NOTE: This is the first of 16 profiles looking at this year’s crop of Young Farmer Award finalists. The four winners were chosen back in March, but all 16 are outstanding and Farm Gate wants to know more about how they tick…
By Jeremy C. Nagel
CARO, TUSCOLA COUNTY — Chris and Karly Creguer share an upbeat, we’ll-get-‘em-next-year attitude about not bringing home this year’s Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture trophy. They also share a fueled-up enthusiasm suggesting their day-by-day execution of excellence within the industry is more than enough to keep them humming along. The Creguers are focused on leveraging their Farm Bureau involvement to help connect them with their communities and with each other.
A Huron County native from the Elkton area, Chris defected south across the border to Tuscola, where his home-based Pioneer Seed business services growers across the Thumb. Karly is a transplant from Atlanta—not exactly Farmville, but working in the Thumb as an MSU Extension nutrition educator has fast tracked her education about the diversity and intricacy of Michigan agriculture.
Now they live outside Unionville with their young daughter, Meredith. I caught up with them on a weekday morning that put Chris in the Tuscola County Farm Bureau office, where a multi-county candidate evaluation team was formulating its recommendations for the 84th state house district.
“Karly and I have differing interests, and yet we’re still involved with the common organization,” Chris said. “There are so many facets to Farm Bureau—the policy side, candidate endorsement, Young Farmer and the social/involvement side. Then you look at community outreach and education, Project RED, Dinner on the Farm…
“I’m more into the policy and politics, while she’s more into consumer education, but we both find events and programs that fit our interests.”
Karly’s work as a nutrition educator puts her in direct contact with the full spectrum of residents in both Tuscola and Lapeer counties—preschoolers to senior citizens—often with a focus on people with limited incomes.
“So I’m more on the education side, getting accurate information out to consumers as a nutrition program instructor,” she said. “I’m interested in recruiting more people to help out with promotion, doing more lunch-and-learn or dinner-and-learn events.
“I like to be involved in our community and help give back. I’m not from this area originally, and I don’t come from an agricultural background, but I’m learning—learning about agriculture and meeting new people all the time.”
Chris says their Farm Bureau involvement is rooted in a common goal.
“Both our professional roles are highly involved in and dependent on the agriculture industry—mine on the production side, Karly’s on the consumption side. We want to see agriculture continue to be a healthy, thriving industry.”
The communication focus of Farm Bureau’s social- and leadership-heavy Young Farmer program feeds both Chris and Karly’s workaday lives.
“Listening in on Young Farmer Discussion Meets, I’ve learned a ton about agriculture,” Karly said. “I take those insights back to my work life.”
Chris’ work with the Thumb’s hardcore production set is made easier by the connections he makes through various Farm Bureau activities.
“On the networking side, at a Young Farmer event, you meet dozens of people you make useful connections with,” he said, “including people who link you with business or educational opportunities you weren’t aware of.”
Both Chris and Karly Creguer have quick, unhesitating answers to that perennial question about Farm Bureau involvement: “What’s in it for me?”
“Our award category was ‘Excellence in Agriculture,’” Chris said. “To me, excellence in agriculture is all about how you build a bridge between ag and your community. A lot of what we do in our professional roles and our involvement in Farm Bureau falls directly in line with that concept.”
Keep your radio dial tuned to Farm Gate for more profiles of our outstanding Young Farmer finalists.
Sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, Young Farmer Awards recognize outstanding young farmers, agriculture employees and advocates for leadership roles in Farm Bureau, agriculture and the local community. County Farm Bureau members highlight their accomplishments in four award areas: Young Farmer Achievement, Excellence in Agriculture, Young Agriculture Leader and Young Agriculture Employee.