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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Kent County Young Farmers Learn and Lead

Date Posted: March 4, 2024

This summer I joined Michigan Farm Bureau. At first it was for the insurance products and for help when I was talking with my township about Parkside Farm. But now I’m discovering some of the other benefits of membership: conferences, leadership training, professional and personal development opportunities.

In February, I was able to attend the Young Farmer and Rancher Leaders Conference in Port Huron: three days of talking farming, running an agritourism business, and hanging out with dozens of other people my age who are passionate about agriculture. I was one of five people from Kent County who attended.

The first day I got to tour Blake Farms in Armada, MI, home of the #3 hard cider in the nation. We got an extensive tour of their agritourism operations, farm market, bakery, hard cider production facility, and had an awesome make and take craft experience. We also got to learn during a staff panel discussion with lots of good Q & A. I hit it off with their Marketing Director and had such a great time connecting with her and others. 

Day two started with a powerful lunch presentation about impacting our local communities by taking actionable leadership steps to foster transformation and change for youth with agriculture. 

The day consisted of many breakout and brainstorming sessions and networking opportunities between districts. I sat in on four breakout sessions with topics covering: soil nutrient management, hosting events on your farm, a round table discussion about agritourism with cut flowers and photography venues, and engaging with your local municipalities and township on farm policies. 

It was a special treat to meet Ryan Coffey. He has been instrumental to me and Parkside Farm in the establishment of our agritourism operation the last eight months. We spent many hours on the phone discussing important topics such as the Right to Farm Act and the GAAMPs (Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices) in Michigan. I credit Ryan for helping me become who I find myself to be today: a growing and passionate AgVocate for small farms and agritourism enterprises. 

Throughout the day we had opportunities to hear from some of the incredible event sponsors including GreenStone Farm Credit Services and Consumers Energy. Our evening concluded with a banquet dinner and a keynote presentation on leadership. The presenter helped us develop empowering leadership styles based on careful self-assessment and self-awareness, focusing on sharpening our relational strengths, and working to address our relational weaknesses. 

The trivia contest that ended the night was educational and entertaining. 

I had breakfast on day three with some new faces involved with the Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmers. The training this day was on CPR, farm safety, and trauma incidents on the farm. We learned that approximately 50% of farming accidents happen to primary farm operators. Stress and exhaustion can impact our ability as farmers to make good decisions, so it’s important to take time to slow down and follow safety protocol when using farm equipment and when up high on ladders and machinery. 

We also learned proper CPR protocol and techniques for adults, children and infants. There was a demonstration on how to use an AED in instances when electric shock is needed to recalibrate or jumpstart a heart’s pulse. 

Did you know an adult can only lose a maximum amount of 2 liters of blood before you reach a point of no return? That will maybe give you 2 - 3 minutes to intervene in an emergency situation. We learned about when and how to use tourniquets in life-threatening situations and how to properly apply bandages in different areas and parts of the body. I will be purchasing several of the items recommended in this training to have on hand around the farm in case of emergency. 

I’m extremely grateful I stayed for he day three trainings. I am already looking into how we can host these life-saving seminars here at the county level and at the farm for locals in farming and in our communities. Michigan is experiencing a shortage of those in emergency services and it’s important we all do our part as farmers and citizens to be up to date on life-saving information. 

Thank you to Kent County Farm Bureau for sponsoring me to attend this incredible conference. One of the best things about Farm Bureau and the conference is and was the support and community! Everyone was so kind, generous and welcoming. I’ve not had a place where I feel I belong and fit in for a long time and had friends who could relate to my farm experiences. Farm Bureau has provided such an unexpected professional atmosphere and community that is such a blessing. 

Michigan Young Farmers hanging out.
Michigan Young Farmers hanging out.

I‘m already planning on attending the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher conference in Omaha in March, and the Growing Together Conference in 2025. This conference was just the beginning of many wonderful events and learning opportunities and experiences.