By Jeremy C. Nagel
LANSING — “Plan your work and work your plan” is the guiding notion underpinning the practice of county Farm Bureau goal-setting. As wintry weather clung on stubbornly throughout the springtime calendar, some county organizations have managed to tack a quick goal-setting session onto the end of their meeting season.
“Gratiot has a strong tradition of goal setting—at least every two years. They look at what they’ve done well, where they can improve and what their challenges are,” said Becca Gulliver, MFB’s Saginaw Valley regional rep. “They draft three to five goals for the year, which they review and finalize at a subsequent board meeting.”
This year’s session resulted in three goals for the year: workforce development, youth engagement and community outreach.
“We’re deciding what we can really accomplish and what're we really passionate about,” said Erin Humm, Gratiot County Farm Bureau president. “Our next step is to start talking about building some committees to discuss these goals, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) and get them knocked out.”
“Our community outreach goals include doing more public education through our Facebook page and county website. We’d love to do a series of consumer-friendly videos showing life on the farm throughout the year.”
Public relations is an evergreen priority in Gratiot, where Alma College faculty regularly impugn the integrity of local livestock farms, implying they pollute local waterways with runoff.
Youth engagement plans include incorporating local high school seniors who’ve completed agriscience programming and connect them into the county or collegiate Farm Bureau.
Gratiot also aims to partner with a local career fair to showcase agricultural careers for students at Montcalm and Delta community colleges—both home to two-year ag-tech programs through Michigan State University.
Van Buren County Farm Bureau’s recent goal-setting session identified two key priorities for the year: creating new programs and involving new members.
Their new-programming ideas begin with getting more mileage out of their award-winning ‘Ag Venture’ display (pictured) and conducting more frequent Ag-in-the-Classroom visits in area schools.
“The idea is to expand our community outreach efforts beyond just National Ag Week in March,” said Tod Kubiszak, Van Buren County Farm Bureau president.
They also hope to broaden attendance to their annual Summer Legislative Dinner by promoting the event beyond the farm community. Similarly, they hope to reinvigorate the area’s Blossomtime Queens’ tour by sharing its itinerary with regular members, inviting them to visit with the royals at any of their stops across the region.
Van Buren’s goal to involve more members in county activities includes making its annual meeting more member-friendly; moving summertime board meetings to members’ farms; and using phone or video conferencing resources to convene some meetings remotely.
The Saginaw County Farm Bureau board of directors recently checked in on the status of the goals they adopted last year.
“They really help keep us on track,” said Kate Mammel, Saginaw’s county administrative manager. “We’ve done really well this year. We’re building better relationships with our county commissioners, personally inviting them to come on our farmers’ market tour, which will also be passing some of our centennial farms.”
Mammel added that a still-outstanding goal Saginaw is working on is developing a fun activity that helps regular and associate members alike better understand the organization's purpose and what their membership dues accomplish.