By Jeremy Christian Nagel
Attendees at this year’s Michigan Farm Bureau Annual Meeting took a spin down Memory Lane by visiting an exhibit of archival photographs titled “MFB 100: Images From Our First Century.” It was a simple concept: We culled a slew of photos from the company’s deep collection and asked members for their input—their insights and knowledge and memories of the faces and places captured in these vintage images.
The exhibit was hugely popular and we collected a lot of information from the hundreds of members who perused this small sampling from a very large collection. The interest and interaction we saw validated our expectations that Farm Bureau members are interested in exploring the history of the organization that, for almost 100 years now, has built a unified community of farmers across two peninsulas and hundreds of commodities.
In addition to the photos we had printed and put on display, the exhibit also gave us the perfect venue for debuting MFB100.com, a web-based version of the same concept: look at old photos and share what you know about them—put names to faces, help identify the locations of old co-op elevators, or share memories of your times in the Junior Farm Bureau. There are hundreds and hundreds of great old photos waiting for you—and your input—at MFB100.com.
The photo exhibit also helped raise awareness of our upcoming centennial project—a yearlong celebration of MFB’s first century, scheduled to begin at next year’s annual meeting, Nov. 27-29, 2018.
Beyond the obvious purpose of commemorating our first 100 years, MFB’s Centennial Celebration has an overarching member-involvement mandate. We’ve accepted the challenge of making it the largest single member-engagement opportunity in the company’s history.
Our first efforts toward that goal begin NOW with the implementation of a new committee-like structure for county Farm Bureaus: the Local History Team. As county Farm Bureau boards reevaluate and reappoint their committees for 2018, we’re strongly encouraging them to add Local History Teams to the mix.
Local History Teams will be charged with gathering and organizing the historical photos, documents and artifacts unique to your county or counties, and using them to celebrate the legacy of your own agricultural community at a special event in 2019, the year of MFB’s centennial. We expect many counties will incorporate an historical theme to their annual meeting that year. We also hope to see some going the extra mile with stand-alone events or activities at county fairs or other settings that attract more than just the farm crowd.
The centennial project’s member-involvement mandate encompasses all members regardless of their current program involvement. I think this is a great opportunity for Community Action Groups to take a leading role in building unity across the big picture of our membership, and to sink their teeth into an important, tangible project of lasting importance.
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