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When Preble County student and Farm Bureau member Chyann Kendel arrived at Wilmington College as a freshman, she said she was not sure exactly where or how she would fit in. The Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter ended up being just the comfort zone she was looking for to get acclimated to college.
“I was that shy quiet freshman and something was missing. I was looking for what to do now,” she recalled. “Collegiate Farm Bureau hooked me in and helped me find my voice again. (It) helped me break out of my shell.”
Wilmington Collegiate Farm Bureau is well established and meetings are well attended, with six officers and 40 to 50 members. Kendel, a senior agriculture education major, said the chapter is about professional development, advocacy and celebrating agriculture.
The chapter sponsors a collegiate Discussion Meet and meets regularly on Tuesdays to hear guest speakers on topics such as international trade or future involvement with Farm Bureau. In addition, they hold special events ranging from recognition of American FFA degree recipients to members participating in the annual campuswide Ag Earth Day event.
Kendel said a marquee event is the Washington, D.C. lobbying trip each fall.
“The Collegiate Farm Bureau sets the tone for what we will lobby on —USMCA, rural broadband, pollinators, it’s whatever our group wants to do. We get the training to do it and you can take it as a class, or you can just go,” she said. The event has been on hold because of COVID-19, but Kendel said getting to experience the nation’s capital in that way is very beneficial and unique to Farm Bureau.
Collegiate Farm Bureaus at both Wilmington College as well as Ohio State University offer students with any major or specialization the opportunity to belong. Tyler Zimpfer is the current president of the chapter at Ohio State. He is a senior majoring in agribusiness and applied economics and plans to go to law school for agricultural law.
“Our main goal is to provide a broad range of different interests. A lot of clubs are based on a certain department or major and we encompass so much more with majors, backgrounds and interests,” he said.
“We are excited about our future and a lot of the new members are young and excited. For a senior like me, it’s refreshing to see the excitement and the willingness to be involved.”
Zimpfer said the chapter has been in a rebuilding mode since 2019, learning what committees and officer roles look like as well as programming. A grant from American Farm Bureau provided funds toward that end. The group has been able to invite outside speakers to address group members as well as invest in some professional development for the officers.
“We’ve gotten to start some staple programs including a philanthropy event with Michigan State Collegiate Farm Bureau,” he said. The two colleges have competed twice now in the Food Fund Off to raise money for Feeding America leading up to the Ohio State/Michigan State football game in November. A total of $2500 was raised in 2020, which amounted to 25,000 meals to give back and this year, Ohio State came out on top again.
Both colleges receive support from Ohio Farm Bureau. Kelsey Turner is Ohio Farm Bureau’s leadership development specialist.
“Over the past year, Kelsey has been a great resource for us,” Zimpfer said. The chapter members also recently took a tour of the state Farm Bureau offices and met some of the other staff members.
Many collegiate members attend the annual Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience. Wilmington’s Kendel said the statewide conference helps connect students to their county Farm Bureau.
“Before coming to college, I wasn’t sure if I should be a member. This helps show the value at the county level,” she said. Some Wilmington collegiate members also are able to participate in Farm Bureau’s Ag Day at the Capital lobbying event.
Recently Wright State University Lake Campus reached out to Turner about the desire to start a chapter there.
“Ohio Farm Bureau is proud to see the growth and success of the collegiate chapters. In the past two years, we have had several schools reach out to us looking to start their own chapters,” she said. “This is a testament to our original chapters at Ohio State and Wilmington. They are meeting a need at their respective campuses and that can be replicated across campuses throughout the state.”
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Feature photo courtesy Wilmington College Collegiate Farm Bureau
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