Farm Bureau service delivery pilot project launched

Continuing its “value first” approach, Ohio Farm Bureau has developed a new pilot project in 12 northwest Ohio county Farm Bureaus to test an alternative field staff structure. 

This project follows the 2022 launch of an initial pilot that is testing a new service delivery model in cooperation with eight county Farm Bureaus in northwest Ohio, with a unique combination of staffing and a structure aimed to build membership with more specialized programs and services. 

According to Ohio Farm Bureau Vice President of Membership Paul Lyons, this new pilot project will have very similar goals as the first, but will use a slightly different method. Those goals include leading with the value of Farm Bureau when promoting the organization, creating new approaches to acquire and retain members while designing a more individualized experience for them, and testing a new staff delivery model to meet Ohio Farm Bureau’s overall goals.

“For this new pilot project, the county Farm Bureau structure will remain the same, as will the staff,” Lyons said. “The biggest change will be within the duties of the organization directors, as they will continue to serve as the liaison between the four counties they represent and Ohio Farm Bureau, but will also have a specialty area they will execute in all 12 counties.”

With those additional assignments come promotions for the organization directors involved in this new pilot project.

Samantha Bluhm adds business solutions specialist to her organization director title in Allen, Paulding, Putnam and Van Wert counties. Her new position will include the task of helping members find the potential within their operation, learning from experts and discovering new business opportunities to optimize the profit potential of the farm. These tools include a multitude of services from Farm Bureau partner Nationwide, workforce recruitment and retention, and Ohio Farm Bureau’s Health Benefits Plan, to name a few.

Roy D. Norman has been named senior organization director and policy specialist for Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties. His focus will be providing members opportunities to work with policymakers and community leaders to advance Ohio agriculture and create a favorable business environment.

Jill Smith is now senior organization director and member development specialist for Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties. Her work will now include forming collaborations and building relationships with key agriculture professionals and partners that will keep members ready for the next innovation or issue and provide professional and business growth opportunities.

Much like the first pilot project, these new ideas stem from a feasibility study conducted by Ohio Farm Bureau, as well as focus groups held across the state last year and input from Ohio Farm Bureau’s state board of trustees. All research indicated a need for more specialized member services at the county level.

“Our hope is that within the 12 counties of the new pilot project that we will have a more unified approach to the services our members expect as they evolve and grow,” Lyons said. “This structure will also give members more opportunities to engage with the organization on a whole new level.”

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