This winter Farm Gate introduces you to the new members of the state Young Farmer and Promotion & Education committees — in their own words.
By Alysa Sanford
I attended my first Farm Bureau State Annual Meeting at four months of age. Farm Bureau was a regular staple on our family’s calendar. My childhood was filled with playing with kids from my parent’s Community Action Group or other board members’ kids during meetings, helping out at mall days or setting up fair displays. As I grew I had the unique opportunity to be part of some of the first-ever Ag in the Classroom lessons. From development and piloting to training and assisting volunteers in the classroom, Farm Bureau was and still is part of my everyday life.
After graduating from Michigan State University, my husband and I began our life together, building our dreams of a family and a farm. We eventually purchased my husband’s grandfathers farm near Rives Junction in northern Jackson County. I began my career as an agriscience teacher and later had a chance to manage a large grant that taught students about growing food and making healthy eating choices.
As our family grew I was able to be home full-time to raise our kids and help make our dreams on the farm a reality. I began serving on my county Farm Bureau board as the P&E chair and later on the executive committee.
During my time on the board we grew our Project RED event and expanded several other outreach areas. We tried new things — some worked and some didn’t — but most importantly we tried. We connected with new volunteers, including several who later took on leadership roles of their own.
My husband and I made great friendships and had the privilege of competing at the district, state and national level in the Young Farmer Discussion Meet. As young farmers we took full advantage of trainings and conferences; I was even selected to complete the ProFILE leadership course.
We have been blessed with our five amazing kids (Adalyn, 11, Haven, 8, Judson, 6, Truman, 4, Lochlan, 2), our home and farm. Currently we raise pumpkins, corn, soybeans, wheat and turkeys as well as a few head of cattle, chickens and fair lambs for the kids.
The person I am today was in many ways shaped by Farm Bureau; it has been a constant. The connection to the members, the communities and the industry have impacted not only what I do but who I am. As I take on this new role on the state P&E committee, I know I still have much to learn, but also that I also offer many unique experiences and ideas. My time working in education, as a county P&E chair and as a mom have all equipped me with skills that I believe will benefit my district and the state. My story offers me the rare opportunity of appreciating where P&E has come from, understanding where it is today while taking hold of ideas that can lead us into the future.