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Wise counsel from YF Award winners: ‘It’s great to connect’

Mark and Jamie Trowbridge raise hay and cattle in St. Joseph County’s Leonidas Township.
Date Posted: February 17, 2023

With the deadline for Young Farmer Award applications quickly approaching, recent winners Mark and Jamie Trowbridge want to share their experiences from 2022, and offer some guidance to this year’s prospective applicants.

The couple took the 2022 Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award home to St. Joseph County, but it wasn’t their first time applying. They’d first tried year before but didn’t make it to the final-round interviews — a shortfall that ended up motivating them to improve their application the next time around.

“We weren’t as thorough, didn’t include as much detail, and I think that was part of our downfall, so we really focused on adding that extra detail the next year,” said Jamie Trowbridge.

That extra detail and closer focus on the application itself was what the Trowbridges felt made the difference for them in 2022, working at it a little bit each night after dinner.

“Just filling out the paperwork for the first time is getting over a big hurdle,” Mark Trowbridge said. “If you don’t make it the first year, it’s a good learning opportunity and you can just continue to add to it.”

If you’re wondering whether taking that first step to fill out the application is really worth it or not, the Trowbridges had plenty to share about how they benefited from their experiences as winners who went on to compete nationally at American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2023 Annual Meeting. The trip to Puerto Rico gave them the opportunity to make connections they otherwise probably wouldn’t have.

“Over the past year, I’ve met so many different people and grown our network,” Mark said. “We have a lot more contacts now and know more people at events.”

“When you’re at the national conference, you get to meet people all across the country that are there for the same reason you are,” Jamie added. “It’s just great to connect.”

Beyond these connections, the Trowbridges enjoyed being able to share their story and passions in agriculture.

“To get to share and realize what we’ve done, how much we’ve done, and how important it really is to us, I think that was great.”

Mark and Jamie also saw growth in their leadership and presentation skills, and appreciated the opportunity to share their story at the state and national levels.

MFB’s Young Farmer Award applications are due March 1. Applications are available online; applicants are encouraged to compose and save their answers in a separate document, offline, prior to submitting. Find more details on award categories and applications on Michigan Farm Bureau’s website.

Media Contacts
Megan Sprague headshot

Megan Sprague

Young Farmer Programs Specialist
517-679-5658 [email protected]