Wyoming represents at the 2014 Young Farmer and Rancher at Conference
Virginia Beach, Va. – “We, as young farmers and ranchers, are the voice for agriculture, and it is up to us to ensure a successful future for agriculture,” said Raenell Taylor, Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Wyoming State Chair.
Taylor, along with seven other members of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher program, attended the 2014 Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference that was held in Virginia Beach, Va. on Feb. 7–10.
The theme for the conference was “All Hands on Deck” and focused on the importance of young farmers and rancher’s involvement in agriculture and its future.
“This conference was a great opportunity to learn why it’s so important to have ‘All Hands on Deck’ with agriculture,” said Taylor.
Approximately 1,000 Farm Bureau members from across the United States attended the conference to listen to breakout sessions, compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Collegiate Discussions and take tours that AFBF had set up.
Wyoming’s representative for the AFBF Collegiate Discussion was Jake Bare, and Taylor says, “He competed with pride and certainly represented Wyoming with dignity.”
Bare was the winner of Wyoming’s State Collegiate Discussion, which enabled him to compete at the national level.
The discussions are designed to replicate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each collegiate participant. Participants are judged on their ability to exchange ideas and information on the agricultural topic and find answers or solutions to the discussion topic.
One of the breakout sessions at the AFBF YF&R focused on the use of social media and offered ways to help YF&R members learn how to utilize it to advocate for agriculture.
Johnna Miller of the AFBF led the Social Media session, and she explained the uses of social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“Social media helps to promote agriculture so that others can better understand what a day on today’s farms and ranches would be like,” said Taylor. “We can share our story and advocate for agriculture whenever the opportunity rises and share what farmers and ranchers do.”
Another breakout session at the conference was “Leading the Change,” which focused on growing great leaders and was specifically geared towards Farm Bureaus state chairs to help execute leadership skills and explain their role as chair of their YR&R committees.
“Leadership starts with understanding that leadership is a skill that can be learned and improved upon,” explained Taylor. “Building a strong team together is essential for success.”
Attendees were also able to partake in some tour options to some local operations and facilities during the last day of the conference. On one of the tours, attendees were able to visit a large-scale production grain facility and then visited the Perdue Farms import and export facility.
“We learned about international trade and the business of moving U.S. grain around the world,” described Taylor. “We also visited the Horsley Farm where they grow a variety of crops, and we had the opportunity to witness first hand the process of refilling ammonium sulfate to be spread via aerial application with a helicopter.”
Another one of the tours AFBF offered the first settlement in Virginia at Jamestown where attendees learned about farming practices that started there over 400 years ago.
Attendees were also able to learn about modern production and marketing at Smithfield Foods.
“Getting to see Smithfield’s headquarters and learning more about all of their products was awesome,” said Chalsey Kortes, YF&R member.
At the end of the conference, a majority of the YF&R that attended the conference traveled home with additional leadership skills, networking contacts and enthusiasm toward Farm Bureau and what role to take within the Farm Bureau.
Taylor stated, “I certainly left Virginia Beach with a new perspective of my role as the state chair for the Wyoming Farm Bureau YF&R program.”
Taylor added, “Everyone grew from this opportunity that attended the conference. Even if it was from just the simple act of networking with other members from other states.”
Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.