Two weekends ago my husband and I traveled south to Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals Leadership Experience conference. The focus is on 18-35 year old Ohio Farm Bureau members, which I think is great. Those of us in that age group are the next generation of farmers, and some of us are even first generation farmers just getting started. I think it’s so important to unite and learn together.
My husband was not a first timer at this event, but I was, so I didn’t really know what to expect. In order to prepare myself as much as possible I poured over all of the materials they sent us in advance. Keynote speakers, breakfast, workshops, lunch, door prizes, and a hotel room–sounded good to me!
Soon after throwing our bags into our hotel room, we headed back down to the ballroom for the Welcome General Session and round two of the Discussion Meet between four young ag professionals. The discussion focused mainly on the portrayal of farms to non-farmers, and representation through social media. Shortly after there was entertainment by The Henningsens. As the entertainment ended the farmers made their way to the hotel bar, and when you have over 700 young farmers, you know the bar is going to be packed.
But everyone was still up early for the breakfast and keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive V.P. and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto. Then came four rounds of workshops where we got to choose one workshop in each round. My husband and I ended up sticking together and attending all of the same ones. We attended Learn How to Analyze Your Business Financials (which for anyone who knows my husband knows he does this for a living…but I don’t–so it helped to open my eyes up a little!), The Protection and Practice of Beekeeping, Advancing Your Brand on Social Media (duh!), and Farm Succession Planning (this was also a refresher for us, as the attorneys who presented the workshop actually did our farm succession plan).
We also met a few different couples and got to learn about their farms and practices. I found that it is really nice to talk to other young farmers who are trying to do the same things we are — grow the farm, be more efficient, raise awareness, and just help farming to become better overall.
The Young Ag Professionals Leadership Conference was a great experience and now that I know what it is all about, I hope to take away even more from it next year!