house barber and an elevator ride with Marco Rubio (see Seth Middleton for photo evidence, not Senator Rubio’s best, but still good for an iPhone in a small elevator).
Our briefing was up next with Ohio’s own Joe Schultz and Darin Guries, staffer of Sen. Roberts. They gave us a seat at the very table where the Ag Committee meets.
I was fortunate to have some solid participants (Ryan Conklin) backing me up with solid data and figures as I made a plea for an improved Beginning Farmer Loan program from FSA to be put into the 2018 Farm Bill.
While there were many exciting moments and sights, getting an inside look at the inner workings of D.C. and our political system was definitely the highlight of the trip.
Oh, and we did hit the “Jackpot” while we were there. I highly recommend it.
Photo: Having a constructive conversation with legislators during a Senate Ag Committee briefing.
Session 3 blogs
“Partaking in the political process” was the theme of Seth Middleton‘s blog.
Nate Bair learned about trade and the next farm bill on the Washington, D.C. trip.
Session 2 blogs
Andy Hollenback talked about the insight the group received from agricultural leaders.
Racine Ramsey was impressed with the advice from ag communications experts on how to be effective agvocates.
Session 1 blogs
Jan Shannon talked about how AgriPOWER participants come from diverse backgrounds but share a passion for agriculture.
Nathan Vandenbroek shared how participants discovered what drives their strengths and how to mange their weaknesses.
Tracy Emrick described how AgriPOWER will help her and other participants become more effective leaders and spokespeople for the ag industry.