I spent this weekend at the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference. The event was theme “Your Voice, Our Story” and was helping people see that there is a big picture, shared story of agriculture that we need more farmers and ranchers telling in their voice. It wasn’t the sort of event where anyone was giving someone talking points, but it the kind of thing where farmers were hearing from various perspectives, learning how people are telling their own story and taking bits and pieces from places to make a customized approach that works well for the various people there.
I had a chance to do a little work and a little fun. Some of the fun was catching up with the young farmers I already know through social media. And its become a bit of a tradition for me to take photos & post them…. have to admit, I didn’t do as well this time….. I missed photos of a lot of the folks I saw.
The photos in the slide show get you a bit of a feel for it though maybe…. but I didn’t get to catch most of the Michigan crowd with the camera during the meetings. Guess I was just having too much time goofin off — really the weekend was awesome!
I have to say, spending the weekend with a bunch of folks who have decided farming is the life for them and who have the vast majority of their careers to come was a way to get a real charge! The energy was contagious whether we were listening to a speaker or a country band. The future for agriculture will indeed be bright for U.S. agriculture…. these people are dedicated to making that happen on their family farms and more broadly!
If you want to experience some of the awesomeness these folks bring, you can find quite a few of them online. Here’s some of the folks you can learn about:
- The first tweep for me to meet this weekend was Diana Prichard @diana_prichard. I haven’t read her blog for long but finding it recently, I think she’s got a great perspective to share on Cultivating the Art of Sustenance. She has a CSA with hogs, geese, etc.
- Brian @DiamondMFarms and Samantha McLerran @McLerranMD were there for Tennessee. Sam’s blog pulls together her life in medicine, at home and on the farm with MommyDocFarmer.
- I can’t believe I didn’t have a chance to visit Ashlee Wood (darn it) cause I love her blog Across the Branch. How could I not love it? This Georgia girl writes about my part of the world talking about cotton & watermelons as well as other things that she gets into as a mom & nurse. I did have to shout out a big hey across a session when she stood up to say something and mentioned her name.
- Dana and Wilson Judice are celebrating Mardi Gras in South Louisana tonight. Their blog Hey Hungry People talks about the crops they produce like sugar cane and soybeans they are both on Twitter too at @HeyHungryPeople and @DanaJudice.
- Friends Zach @zjhunn and Anna Hunnicutt @hunnidue from Nebraska grow corn, soybeans and popcorn. Anna blogs on things as varied as teaching toddlers or living the farm life at http://hunnidue.wordpress.com
- I go to see the family dairy farm of Annie & Jerry Link while I was up there and no doubt I have to do some blogging myself on that, but you would be smart to read Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms and follow her Twitter handle @DairyDiscovery that goes with it!
- Sarah Bedgar Wilson tells her story of being a Farmer on a Mission from North Dakota (where I think 1 in 5 people who farm must blog cause I seem to know a higher number of bloggers from the state than I realized lived there two years ago).
- Fellow Missourian Brian Marshall doesn’t have a blog that I know about, but he worked with me on this video post about sustainability efforts on his farm in January!
- Leann & Glen Cope are new neighbors for me though they are from across the state. I had a chance to talk to Leann a bit as we sat in a blogging session. Love that she teaches science! Their blog is http://www.ourfamilyourfarm.com/.
- Jeff VanderWerff is a fruit and grain farmer who’s produced several videos for his YouTube Channel. He posts to his blog Through the Windshield now & then. His Twitter handle is @agsalesman. (And I really hope to see his wife Alyssa online…. I really think she’s got a lot to share!)
- I “met” Carla Wardin across a big room as I talked about telling agriculture’s shared story. Her blog Truth or Dairy has been on my blog list for a long time! Love that she & her husband did a total shift from corporate careers to become dairy farmers!
- Ben LaCross was there of course…. it was his final big event as chairman. He’s a Michigan fruit farmer who shared his family’s recipe for cherry muffins with me . He tweets as @BenLaCross and he’s got a video on apple harvest on YouTube.
- Poppy Davis from the USDA did a great convo on transitioning farms and business decisions I hadn’t thought of. She’s best caught on Twitter at @PoppyDavis