FFA Convention 2015

I have to say that FFA State convention turned out to be a huge success this year in Silverton, Oregon!  While I wasn’t there wearing the most popular blue and gold attire, it was really fun to be involved again with an organization and event that brought back so many great memories.  And brought back a lot of friends, so many people who I haven’t seen in ages were there, mostly as ag teachers and parents of current FFA-ers.

We were able to connect with many students and talk to them about how Young farmers and ranchers creates a unique opportunity to continue with leadership after graduation.  We talked about how we have a few similar competitions, and provide  a great way to keep in touch and network with other young farmers throughout the state and nation.

20150321_092840_resized20150321_094833_resizedOur booth was very popular, probably mostly due to corn hole games and our giveaway of a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner.  That lucky guy was Kurt Norton from Enterprise FFA.  When I handed off his prize today he was so grateful, he said, “I should have bought some lottery tickets because I won my proficiency and a new Kindle…what a lucky day!”

IMG_3187We also had a good time meeting many state degree recipients and serving them up some good apps and great ice cream floats!

20150321_160322_resizedIt took the whole weekend, it was a lot of work, and it was a lot of fun.  Overall I think it all paid off and many of us walking away from convention this year not only feel hopeful for the next generation of farmers coming through the ranks, but also optimistic for a future where FFA continues to provide leaders for Oregon.

20150321_165323_resizedThanks for everyone’s help and organization this weekend….especially Kathy Hadley, Chairman of Young Farmers & Ranchers!  She worked her tail off to make this all happen!!


Young Farmers at the Capital

1654061_10152010058128181_1381924669_nLast week I joined up with 10 other Young Farmers & Ranchers from both Clackamas & Marion county to take some time to visit our state’s capital.  Being a farmer that lives only a few minutes away from Oregon’s Capital I think that many farmers around this area have a unique opportunity to have their story be heard at the legislative level.  And many times that can make a real difference of whether legislation is passed or not.YFR at the OR Capital

So we decided to help “break the ice” a bit,  we were able to get young farmers to come on a more casual basis, no agenda in mind and just chat with legislators and lobbyists to find out what it takes to testify at the capital.  We were hosted by Oregon Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy Katie Fast & Ian Tolleson, a lobbyist for Oregon Farm Bureau.  Legislators who took the time to chat with us included, Sen. Fred Girod, Rep. Brian Clem, Rep. John Davis & Rep. Mike McLane.  We also heard from lobbyist Greg Miller, Beth Patrino & Beth Riley; who all had great tips on how to prepare testimony.  Words of advice included; always have written testimony, but be ready to speak for a shorter period of time, speak from the heart, tell your story, make sure you let them know what this means to you as a farmer!  It was all great advice and I heard over and over again from all those who came that answering the call to come and speak in a hearing will be a lot less scary after visiting this time around.

YFR at OR CapitalI’ve said it many times before how important it is for farmers especially to tell their story, and it was great to hear that reiterated by not only lobbyists who are working for us everyday, but also from legislators who time and time again say how much it means that a farmer takes the time to come let them know what is important for agriculture in Oregon!


Young Farmers & Ranchers 2014

I am not sure how this all worked out this year, but for some reason I seem to find myself more often not on the farm and instead I’m out talking to other farmers from all over.  I promise I will get back to the business of farming soon, this week though I’m at one of my favorite conferences, Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference 2014 in Virginia Beach.

AFBF President Bob Stallman

We have heard from Virginia Secretary of Agriculture all about the important of imports and exports to this country’s agricultural industry.  We have heard how a small town girl who didn’t ever think that she wanted anything to do with farming is now the Executive Secretary for the USDA.  She encouraged us to “Talk about what you do and why you do it…because people just don’t get us farmers.”  Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau gave us a challenge to keep working to tell our story, because we have to connect to a new level of consumer.  A farmer that I met just today from Indiana I think summed it up perfectly, “My grandpa started the farm, my dad turned it into a business, and now it’s my job to protect it.”

I think it’s easy to get burned out on certain activities, even for us bloggers and social media folks.  But this is one of those places that you can come to and get re-energized to get back out there and realize that you’re not alone.  Actually the conference has over 1,000 farmers and ranchers who are under the age of 35.  All of who, even while farming across the entire United States are still facing similar challenges and many ways all speak the same language, see the same challenges on the horizon, or even knocking at our back door.  And we all in some way know that we need to do our part to answer that call from Secretary Harden, “To talk about what we do and why we do it…”


All hands on Deck is the theme this year, and there have been many challenges to make sure that you’re doing your part to be a trusted source for consumers and be willing to tell your story.  So with that before I head off on our last day here in Virginia I want to extend that promise to all my readers.  I want to be a source for you to ask questions or even raise concerns.  I can’t tell you that I know it all when it comes to how our food is raised, but I do have a network of over 1,000 of my farmer and rancher friends who are ready to answer that call.


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