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As the seasons begins to change, Ohio Farm Bureau begins to transition to the contests and conferences part of the year for Young Ag Professionals. In January 2024, three state contest winners will compete in the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture, Outstanding Young Farmer and Discussion Meet contests at the AFBF Annual Convention in Salt Lake City. These contests are designed to highlight their involvement in Farm Bureau and the industry. 

Nick and Bailey Elchinger from Henry County will be competing in the Excellence In Agriculture competition that focuses on individuals or couples who do not have a majority of their gross income subject to normal production risk.
Nick Bailey Elchinger
Nick and Bailey Elchinger

Describe your role in agriculture and your Farm Bureau involvement

We live and farm in northwest Ohio with our two young daughters, Parker and Chloe. I (Bailey) currently serve as a grain risk management consultant and regional director for StoneX Financial Inc. I have the opportunity to assist grain and livestock producers as well as grain elevators in managing the risks they face in the commodity futures markets. Nick farms full-time with his brother bailing hay and straw as well as row crop farming. In addition, they also sell and service Precision Planting products, allowing them to work with producers throughout the region and assist them in “making every seed count.” I currently serve on the Henry County Farm Bureau board and was recently elected president. We also served on the State Young Ag Professionals Committee from 2020-2023. In 2014, I was selected as the state Discussion Meet winner and represented Ohio in San Antonio at the American Farm Bureau annual meeting. When not working, farming, or volunteering you can find us taking our daughters to pig shows around the country.

Why did you choose to apply for this contest?

We chose to apply for the contest because it is something we have always wanted to do! When we heard about the contests years ago, we decided that this was something we wanted to work toward. This award has allowed us to really take an introspective look at the work we have done to better ourselves and our community, all while focusing on our “why.” Our “why” is people. In addition to wanting to leave a legacy for our children, we also want to make a positive impact on the PEOPLE around us. 

Brad Weaver from Wyandot County will be competing in the Achievement Award that focuses on helping young farmers strengthen their business skills, develop marketing opportunities and receive recognition for their accomplishments.
Brad Weaver
Brad Weaver

Describe your role in agriculture and your Farm Bureau involvement

I am a sixth generation farmer in Wyandot County and the sole owner of Murphy Family Farms, LLC, and I currently serve on the Wyandot County Farm Bureau board. 

Why did you choose to apply for this contest? 

I chose to apply for this contest because a fellow board member suggested that I apply. She thought that I would be a good representative of our county and Ohio Farm Bureau. I am honored to represent Ohio as the Outstanding Young Farmer, and it has been a journey of self-reflection and community engagement. Through this experience, I’ve been privileged to exchange ideas with fellow young farmers from diverse backgrounds. I have had many opportunities to share my passion for agricultural data and technology as well as implementing sustainable practices.This honor has allowed me to foster lasting connections and pave the way for a promising future in farming. I would highly recommend that young farming professionals apply.

Katherine Brown of Stark County will be competing in the Discussion Meet contest that simulates a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each committee member.
Katherine Brown
Katherine Brown

Describe your role in agriculture and your Farm Bureau involvement

I grew up and have since moved back home to the family farm in Louisville, Ohio where my dad, uncle and husband operate a dairy and raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. During the day I work for Pivot Bio as a territory sales manager for northeast Ohio working with channel partners and growers across the state to better their corn nitrogen programs with our products whether that be in the field scouting during the growing season or in the shop doing product education. Outside of work I can be found doing anything that requires or wants an extra set of hands on the farm which looks different every day, but most of the time is doing barn chores for the dairy cattle. 

I currently serve as a board member on the Stark County Farm Bureau. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with Ohio Farm Bureau since my early college years for as long as I can remember, starting with the Collegiate Farm Bureau at Ohio State and the annual YAP Winter Leadership Experience events. During that time I even got to compete nationally in the Collegiate Discussion Meet in 2018.

Why did you choose to apply for this contest?

I decided to apply for Discussion Meet because while I was in the Collegiate Farm Bureau at Ohio State, I had the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level and had the best time. Many people assume it’s a debate, but it is unique in the aspect that it is quite the opposite since it is structured and judged as a committee meeting. Another thing that I appreciate about the Discussion Meet is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone and allows you to improve your overall knowledge, communication, etc. It has also given me a deeper appreciation of understanding everything Farm Bureau does across a local, state, and national level. Not only do you have to be educated on each topic, but you also have to have strong communication skills and be flexible enough to work among the people in your round with different communication styles, ideas and personalities to reach a common consensus and solve real-world issues by the end. 

Interested in competing?

The AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher contests are a great way to develop and build leadership skills while fostering networking among the top young agriculturalists in the nation. Ohio Farm Bureau is proud of the winners who will be representing Ohio in Salt Lake City! If you are interested in learning more about contest opportunities, contact [email protected]

Deadlines and reminders

American Farm Bureau YF&R Connect call Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. Register

Discussion Meet applications due Oct. 30, 2023 at 5 p.m. Apply

Outstanding Young Farmer applications due Dec. 22, 2023 at 5 p.m. Apply

Excellence in Agriculture applications due Dec. 22, 2023 at 5 p.m. Apply

American Farm Bureau YF&R Conference Scholarship applications due Jan. 15, 2024 at midnight. Apply

Save the Date: 2024 Winter Leadership Experience, Columbus, Jan. 26-27. Registration opens Oct. 11.

New Ohio Landowner Toolkit released

USDA seeking nominations to the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Click here for more information.

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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