Originally distilled from a slew of passionate-member testimonials—and compiled by one of their own—Farm Gate’s “Grass Roots Voices” series in this issue completes its trial run with these kind words from the Thumb’s Chris Creguer.
Grass Roots Voices isn’t just about Farm Bureau patting itself on the back, though.
“This isn’t really about us congratulating ourselves,” said MFB Member Communications Specialist Jeremy C. Nagel. “Member commentaries—in their own words—really do an outstanding job explaining the value of Farm Bureau membership in practical, relatable terms.
“Testimonials like these make for fantastic marketing language. They’re the kinds of words we all should have at the ready to explain what Farm Bureau’s all about, and to encourage non-members to consider joining.”
The next generation of Grass Roots Voices will take on a new format: video.
Looking to maximize the use of our “Share Your Farm Bureau Story” video booth at the recent MFB annual meeting, Nagel spent two days recording member conversations that often wandered far afield from the original “Farm Bureau Story” concept.
We’ve barely begun editing those recordings into a shareable form, but here are a few teasers to give you an idea of what’s in store:
“There’s a lot to gain, so when you see the opportunity to gain, you give. I’ve gained a lot as a person. The friendships I’ve gained across the state are the first thing—the networking opportunities Farm Bureau gives you… When you have an opportunity to knock on a door three hours away from your house and an old friend gives you a hug, that’s pretty cool… But then, when you get the opportunity to go speak in the senate, to make a point, and your voice is heard? As a Young Farmer, to be asked to go to the state senate and make a presentation was a big opportunity for me, and I saw the value immediately of what Farm Bureau does in its political reach.
—Todd Fox, Oceana County
“The value is so all legislators know their district has an interest in agriculture. Legislatively, the things Farm Bureau does are, to me, among the biggest things. Fifty bucks for a membership is a steal: you’ve got lobbyists in Lansing, you’ve got an ear to the ground, you know what’s happening.”
—Tim Matchett, Charlevoix County
“It’s allowed us to get together and communicate on a level we couldn’t have before. We can share ideas. We’re going through the same thing as other Young Farmers … it’s comforting. We’ve found common ground with everyone we’ve met. We all have the same troubles, even though one guy’s got 10,000 acres and another guy’s got 10. Your tractor still breaks down, you still get stuck in the mud, you still have to close the gates, you still have to get things to your customers on time… It’s all the same even though there’s a different product and a different level of growing.”
—Christian Flickinger, Oakland County
Networking & Common Ground
“One of the great opportunities, especially within Young Farmers, is the networking. When you … get to know and develop relationships with other younger farmers around the state, you realize pretty quickly you’re all in the same boat: Nobody gets along with their dad. Everybody fights about who’s gonna buy the farm next. Everybody thinks their brother’s lazy and that they do more work than they do. Everybody’s wife is mad because you missed dinner and came home at two in the morning. Everybody, literally everybody’s in the same boat. It starts to make it a little easier as you go through your life. You develop peer groups as you get older with guys around the state who you trust and you talk things over with.”
—Jeff Vanderwerff, Ottawa County
As Grass Roots Voices continues over the coming weeks and months, you’ll also hear from some of these great members (and a few staff, just for fun) who took the time to share their thoughts: Cody Baker, Ben Blahoe, Andrea Boughton, Jennifer Earls, Steve Gazdag, Brian Heffron, Kathleen “Popcorn Lady” Hirsch, Terry Histed, Bradley Jericho, Ron “About Average” Nelson, Barb Radewald, Joan Runkel, Bill Spike, Steve Thelen, Sara Trattles, David Vering, Carla Wardin and Lisa Zelinsky.
To contribute your own Grass Roots Voice, drop us a line at Farm Gate.