On Feb. 3and 4, nearly 700 of Ohio’s young agriculturalists attended Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus.
The Young Ag Professionals (YAP) program is designed for those that share a passion for the farm community, rural living and food safety. This program helps young Farm Bureau members ages 18 to 35 grow personally and professionally through leadership opportunities with the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Keynote speaker and Nationwide Board Chairman and Ohio farmer Tim Corcoran challenged the young agricultural professionals to be engaged in Ohio Farm Bureau and spoke of the many opportunities provided by the state’s largest and most inclusive farm organization.
“In this day and age you need to be confident, and you need to be humble. It’s the support that you give others that comes back to you several fold,” he said. “I challenge all of you to engage in Farm Bureau. Utilize the (social media) tools you have that most of us can’t get our arms around. You are our hope.”
YAP gives the millennial generation the chance to network with industry leaders as well as young farmers and business professionals from Ohio to help broaden their networks. While learning how to make a difference in their own local communities and Farm Bureau, the attendees sat through different workshops, sessions and panel discussions regarding professional development and ag-related issues and topics.
Friday was a quick evening that opened up with a trade show for future employers. Following the trade show was a general welcome session hosted by the YAP board members.
The Discussion Meet round one also took place on Friday night while the second round was on Saturday. This is an opportunity to create a committee meeting to analyze and problem solve for agricultural related issues.
Other keynote speakers also included Tyne Morgan and Ohio Senator Bob Peterson. Morgan, National Reporter for AgDay on RFD-TV, talked about the future of agriculture with the recent election regarding commodity prices, exports and the importance of the Ag community continuing to work together to “harvest the past. Plant the future and continue to defy the odds.”
“We’ve (agriculture) got to be one voice. It’s not about organic, nonorganic. When you start talking to one person and another person and another — that’s when you affect change (and change perceptions),” Morgan said.
Policymakers want to hear from constituents about the issues that matter most to them and how they affect their lives, said Ohio Sen. Bob Peterson.
“We can affect your lives in so many ways and you don’t even know who we are. We are desperate to talk to you,” he said.
Peterson, a past Ohio Farm Bureau president, also spoke about the strength and effectiveness of a large grassroots organization like Farm Bureau, saying “When you run alone you run fast; when you run together you run far.”
“What’s spiking Phosphorus in Ohio?” Chris Eidson from Brookside Laboratories
“Using the Basics: Ag finance to gain farm ownership” Brent Musselman and Joel Oney from Heartland Bank
“Artisan Cheese Making at Home” Abbe Turner, Lucky Penny Farms
“Beyond Time Management” Lindsay Calvery, American Farm Bureau
“Interviewing Tips from a Pro” Cindy Westfall, M-C Farms
“Knowing and Understanding Different Types of Farm Leases” Peggy Hall, OSU Extension
“Creating More Value with the Same Resources” Mike Kasten, Quality Beef by the Numbers
“Beginning tips for CSA” Panel Discussion: Jess Campbell of Carroll Creek Farms, Stephen Kings of Kings Farms Ohio and Jamie Smith of Bluescreek Farm Meats
“Getting to Know Farm Bureau” Lindsay Calvert, American Farm Bureau
“Understanding Personal Finances” Rebecca Stewart, Bob Smith Nationwide Insurance Agency
“Farm Finances 201: How to analyze your business financials” Dakota Everts, Farm Credit Mid America
“New Strategies for Maximizing Cover Crop Profitability” Steve Groff, Cover Crop Coaching
“Direct Marketing: Growing food, profits and community” Lyndsey Teter, Six Buckets Farm
“Federal, State and Local Food Initiatives” Lisa Fugitt Hamler, Ohio Association of Foodbanks
“The Art of Negotiating Job Offers” Adam Lohrey, Wilmington College
“Intro to Grain Marketing” Matt Bennett, Bennett Consulting
“Contract Livestock Feeding: Is it for me” Dale Ricker, OSU Extension
“The Art of Home Winemaking” Russ Stewart, Home winemaker
“How to Start a Local YAP Group” Panel Discussion: Shane Vetter, Becca Kochler, Ashley Weaver, Jessica Clark and Andrea Bayles
“Building your personal brand” Marlene Eick, Herdmark Media
The future of agriculture looks bright with the younger generation taking initiatives to stay in-tune with new innovations, media, technology and regulations regarding the industry while also working diligently to grow as professionals and build a network foundation that will make Ohio agriculture stronger and the farm community closer to help bridge the gap between producers and consumers.