Attendees at the recent FUSION Conference in Milwaukee witnessed a changing of the guard on two key national-level Farm Bureau committees, including the stepping-down of three Michigan leaders. Monroe County couple Mark and Sarah Mathe stepped down after two years’ service on AFBF’s Young Farmer & Rancher Committee; and Renee McCauley of Kent County stepped down after her service on the national organization’s inaugural Promotion & Education committee.
Young Farmer & Rancher
Mark and Sarah Mathe describe their first year on the YF&R Committee as “a whirlwind, struggling to learn how everything works from the senior committee members,” followed by a second year of putting those lessons in motion. “It’s intentionally rigorous to force you to think on your feet and solve problems as they arise.”
Now they’re eager to apply those lessons and experiences back home in Monroe County. Specifically they’re looking to up members’ game in advocacy and public speaking.
“The most important role we can fill is to tell the story of agriculture and provide opportunities for public outreach,” they said. “The public wants to know what we do and why we do it—we just need to give them the answers and why it is important to them.
“Far and away, the Young Farmer & Rancher Committee has been the most impactful and most valuable leadership development program in which we have ever participated. The friendships we’ve built with like-minded individuals from across the country will remain with us for the rest of our lives.”
Promotion & Education
Renee McCauley observed the satisfying immediacy of working among the grass-roots at the national level is forced to adopt a more measured pace.
“I am not that patient, so it was an adjustment to work on a broader canvas where you may not see an immediate result,” McCauley said, noting that national-level service made different demands on her skills and ultimately strengthened her self-acknowledged shortcomings.
She looks forward to continuing her advocacy back home, sharing farmers’ stories via social media and keeping agriculture in classrooms.
“The networking one sees by being involved is critical to us as farmers, but more importantly to the industry as a whole,” she said. “No matter the geography or commodity, we need to connect and work together to continue to strengthen the value of agriculture.”
Also representing Michigan at this year’s FUSION Conference
were members Mary Crosby, Seth and Lyndsay Earl, Rachelle Heck, Lynda Horning, Jessica
Marks, Jim May, Joe and Katelyn Packard, Emma Rose, Aaron and Barb Roth, Grace and Kate Schmidt, Bronson Stolte, Ron and Rose Thomet, Mason Trinkle, Christian and Katie Flickinger, Adam Dietrich, Sharon Kokx, Samantha Ludlam, Warren Schauer, Julie
Stephenson and Nancy Thelen.