Living the suite life — AgriPOWER Session 4 blog

By Ryan Conklin, AgriPOWER Class VIII participant

To start, I need to give some mad props to the Farm Bureau Public Policy Team. That group really knows how to put together two days of meetings!

On November 17 and 18, AgriPOWER Class VIII had the opportunity to share the room with prominent figures in the Ohio government.  Our session included meetings with:

  • Three Ohio State Representatives,
  • One Ohio Senator,
  • The Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture,
  • Almost all of the Division Chiefs for the Department of Agriculture,
  • An Ohio Supreme Court Justice,
  • Three Legislative Aides for the Ohio General Assembly,
  • Two lobbyists,
  • The Ohio Attorney General, and
  • Governor John Kasich

OK, I am kidding on that last one. Regardless, that is an impressive list! The names and offices represented during this session are a testament to the deep ties the Public Policy Team maintains with our elected officials. Since much of policy impacting agriculture is passed at the state level, learning about the intricacies of state government is a MUST for effective promotion of agricultural policy goals.

Squeezed in between all of our government meetings was a trip to Berry Family Farms, a stop that may have been the highlight of Session 4. Brad Berry kindly opened up his farm gates to our group, talking to us about his grass-fed beef cows, custom-built chicken coups and his prosperous farm market business. The Berry Family Farm painted a different picture of 21st century agriculture, one that is small diverse, wholesome and wildly successful. For many of us, this farm was a reminder that agriculture comes in all shapes and sizes and that we must advocate for each variety. Also, for the half-dozen cars that drove by, it was probably a strange visual seeing 25 people in business suits sharing a harvested corn field with a herd of cows in Perry County. Just sayin’.

Finally, the title of this blog is “Living the Suite Life.” Yes, it is a play on words. For each Columbus AgriPOWER session, a group of participants hosts the entire class in a suite at our hotel. After a day of meetings, this is where we get to unwind and enjoy each other. Whether it is hearing about harvest successes, discussing recent triumphs like a new job offer or a new baby, talking farm policy positions or just straight business, each suite session is full of fruitful conversation and plenty of laughs. If you ask me, this time spent together as a class is worth the price of tuition on its own. The suite life furthers the notion that agriculture equals family  and that despite our diverse ideas, we are all rowing the same boat.

With only three sessions left, you can bet we will continue to live the suite life as much as possible before graduation in March.

Session 4 blog

Jessica Draganic talks about meeting Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judy French and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

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.