Eleven county Farm Bureaus start the New Year with new leadership in place, and it’s Farm Gate’s pleasure to introduce them in small batches. This time let’s meet the new presidents in neighboring Clare and Gladwin counties.
Just over a year ago, Rodabaugh’s uncle, Randall Willford, died unexpectedly while serving in the same role Amanda’s just taken on.
“At the funeral my dad gave a eulogy and talked about filling his shoes,” she remembers. “He said it would take all of us because Randy was involved in a lot of stuff.
“Two weeks before he passed away, Uncle Randy asked my husband Rusty and I if we wanted to be on the board. We said we’d love to.
“Farm Bureau’s been part of our family for a really long time. I remember going to annual meetings with our great-grandparents,” Rodabaugh said. “My kids are eighth-generation members. It’s part of who we are as a family.
“I grew up farming sheep, and as I got older my grandpa got more into cattle and crops. Now we raise about 30 sheep — lambing right now — about five miles west of Gladwin.”
In June of last year she also started working at Duane Simpkins’ Farm Bureau Insurance agency in Gladwin, giving her a whole new perspective on the organization.
“I get to see our members every day,” she said, adding that the agency writes most of Gladwin County’s memberships. “We have a good member base because we have a good agent.”
Building that membership even further is one of her priorities for the year.
“The biggest thing we’d like to do is build up our board and our membership,” she said. “My other goal for this year is to become more of the face of Farm Bureau in Gladwin County, so when people see Farm Bureau they think of the farm side as well as the insurance company.”
Rodabaugh also hopes to sweeten the pot of local membership benefits and promote them in traditional and social media outlets.
In Clare County, Tony Wood takes over from Travis Schunk.
Wood’s in his third year teaching agriscience and leading FFA at Clare-Gladwin CTE (Career & Technical Education). He built the program pretty much from the ground up and started early with overtures to the local farming community.
“Being new in the agriscience position in our first year, I made an effort to reach out to the county Farm Bureaus,” Wood said. “At the time one of our RESA board members was Clay Maxwell, who’s very involved in the Gladwin County Farm Bureau.”
As Clare’s term limits bared down on its previous leadership, they approached Wood to gauge his interest.
“So far it’s been a good experience,” Wood said, quickly crediting veteran CAM Vicki Donovan and Regional Manager Sonya Novotny with helping him get up to speed on the nitty gritty of county Farm Bureau presidency.
“My wife and I run a small beef operation in Clare, and over the years we’ve boarded horses and gotten involved in some hay production.”
He hopes the theme of his day job will translate into the county Farm Bureau’s to-do list for 2021.
“Being in ag education, that would be an area I would gravitate toward. Our chapter year before last was able to host a Project RED. Our students participated in the presentations, tours and visits with our member farmers.”
Tune in again March 2 to meet another batch of aspirational new county Farm Bureau leaders.