This month’s Voice of Agriculture Conference in Port Huron marked a changing of the guard on MFB’s state-level Promotion & Education Committee. A quartet of outgoing members were thanked for their years of service to the body as newcomers adjusted to the big new shoes they’ve stepped into.
Taking their leave of the state P&E Committee are Cathy Genovese from Oakland County, Pam Thom of Sanilac County, Mason County’s Lyndsay Earl and former state P&E Chair Sharon Kokx of Barry County.
Genovese served two terms on the committee. She owns Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm in Oakland County, where she has also served on the county Farm Bureau board since the 1990s and supported countless outreach activities.
Thom and her family raise cattle and row crops in Sanilac County, where she also is Team Leader for CentralStar Cooperative, providing DHI testing. She’s also helped her local P&E committee execute ag-outreach activities. She served five years on the state P&E committee.
Kokx from Barry County served five years on state P&E, most recently as chair, helping grow outreach efforts locally and statewide. She and her husband Mick grow pumpkins and sweet corn sold through local retailers, and fresh vegetables at their own farm stand.
Earl represented Dist. 7 for three years on the state P&E committee. As an MMPA member representative, she works with dairy farmers to monitor and troubleshoot milk quality issues. She and her husband Seth currently serve on the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher Committee.
Joining the committee to represent the new District 10 is Jim McArdle from Iosco County. And while its district boundaries may be new to the Farm Bureau map, McArdle’s stretch of the northeastern Lower Peninsula faces some familiar old challenges — namely member involvement — but his new-guy enthusiasm already has him wrenching on remedies.
“A lot of it has to start out with showing members respect and asking them simple things,” he said in a recent conversation about the organization’s ever-present member-involvement question. “Many times, when it comes to an event you’re trying to put on, you want to give them the smallest thing there is — maybe nothing more than ‘Can you get a few people here?’
“Keep it simple because they don’t have a ton of time and some don’t have a desire to be front and center, but still want to be supportive.”
With years of experience helping plan successful local events in part of the state where active Farm Bureau members and agriculture itself are thin, McCardle knows success is built of little successes.
“One little thing,” he said. “Once they feel and see the success of it — they see where it helps somebody” and it can be enough to hook them into a long run of successful member engagement.
Michigan Farm Bureau’s recently redistricting incurred a related rearrangement of both district-based state committees. Both the state P&E and Young Farmer committees were previously based on two representatives from each district. Under the new scheme approved late last year, each district will now contribute a single representative appointed by the district director. Three additional members will serve at-large.
For more information, contact Tonia Ritter, 517-679-5345.