The 2017 Growing Together Conference (Feb. 15-17) marked a changing of the guard on MFB’s state-level Young Farmer and Promotion & Education committees. The annual turnover of personnel on these two estimable bodies represents a change of season for both, with seasoned leaders stepping away to make way for fresh new minds, ideas and ambitions.
Stepping down from the Young Farmer committee were Rich Baker (St. Joseph County), Nate Clarke (Midland), Chris Heck (Monroe), Gerrit Herrygers (Oceana), Corey Oeschger (Huron) and Chelsea Smith (Missaukee).
Herrygers recommends state-committee service to ambitious Young Farmers looking to amp up their leadership game.
“It’s a great learning experience,” he said. “You really see the inner workings of the organization, across the district and state level. You see how things are being done all over and bring things back to your county.”
That experience, however, comes at a cost prospective committee members should consider: higher involvement and greater responsibilities requires more commitment from those who choose to step up.
“You have to be able to commit the time,” Herrygers said, emphasizing ‘commit’ and ‘time’ with stern hands, but quickly pointing out the return on that investment. “Meeting new people and creating relationships that can benefit you and your farm in the long term makes it well worth the time commitment.”
Herrygers, also current president of the Oceana County Farm Bureau, now looks forward to his next challenge. For him, that means going national: he’ll soon be in D.C. attending his first meeting with an AFBF committee tasked with monitoring pest and invasive species issues.
Stepping onto the state Young Farmer committee are Brady Brown (Sanilac County), Jeff Dreves (Northwest Michigan), Jennifer Holbrook (Mac-Luce-Schoolcraft), Mitch Kline (Kalamazoo), Sonja Lapak (Genesee), Bridget Moore (Osceola), Joe Packard (Washtenaw) and Erika Schunk (Clare).
Two vacancies remain on the committee, representing District 6 (Huron, Lapeer, Macomb, Sanilac, St. Clair and Tuscola counties) and District 10 (Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Huron Shores, Iosco, Ogemaw, Otsego, Presque Isle). Anyone interested in filling a vacancy is encouraged to contact their MFB District Director or Regional Representative.
After years of distinguished service chairing the program—a term that saw the realization of the FARM Science mobile lab and other innovative new feathers in the program’s cap—Isabella County dairy farmer Cathy McCune turns over the P&E chairmanship to Barry County’s Sharon Kokx.
Retiring from the P&E committee were Stacey Lauwers (St. Clair County) Cathy McCune, Jim Spink (Jackson), Dan Stutsman (Cass) and Ellen Vanderwal (Missaukee).
After six years, Vanderwal said she’s
definitely going to miss it.
“I really enjoyed meeting members from across the state—and
across the U.S., because I went to the national Ag in the Classroom Conferences,”
Specifically, Vanderwal found herself working directly with
peers in Tennessee and Colorado, eventually resulting in improved exposure to
ag education opportunities for children in both states.
“It just really helped me make a lot of connections, and we
got new ideas from them as well,” she said. “I would not have met those people or
done those types of things.
“And Farm Bureau people in general are just the best to work
Stepping into those vacancies are Harold Borowicz (Cheboygan County), Marisa Bramer (Gratiot), Jess Erler (Osceola), Tiffany Howell (Lapeer), Brandie Kline (Kalamazoo County), Katelyn Thompson (Eaton) and John Tuckerman (Lenawee).
Two vacancies remain on the committee, representing District 2 (Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties) and District 9 (Benzie-Manistee, Missaukee, Northwest Michigan, and Wexford). Anyone interested in filling a vacancy is encouraged to contact their MFB District Director or Regional Representative.