2023 YAP conference

The 2023 Young Ag Professionals Winter Leadership Experience was held Jan. 27 and 28 at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. Young Ag Professionals from Ashtabula, Geauga, and Trumbull counties attended the 2023 Winter Leadership Experience. 

This annual event is an opportunity to enhance your leadership experience while building personal and professional skills. Attendees also had the opportunity to network with agricultural leaders, and those making a difference in our communities, Farm Bureau, and agriculture. 

Geauga County YAP
Kristen Sirna (Geauga), Meghan O’Reilly (Geauga), Callae Moody (Trumbull), and David Somrack (Geauga) attended the 2023 YAP Conference.

“Attending this year’s YAP Winter Leadership Conference at Kalahari offered a new experience. I have attended for the past five years and this year offered the most diverse learning sessions and a group of attendees that I can remember,” shared Geauga County Young Ag Professional Meghan O’Reilly.  “I attended learning sessions relevant to my career goals in the near future. I had the opportunity to learn about the Young Farmers Tax Credit that Farm Bureau had a large part in making happen. This, along with a succession planning session, gave me direction on how to move forward with taking a larger role in the family farm. I would say that each year that I have attended this conference I have gained knowledge that has motivated me to keep pursuing my passion for Ohio agriculture in any way I can.”

During this time attendees were able to network with others around the state of Ohio as well as attend a variety of sessions that included business and production agriculture, niche marketing, and career/leadership development topics.

Rachel Kalas, an Ashtabula member experienced her first Winter Leadership Experience.  “My favorite part of the conference was the breakout sessions. There were numerous sessions to pick from based on your interests. I was surprised at how family-oriented this event was, with many attendees having their children with them. Not only were children invited to attend, but grandparents and other family members were also allowed to attend as caregivers for the kids.

“During the breakout sessions, there was a special educational program, called Safari Camp,  offered for all school-age children. During Safari Camp my son learned about different commodities raised in Ohio; his two favorite topics were turkeys and apples. I was impressed with this event and the dedication shown by the YAP committee in hosting such a great conference,” Kalas said.

Keynote speakers were a huge hit with the crowd and included James Lawrence, the “Iron Cowboy” who shared the ups, the downs, and life lessons he learned after breaking several Guinness World Records. Additionally, a Fireside Chat led by four young entrepreneurs shared how they built their personal brands and businesses to leave a lasting legacy. The expert presenters include Dr. Sarah Ison, Dr. Marissa Hake, Kristin Patterson, and Rebecca Dalton. 

Geauga SWCD at YAP conference
Lisa Kalas and Katie Nainiger represented Geauga Soil & Water Conservation District.  As a Group Member, Geauga SWCD was able to send two of their staff to attend the conference for free!

Kristen Sirna of Geauga County said, “Hearing others discuss the way they did things, what worked and didn’t, make it easier for me to understand where I need to start. Marking your product up to the correct percentage, what systems and programs work best for small scale, and having simple platforms for your customers to use. These were all things I’ve been trying to learn and do but haven’t.” Kristen hopes to attend more conferences to continue improving herself and her family’s farm and business.

O’Reilly encourages anyone looking to expand their involvement in agriculture or Ohio Farm Bureau to attend the conference. “There were many opportunities to meet new people and develop professional connections during the evening socials.”

Young Active Members ages 18-24 enjoy all the benefits that our active members do, including having a voice in Farm Bureau’s ongoing advocacy and policy efforts. Farmers, agriculture students, or those whose work is directly impacted by the health of Ohio agriculture are invited to become a young active member. Learn more here!

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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