Ashley Kennedy never thought she’d be standing on a national stage in Atlanta as a top-10 finalist for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Achievement Award.
“The state process was a lot of fun. I applied because my local board asked me, and I wanted to lead by example since I am our vice president.” Kennedy said. “Having my regional manager review my application and give me advice helped a lot.”
Kennedy was chosen as a state finalist and survived a panel interview with industry leaders last April: “It felt like a conversation. I had a lot of fun while sharing about my farm and my life. It was refreshing to be able to share the things I think are unique and that I enjoy.”
Ashley runs a dairy outside Bad Axe, alongside her husband Eric and their daughters Calli and Adeline. The farm also grows hay, corn and has started direct-to-consumer beef marketing. As an active member of the Huron County Farm Bureau, she finds value in giving back to her community through involvement in her local Rotary Club, mental health advocacy and frequent on-farm tours.
When asked about her experience, Kennedy encouraged all Young Farmers to jump in.
“Everyone should apply for the awards. Farmers are so humble and we often feel like we accomplish very little in a day, week or year.”
Just completing the application, she said, was unexpectedly rewarding.
“The application puts into a compact form how much our businesses have grown — that alone helped me feel accomplished,” she said.
“But my favorite part of the entire process was going to the national convention. You’re with a group of other Michigan Young Farmers through the week and I had so much fun getting to know everyone — going out to dinner, adventuring through the city and making a list of new friendships. Honestly it’s something I will remember for years to come and I wish everyone could experience it.”
While admitting that the prep work can be daunting, the payoff at the state and national levels makes it all worthwhile.
“Also, you aren't alone: You have an entire team supporting you, they have resources and help you through the entire thing. I showed up to convention knowing I was giving my all and confident, regardless of the outcome.”
Want your opportunity at great prizes and the recognition you’ve worked hard for? Want a better bead on your impact and leadership journey? Not sure? Visit Michigan Farm Bureau website, review the award categories and apply!
And don’t be shy calling up your MFB Regional Manager for help.
If you’re not a Young Farmer but know a great one, tell them why you think they’re deserving and encourage them to apply. Applications are due March 1, so get on it!