Christian Tollini has scrambled quickly up the Presque Isle County Farm Bureau’s leadership ladder. After only a few years of membership, and one on the board of directors, the young cattleman is holding the reins.
By day Tollini is a field crops educator with Michigan State University Extension, conducting on-farm research projects and, in a normal year, lots of field days for growers. He earned his crop and soil science degree from MSU in 2016 and is now working toward a master’s in agronomy from Iowa State.
In what spare time that leaves him, Tollini helps out on his family’s beef and crop farm near Onaway, tending cattle and fields of corn, hay and small grains.
“Overall we have a pretty young board,” he said, and while they’re eager to try some new things, 2020 so far hasn’t offered them many opportunities.
The coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on much of what Presque Isle County Farm Bureau had on tap for the first half of 2020. Caught in that viral snare was the county’s marquee springtime event, Small Animals Day, which normally attracts hundreds of young people from across the county to interact with child-size livestock at a popular garden center in Rogers City.
“Unfortunately that had to get cut this year,” Tollini said, “but hopefully it’ll be back, bigger and better next year.”
A related COVID victim is the annual sunflower-growing contest Presque Isle sponsors that culminates in a judging event at the county fair, with prizes going to the kiddos who cultured the tallest plant and largest flower. Trouble is those seeds are first distributed to attendees at Small Animal Day, so…
“Our next big event coming up is our county annual meeting,” Tollini said. “We’ve previously had that in October but we wanted to try bumping it up into August this year. We think it’ll definitely help with attendance.”
Still warming up in the bullpen and eager to hit the field, virus permitting, are ideas for a member appreciation dinner and re-energized Young Farmer events.
“We’re sponsoring a field day for growers as well, so hopefully when things start opening up again, we can get back to work!”