“Life’s too short, so find something you love to do.”
That’s sound advice from anyone, but from the mouth of Breann Bonga it comes with the weight of firsthand authority. President of the Montcalm County Farm Bureau since its 2019 annual meeting last fall, Bonga struggled to find fulfillment in her previous career at the Montcalm County Health Department.
“I was a Farm Bureau member for many years before eventually being approached to help with its local Promotion & Education program,” she said.
It wasn’t long before Montcalm County’s P&E chair job was made a voting position on the county Farm Bureau board of directors, giving Bonga an even more direct decision-making authority.
That led to the executive committee — third member, vice president, now president — but none of that’s slowed her participation in other program areas. She’s still involved with P&E and is co-chairing Montcalm’s membership campaign this year.
“Membership’s going well so far. We’re hitting all our target points and have signed up several new members,” Bonga said. “We had a farm safety event planned for March we had to cancel, but more recently we came up with an idea for a drive-through ice-cream social for later this summer at Anderson & Girls,” a popular local agritourism destination with close Farm Bureau ties.
“We’re excited about that, and I like that we’re still coming up with something different to try.”
Her P&E committee recently distributed goody bags to health care workers at area hospitals serving on the front lines of the ongoing struggle against coronavirus. Other staple P&E activities in Montcalm’s repertoire are on hold for the time being, including a well-attended Project RED at the county fair.
Normally tied into both March is Reading Month and National Ag Week — reaching hundreds of students across the county’s seven school districts —the county’s Ag in the Classroom efforts were all teed up for this past spring, but were put on ice just like everything else.
“At least we have all our supplies for next year,” Bonga said.
“Our goal with membership is just to get people involved,” Bonga said. “We’ve had a really good response to our safety event in previous years. It gets members involved and reinforces the value of that membership.”
Similarly, Bonga observed how MFB’s recent action request — urging members to vocally support the opening of greenhouses and garden centers — stirred up a groundswell of fresh new member engagement.
“That was an eye-opener for many members,” she said, “and really helped show we stand behind our people.”
Bonga and her husband Jason raise hay, horses and steers near Stanton with their boys Brayden, 14, and Brock, who turns seven next month.