YF&R brings opportunities for young ranchers
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) started its Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) in 2002, meaning it is a new program, compared to many around the country.
“Our veteran WyFB members embraced younger members, helped them get involved and really looked to mentor them,” says Kerin Clark, WyFB media coordinator. “In just 15 years, we have six of our nine-member board at WyFB who have been through the YF&R program.”
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall started his career in the YF&R program in his home state of Georgia and has seen similar benefits in getting started in Farm Bureau at a young age.
“I remember going to the breakfast table one morning with my dad, complaining about the price of milk, regulations and labor – the same stuff we talk about today,” Duvall says. “My dad said, ‘Son, if you want to make a difference, you’ve got to get outside your fencerows.’”
Duvall’s father took him to a local Farm Bureau YF&R meeting, where he was elected vice chairman of his county.
“After that, I met the coordinator for YF&R for Georgia Farm Bureau,” he continues. “He encouraged me to get involved with the Young Farmer and Young Rancher Award Program.”
In 1981, Duvall was named winner of the Young Farmer Award in Georgia. Then, the following January, Duvall was selected as the recipient of the 1982 National Young Farmer Award.
“After that, we came back home,” Duvall says, noting he continued his involvement with the YF&R program in Georgia.
Duvall served as chairman of his state committee in 1986, sat on several statewide committees and worked on policy.
“Then, 18 years later in 2002, I ran to be on the board of directors in Georgia Farm Bureau,” he continues.
He served as a director for two years and then as president for nine years. In 2016, he ran for AFBF president, a position he has held since.
“My time at AFBF all started because of the YF&R program,” Duvall says.
For Duvall, YF&R influenced him to understand the importance of speaking positively for the industry.
“I was a shy guy,” he says. “I didn’t like to go to meetings, and I surely wouldn’t have said anything during those meetings.”
Duvall adds, “YF&R taught me that it was my duty to speak up. At the time, if I was asked to do the benediction prayer in church, I would have found a crack and crawled in. Now, I talk to thousands of people every week.”
The leadership component of the YF&R program is, above all, influential in the lives of young producers across the country.
“It’s interesting to see how that leadership program has developed,” Duvall comments. “The talented people who work in YF&R programs at both the state and national levels groom young people and let them find their God-given talents.”
Duvall concludes, “If it wasn’t for YF&R, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.