My family has always been members of Dawson County Farm Bureau, and by association, Nebraska Farm Bureau. At one point my father was county vice-president. We always went to the summer picnics and other events.
When I graduated from college I had to get my own membership, partially for insurance purposes. Farm Bureau Insurance is one of the most used benefits of belonging to Farm Bureau. I started attending the county annual meetings with my parents, always a good meals and friends to visit with.
After getting married in 1985 I was nominated for a seat on the county Farm Bureau board. At the meeting I found out I was running against one of my many older cousins. Much to my surprise I was elected and my journey started.
In December, 1985 I attended my first Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, and I haven't missed another since. The first year we went to the banquet, as the county board picked up the tab for all county board members. I remember the packed steamy banquet hall at the Holiday Inn in North Platte, in a blizzard. And all those people. They seemed to all know each other and were quite noisy visiting.
In 1986 I was elected as a voting delegate and I fell in love with Farm Bureau. Here we could debate policy and influence potential legislation. IT WAS FUN! I have always held strong beliefs and was not afraid to share my ideas. I quickly ran into other similar strong believers. Even after arguing with them over silly little points we became friends. Many are still close friends, Naomi, LaDene, Russ and many others.
That year Barb won a Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) Discussion Meet and with it a free trip to California to compete at the American Farm Bureau. WOW! More neat people farming everything you can imagine.
Since those early years Barb & I have served many years in many capacities with Farm Bureau. One of us has been on either the county board or the state board of directors since 1985. I have no ideas how many miles we have driven, trips taken, or nights in hotels since then. But it has all been worth it.
Our girls grew up at Farm Bureau meetings. Until they got into high school they attended at least part of each convention too. Many of our Farm Bureau friends remember them from stroller on. Now our oldest is on a county Farm Bureau board in North Dakota.
Several times I was challenged beyond what I thought I could do and was trusted to do it well. Thanks to Nebraska Farm Bureau presidents Bryce and Keith for pushing me.
This year was a little strange for Barb & I at the state convention. For the first time since 1985 we had no official duties, except for judging the YF&R Discussion Meet. We spent much of our time visiting with old friends we hadn't seen for a year or two or three. We caught up on kids and grandkids (theirs). We talked to many of the politicians and other agricultural leaders who have become good friends over the years.
Last night at the annual banquet we were once again in a large room (not steamy this time) packed with people. But now they are all friends. And I was one of many adding to the noise level. We honored Keith Olson who served 9 years as Nebraska Farm Bureau president and really nurtured me as a young Farm Bureau member.
While Farm Bureau may not be your group, I highly advise all of you employed in production agriculture to join and get involved with at least one agricultural organization. There are too few of us to sit on the sidelines. Like anything else, the more you put in the more you get out.
I advise you to go all in!