On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2, I had the amazing experience of attending the Young Agricultural Professionals Conference in Columbus. This unique event is put together by the Ohio Farm Bureau with each county Farm Bureau sponsoring young farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 to attend. It is a two-day event with special guest speakers, breakout learning sessions, trade shows, and networking.
This was my fourth year attending, with over 600 other new and recurrent farmers. Held at the Hyatt, it was impressive to see the halls and staircases flooded with young people dressed in flannel and cowboy boots with the blue lanyard sporting ‘Farm Bureau’ around their neck. It made me feel proud to be among them, representing the newest generation of farmers in Ohio.
We had the pleasure of seeing and listening to Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett and Executive Vice President Adam Sharp. They both discussed the history of Farm Bureau and the advances and accomplishments we have made as an organization as we celebrate 100 years! Adam Sharp also talked about the Cover Crop beer, a new product on the market. Ohio Farm Bureau partnered with North High Brewing to create this centennial beer. Cover Crop is brewed with a local malt resource from Rustic Brew Farms in Marysville, Ohio. I encourage you all to look for and try this delicious new beverage while toasting to the successes of our organization!
I attended several workshops including Water Quality and Nutrient Management; Chaos is a Ladder; Marketing in Media; and Life Lessons from Dwight Schrute. Every year, I look for and attend a water quality session. I think it is important to see year to year what farmers are currently working toward in terms of clean water and phosphorous runoff. The most interesting part of this session was learning about the demo farms Farm Bureau is sponsoring along the Blanchard River. It is a five year project, the first of its kind, as each farm pursues innovative and standard practices that help reduce and prevent runoff. It is encouraging to see Farm Bureau at the head of water quality and being proactive in creating solutions. Here in Ashtabula County, we have a dedicated Nutrient Management Team that has been recognized on a state level for our active approach to water quality. Because of the dedication of our farmers in water quality, we have some of the cleanest water in the whole state.
I also always enjoy any media marketing session I can attend. I think that social media can be a powerful tool for agriculture and give farmers a platform to tell their story and combat false information. In this session we discussed how to engage in a helpful conversation as opposed to creating arguments, how to approach delicate topics, as well as what media platforms are currently underused in the agriculture field. It gave me several ideas for our own farm, and how to be conversational without being defensive. It is easy to be defensive about something you love or something that is your livelihood, but defense does not make a good case for conversation.
If I did nothing else through Farm Bureau, this trip alone would be worth it to renew my membership. It is an experience unlike any other and is only available through Farm Bureau. If you are a young farmer between 18 and 35, I encourage you to reach out to your local board members and sign up for next year. If you want to support these kinds of programs, becoming a member does just that. Your membership and belief in Farm Bureau allowed me this privilege to attend. I thank Ashtabula County Farm Bureau for sponsoring my attendance for another year, and I can’t wait for the next one!
Submitted by Sara Frank, an Ashtabula County Farm Bureau member.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.