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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Young Farmer Awards: Just applying is a leadership boost

Ogemaw County shepherdess Elaine Palm found a leadership boost just in applying for the 2023 Young Agriculture Leader Award. And winning it didn’t hurt!
Date Posted: February 15, 2024

Leadership in agriculture is built on a foundation of community involvement. Becoming a strong leader requires commitment to building a great network. 2023 Young Agriculture Leader Award winner Elaine Palm knows this well.

“The award process really helped me go all in,” Palm said. “I was really involved to begin with, but knowing that I wanted to be involved in the award process helped me set absolute goals: attending conferences and being involved.”

The Young Agriculture Leader Award is a symbol of success, but the application process is what solidifies its value. Looking back, Elaine claims it was the process of applying that benefited her the most.

“Involvement helps to amplify our application. Attending these events and conferences really helped me build confidence in my skills, and grew my network significantly,” she said. “These farmers have the same abilities as others, and I have those same abilities, but this application process really pushed me to stretch my limits as a leader. 

“By having the goal of ‘I’m going to fill out the application next year,’ I set about making my application better, which led me to improve as a leader through my involvement in the Farm Bureau community.”

Agricultural leadership takes many different forms. Whether you work in the field or write from an office, there are opportunities for you to take initiative and foster leadership in the culture. 

Palm believes that is a matter of initiative.

“Within the FB culture we have an idea that to be involved it is good to be a part of the committee structure, or the county board, or another sort of board — that you have to formally get in the action. 

“I’m of the philosophy that if you volunteer in any capacity you have a place in the culture. Even if it is micro-volunteering, you have a place.”

Palm helps run Great Lakes Lamb, a family sheep operation started in 1988. She manages 400 head for meat, wool and breeding stock, as well as forage production and distribution for nearby horse and cattle farms. Her commitment to agriculture extends beyond the farm and includes previous involvement in 4-H and FFA, interning for Farm Bureau, earning her degree in agriculture and natural resources communications, and eventually working for American Farm Bureau.

“It is tough to come from an office culture. It is a challenge in mindset and it is a challenge just generally, because it can sometimes feel isolating. Farm Bureau helps me overcome those challenges by giving me a network where I can still feel connected.”

Click here to apply online for MFB’s 2024 Young Agriculture Leader award; applications are due March 6.

Noah Hansen is an intern with MFB’s Field Operations Division. 

Megan Sprague headshot

Megan Sprague

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