By Megan Lezzer, AgriPOWER Class IX participant
The Farm Bureau AgriPOWER Class 9 and the YAP group recently returned from an excellent Washington D.C. leadership experience! It was a jam packed trip filled with education, leadership and networking opportunities.
The class arrived in D.C. for a lunch meeting on Tuesday September 12th. I had the pleasure of meeting some new people including our state board member Lane Osswald. During lunch we were briefed on current AFBF issues including the farm bill, tax reform and immigration. OFBF’s Jack Irvin followed up with some great tips on a successful congressional visit. We then had the opportunity to meet with our assigned group to plan our visit with our representatives, mine being Bob Gibbs.
Next we were off to the AFBF offices, a short walk from our hotel. We got a tour of the office (including a brief moment where we thought we were stuck in the elevator!). I loved the pictures on the wall from all 50 states and sought out OH and MI. The rooftop view was great!
We learned about the joys of D.C. traffic on the way to an excellent and historical dinner at Gatsby’s where we were entertained by a speech from the staff given as if we were in the 1800s.
Day 2 was another busy day starting with a stop at the New Zealand embassy (pictured) where we got to learn more about New Zealand agriculture. Some fun facts: the total area of New Zealand is 26.8 million hectares (14.1 of this is in various types of farmland), 1,600 kilometers north to south and 450 kilometers at its widest point.
Off to the hill! We enjoyed lunch in the Capital Hill Cafeteria, followed by an excellent tour of the Capitol, seeing over 50 statues and other historic areas. I had time for a quick trip to the botanical gardens before my congressional meeting — beautiful place and I love that all the museums on the mall are free!
Our congressional meeting with Bob Gibbs went very well; this was a great experience as I’ve never had the opportunity to do anything like this. I was glad to be with a group that had firsthand experience with some of the important policies for AFBF/OFBF including tax reform and immigration. Bob Gibbs was very interested in hearing our thoughts and opinions on these policies and gave us about a 40-minute meeting. We thanked him for the work he is doing for agriculture in Ohio.
Dinner Wednesday evening was a delicious Italian restaurant served family style. Following dinner we enjoyed a night time monument tour led by OFBF’s Yvonne Lesicko. Very impactful to see these monuments at night, including the White House, Korean War, Lincoln, Vietnam and World War II.
Thursday started with a visit to the USDA where we had briefings on Young and Beginning Farmers and Foreign Ag Service. (The meeting was held at a very large conference table where Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had meetings!)
Our trip concluded at Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. We had a specialized agricultural tour where we learned about farming during Washington’s time, my favorite part was the round barn where horses were utilized for threshing wheat.
Overall this was a fantastic trip! I enjoyed networking with my fellow AgriPOWER classmates, meeting new agricultural leaders from YAP and learning more about Farm Bureau policy. It was powerful to see the direct impact we can have on our government, advocating for programs that Ohio farmers need.