By Bob Carlin
One of the most valuable experiences a person interested in political matters can have is to be accepted into Michigan Farm Bureau's Academy for Political Leadership. Whether you’re thinking about running for a public office or just wanting to know more about how our system works, the Academy is an essential first step.
As a graduate of the 2019 class, I can easily say I came away with a deeper understanding of how to become a candidate, what to plan for, what the staff should do, whether to run, how much it costs and how to get started.
Guest speakers take the class through a very complicated political system, discussing topics from the state budget to federal deficit spending as well as mass media use and personal presentation.
Perhaps the highlight was the Washington, D.C. class with a discussion at the White House with officials working for the President. I believe we truly had an impact with all the leaders we spoke with. One realizes the necessity of speaking to our elected leaders on issues effecting agriculture when we witnessed them writing down our comments at the White House meeting.
Aside from our discussions with leaders, pollsters, economists and news media people, another valuable asset to come out of the experience was seeing the class become a dynamic and effective team. After the time we spent together and the many candid discussions, class members gained an invaluable understanding of each other. This is the essential building block of team building. The Academy taught the value of the team, in which the team augments the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of its members. In a campaign, the team augments the effectiveness of the candidate. The knowledge I obtained over the Academy’s four months will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I thank our Farm Bureau mentors and guest speakers for their hard work. Special thanks to MFB mentors Matt Kapp, Melissa Palma, Sarah Black and President Carl Bednarski for their support. Additional thanks to the Shiawassee Farm Bureau board for nominating me. Thanks as well to all the MFB personnel who put effort into the success of this year’s class. Finally, thanks to my classmates and new friends for their insightful comments and support during our time together.
Bob Carlin serves on the Shiawassee County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is a graduate of MFB’s Academy of Political Leadership.