John Deere in Moline, Illinois

Last week a group of young farmers headed back to the freezing cold weather to Moline, Illinois to enjoy some good old John Deere hospitality and see where all these green machines that we tend to favor (on our farm at least) get their start.



We were able to tour the Harvester Works Factory, Tractor Works, and Engine Works while on our three day adventure.  While I was there I realized that John Deere isn’t too different from our own farm back here in Oregon, for instance we both are the World Headquarters…

IMG_0693aPhoto outside what they call the “Rusty Palace”IMG_0723Photo of the front of our farm office….the door also reads…

IMG_0722Also another thing we have in common, they employee over 67,000 employees all over the world.  We employee 4 employees, who all love to travel all over the world!  Wow what similarities!  But in all seriousness I do have to say that John Deere started out in 1837 as just that, a family company.  And in many ways they are still holding true to core family values, even as such a large company that builds equipment for so many industries.

IMG_0709I was impressed by the thought to the future of prodcution.  It was something that was mentioned everywhere we went.  How do we feed the world in the safest and most prodcutive way possible?  They had displays with research showing what they were tracking and what they cared about.  A lot of is as you can see in the pictures below go over how to reduce our use of natural resources, and how do we continue to use technology to our hungry populations advantage.

IMG_0711 IMG_0712 IMG_0714 IMG_0715Another subject that was continuously seen was John Deere’s commitment to be always be linked to the land.  Linked to those farmers who are using their products, relying on their products, and then going out and feeding the world.  Throughout their headquarters even they had artwork that displayed just that message, like the mural below depicts.  It all started with some dirt, a plow sheer, and an idea of how something could be done just a little bit better.


I don’t have any photos of the actual manufacturing being done, they didn’t allow for photos to be taken while in the factories.  I will say though that the level of efficiency and production was truly incredible.  And if you ever find yourself back in Iowa or Illinois I would take the time to check out what is happening in those small little towns with such large factories.


IMG_0689Also I wanted to extend a big thank you to Pape Machinery & John Deere for hosting such a great event.

More than Just Leadership at YFR Conference

Well as some of you may know I like to stay a little…well pretty…actually honestly VERY involved in many different aspects of agriculture. Beyond the obvious of being a farmer, this would include things like agvocacy, leadership, politics, etc. So this past week I have had the chance to head down to sunny Phoenix, AZ (tough life I know) to attend the annual Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference. It’s been a great experience as always, this marks my fourth trip to this conference, attending other places like Oklahoma City, Rapid City and Orlando.

2013-02-10_16-36-44_27I know you’re all feeling super sorry for me now…PALM TREES!!

I’ve been asking myself for awhile now if all this leadership work is “worth it”, wondering if the sacrifices I make that don’t always put my family and my farm as number one on my list of priorities truly make a big enough difference to others. It’s a tough call and one that I realize after spending 5 days away from home and talking to others here, I’m not alone with those concerns. Today especially when I attended a workshop by Dr. Bernie Erven, I think I started to get some clarity as to what I was facing. Now with most things in life the answer today will never be the same answer tomorrow as changes are always thrown your way, but just for today I do feel like I have received a bit of clarity in this mess of leadership, family, & work balance.

Dr. Bernie on one hand reaffirmed that I’m not alone in this struggle, he said that most people in that room had 3 roles in their lives, “The family role, the business role and the personal role.” And all those three hats had to worn at different times, known when to take one off and throw on another, and also how to be the person you should be in each situation. I realized that many times, we forget to switch roles and we don’t always give enough time to each role that we all play. And on the other hand I was hoping he would give me the 2min answer to all my questions. Instead he said that there are no easy answers and all answers for all people are different. But, “if you start with respect, from there you can gain understanding, and from that you can make a strategy of how to work together!”

2013-02-07_16-11-47_139Cotton field, right next to Cardinal Stadium!  Talk about stressful “in town” farming!

As I sit here today in the sunny Phoenix weather, wishing that I could have it all, be involved in it all, fight all the good fights, I also realize that as inspired as I am by many opportunities, it’s tough to really evaluate how these decisions and commitments will affect all three hats you wear for your life. But I believe in what Bernie said, and I think I know where to start the conversation now. I know that there isn’t an easy answer, and maybe I just need to be reminded of that at times. And at times there may be sacrifice from different areas, but there is always something to work on, something to learn and something to work towards whether it’ while wearing your work hat, family hat or personal one. And looking back I think that this has been one of the best things I’ve gotten from Farm Bureau. It’s not just an organization that you find great friends, or learn more about politics and how to speak to the public, it’s also a place where you find people who are going through your same struggles. And with a family business as deeply rooted as agriculture those struggles between family, business and personal can be lines that are very blurry!

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