County Farm Bureaus seeking to profile an ideal member-volunteer, keep reading. For more detail — lots of it — cozy up with the nomination form for Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2023 Presidential Volunteer of the Year. It’s an exhaustive, 2,000-word treatise documenting every component of what makes Lynda Horning worthy of the award.
All it lacks is instructions for replicating her in a laboratory.
The 2023 Volunteer of the Year leads Promotion & Education in Washtenaw County — fertile ground for pro-farm outreach work, and where Horning matches or exceeds the legacy of P&E royalty that’s preceded her.
From those predecessors Horning inherited an ambitious slate of programming that puts agriculture’s best foot forward toward audiences in all the usual — and some unusual — venues. Her 30-year “agvocacy” resume is so expansive it stretches the boundaries of the program itself.
Long the backbone of P&E, efforts targeting local schoolchildren take center stage. Last school year that meant 32 sets of MFB Farm Crates delivered to 43 teachers across the county, reaching upwards of 900 students. In districts hosting the FARM Science Lab, classrooms receive ag-accurate books to continue learning long after the trailer pulls away.
The same books are stocked in local libraries where Horning strives to ensure fresh, seasonal displays also preach the gospel of Michigan agriculture to all patrons.
Older students involved in FFA are recognized with goodie pails upon earning their state degrees, participating in Washtenaw’s Master Showman contest, and for shepherding young participants as chapter advisors.
There in the county where it was invented, Horning leads Washtenaw’s Project RED (Rural Education Days) event, a three-day mini-expo that this year reached more than 1,700 third-graders in 16 schools.
There’s no letup come summer and the county’s three community fairs. Ensuring agriculture maintains a strong voice at all of them involves hours recruiting volunteers, developing interactive learning materials, setting up the physical site and remaining there to help administer no end of “ag-tivities.”
Come fall it’s time for one of Horning’s innovations: a county P&E kickoff event where current volunteers are recognized and new ones recruited — almost 50 total this year. Soon after it’s time for the seasonal Treat of Agriculture, a take on Halloween that reaches more than 300 adults and young people combined and involves dozens of volunteers.
After a four-year, post-COVID hiatus, Horning brought back Washtenaw’s farm-safety program, spotlighting hazard awareness common to rural communities. Only a third of the 50+ attendees were Farm Bureau members, meaning it was as promising for membership as it was P&E.
Several of those programs are new to Washtenaw’s calendar and were innovated under Horning’s leadership. Since taking on P&E, she’s doubled the committee’s size and keeps her team on track and moving forward with regular monthly meetings.
She’s also active in programs outside P&E, from leadership meet-ups and a Community Action Group to service on the county board.
Underpinning her lengthy involvement roster is an equally comprehensive list of qualities that equip Horning for excellence: Committed, passionate, motivational, timely, dependable and humble are just the single-word examples.
She’s organized, detailed and fastidious — a balancer of budgets, keeper of records and taker of notes... A savvy planner who follows through on commitments and delegates specific responsibilities appropriately, she makes herself accessible, she listens and encourages and empowers.
A team player and encouraging leader, Horning inspires others to not just contribute, but to excel. She’s inclusive, inviting others to participate — and then appreciative of those contributions, generous with recognition and giving credit where it’s due.
Driven, curious and seemingly insatiable, Horning scours seminars, conferences and webinars in search of new ideas to bring home and adapt to her home team and their local audiences.
A convincing, persuasive recruiter with a keen eye for talent, Horning supports, mentors and invests in her people — like with the comprehensive resource handbook she developed for P&E volunteers, full of practical guidance for new and experienced members alike.
Farm Bureau’s success comes from the kind of effort and excellence leaders like Lynda Horning bring to the organization. The Presidential Volunteer of the Year Award honors those who exhibit next-level commitment to agriculture locally, and who inform the success of their county Farm Bureau.
As the 2023 Presidential Volunteer of the Year, Horning receives a $1,000 award and another $1,000 for her county Farm Bureau. To ensure your local superstar is in the running next year, click here for contest details.