By Alyssa Bednarski
Farming isn’t for the faint of heart and every farmer’s story differs from the next, but each journey is valuable and should be recognized. One way Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) recognizes the journeys of hard-working, up-and-coming leaders is through the Young Farmer Awards.
As the 2020 Young Farmer Agriculture Leader Award Recipient, Katelyn Packard didn’t win her first time out. She had applied for these awards before, and each year she watched her application grow and change as she continued to deepen her involvement in Michigan Farm Bureau and the agriculture industry. Filling out the award application each year has helped her reflect on how much she accomplishes each year and has led to a greater appreciation of her own growth, allowing her to feel proud of the hard work she had done. Each long and frustrating day, along with the great ones, comes together to showcase her accomplishments. The victories that might seem small in the moment, shine when you put them on paper, one of the many reasons on why young farmers should apply.
Katelyn didn’t do this alone, with the support from her husband, family, Farm Bureau Regional Manager, and other county Farm Bureau members, she submitted her application in 2020. After being selected for the Sweet 16, Katelyn moved on to the interview process, which went virtual due to COVID-19. While the thought of virtual interviews was initially daunting, Katelyn’s nerves were soon calmed after practicing with MFB who offered tips and solutions to issues she may have encountered-especially as someone who struggles with rural internet connection.
The interview process went well and was effective, despite being virtual. Katelyn expressed that she was still able to network and create connections with other young farmers. “To meet those other young farmers has been a great opportunity. It’s nice to have your county young farmers that are all local and you have that in common but it’s different to meet the young farmers that are willing to take that next step in involvement and apply for the awards. That’s a whole different group with a commonality that I wouldn’t have necessarily made the connection with otherwise.”
Networking with others can open doors to new opportunities for many young farmers, like Katelyn, these experiences are valuable and could be only one application away!
Katelyn shared that there is no reason for other fellow young farmers not to apply, yes, we are talking to you!
“All those frustrating times allowed me to really see my progress and growth,” Katelyn said. “This resulted in great networking opportunities and prizes.” You never know what can come out of your very own experiences and application. Find more information on types of awards and 2021 prizes at www.michfb.com/MI/YFAwards