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The 2024 Winter Leadership Experience may have come to end but the leadership development, industry knowledge and connections attendees gained from the conference will be invaluable throughout their careers. 

Jolene Brown, a professional speaker, author and farmer, led a workshop about  communication and conflict, fair and equal, entitlement and transition that provided laughter, appreciation and valuable lessons for those in family business. Hear from Jolene Brown:

Describe the path that led you to where you are today in your career.

Jolene Brown
Jolene Brown

I’ve been a professional speaker for three decades, bringing humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. At the beginning of my career, agriculture in the Heartland was in the midst of extreme challenge and change.Interest rates had reached 20% and land value crashed, devaluating individual net worths by 67%. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, suicide, and murder were the haunting words traveling our country roads. Because of my insight, talents, heart and calling, it was my goal to help build an “internal bank account” when the external one is gone. Since then, speaking topics have morphed, but always with a focus on the “humanside” of agriculture. As a real “Farmer Brown” and working at many ag events, it was obvious that we farmers, ranchers, and growers have many opportunities to learn about the production of agriculture. We learn about weeds, seeds, breeds, feeds, money, machinery, and marketing. Yet it is the people that do all of that production. And because our operations are most often generational businesses, my focus is building a family business worthy of transitioning, and learning what it takes to transition to the next generation. I so enjoy wrapping the important take-home value with interaction, template tools, humor and lots of real life stories. Also, as a keynote speaker, I specialize in opening, closing or banquet keynotes that bring laughter, appreciation and deserved celebration.

Why do you feel it’s important to speak/attend conferences such as the Winter Leadership Experience? 

Something magical happens when we gather with peers walking a similar journey. Our learning expands, our networks grow and the laughter, well it just bubbles out. The experience of attending an event like the Winter Leadership Experience gives a break in the busyness of our work. It creates a time to laugh and learn as we refresh, renew, and restore ourselves.

What do you hope attendees took away from your session? 

Jolene Brown session Ohio YAP 2024
Session title: “If We Huff and Puff, Will We Blow Your House Down?”

My topic for the Winter Leadership Experience is, “If We Huff and Puff, Will We Blow Your House Down?”

Some of the objectives include:

  • Learn the building “bricks and mortar” that create a productive and profitable family business, one that is worthy of transition to the next generation.
  • Define the prerequisites that must be met before ownership in family business is transitioned.
  • Identify the hidden areas of business agreements which often start as a conversation but must end in written documentation.
  • Receive 8 tested and immediately adaptable take-home tools needed to manage, lead and transition the education, experience and tangible assets of a business.
  • Understand the need for courtesy and celebration.
Attendee Perspectives

Tanner Matthews

Van Wert County, farmer and a part-time ag technology specialist with Precision Agri Services. 

Tanner Matthews
Tanner Matthews

I chose this session because it is difficult to try to take charge of planning the succession of the farm. Jolene is a phenomenal speaker that made the two hours we had with her feel like 10 minutes. I could listen to her speak for hours on end. She brings a refreshingly honest and businesslike approach to solving the ever evolving battle between successful farms, and dicey family dynamics. The biggest piece she presented and drove home was that we have to make decisions for our farms that are business smart, not family oriented as agriculture has a tendency to do. Not to say that family is not important, but agriculture likes to romanticize the family business and it’s treated more as a family than a business, which tends to lead to disputes, disruption, and the demise of the farm. The first step is to put in place vital business documents and practices that are commonplace in almost all industries. I believe I now have a strategy to take home and to implement little by little to make the farm a more standardized business for ease of things down the road and its daily operation. 

Halee Vanscoy

Hardin County, owner/operator of Copper Windmill Farms LLC and director of grain purchasing and risk management at a local cooperative. 

Halee VanScoyI chose to attend Jolene Brown’s session because my husband and I are in the thick of succession planning from both ends, from having conversations with his parents about our future involvement and growth in ownership with the family farm to creating our own legacy and thinking strategically about how we want to set up our children for success if they choose to be involved in the farming operation.

I’ve participated in multiple other succession planning sessions and workshops but very much appreciated Jolene’s tactical approach and hands on prep work that my husband and I are able to take back and implement on our own operation. One of our key takeaways is that we must first get our house in order before we have the right to ask his parents. Jolene was quick to remind us that it won’t all come together overnight, but to continue making that intentional chose to start somewhere and keep making progress little by little. It adds up! We very much appreciated Jolene’s kind words of encouragement and feel more empowered to keep our operation moving forward with resilience and purpose.

Thank you to the 2024 Winter Leadership Conference Sponsors

2024 Winter Leadership Experience Sponsors

The Winter Leadership Experience may be over but there are several other opportunities to get involved with Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals this year. Click Learn more about how you can make a difference in your community, Farm Bureau and agriculture. 

Updates and Announcements

Congratulations to the 2024 Young Agricultural Professionals contest winners:

Discussion Meet: Abby Campbell, Washington County

Excellence in Agriculture: Sara Tallmadge, Ashland County

Outstanding Young Farmer: Catherine Wolcott, Geauga County

These three ladies will represent Ohio at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Antonio in January 2025.

ExploreAg Camp applications available for 2024

ExploreAg is Ohio Farm Bureau’s signature ag literacy and workforce development program, and offers FREE week, multi-day and day-long immersion programs for high-school students. Applications open Feb. 1 and are due April 15, 2024.

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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