To say the ProFILE graduating class of 2021 enjoyed a unique leadership-honing experience would be an understatement as big as the question we must tackle to begin with: Is it technically the graduating class of 2021? …or 2020?
We have a global pandemic to thank for such ponderings. This class of Young Farmers started their ProFILE journey in 2019 with an expected graduation date of 2020. COVID had something to say about that and this group endured for an additional year of stop-and-start, start-and-stop planning and programming.
“This class certainly had to put up with a lot,” said Emily Reinart, Michigan Farm Bureau’s Grassroots Policy Outreach Specialist and a key player in orchestrating MFB’s marquee leadership-development program. “No one could have predicted that we’d be delayed nearly a year, but they were champions throughout the process and this has been an experience I’m sure they won’t forget.”
That ProFILE experience formally reached its conclusion recently when the class gathered one last time at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo for a celebratory dinner and commencement.
MFB Board Member Brigette Leach was the evening’s featured speaker and reminded the class that leaders aren’t born, rather leadership is a choice and defined by one’s actions.
This ProFILE class kicked off with a visit to the Carhartt headquarters outside Detroit and later took a bus trip to Gettysburg for a hands-on education in history and the role leadership played on the battlefield there. From there it was onto the nation’s capital to participate in the Washington Legislative Seminar and then…
“And then we shut the world down,” laughed Alex Schnabelrauch, director of MFB’s Center for Education and Leadership Development at Michigan Farm Bureau. “We weren’t exactly sure we were even going to get home. But we did and somehow we figured out a way to keep the program moving forward. And that wouldn’t have been possible if this class wasn’t committed to seeing through on their commitment.”
As pandemic-related orders changed and evolved, the class began to reconvene and continue through the program, eventually capping things off with a trip to the Mississippi Delta to learn about agricultural practices and challenges faced by peers in the region.
And now, with graduation behind them, the obvious question is this: What next?
“My hope is that you will now head out and take what you have learned with you,” Leach said. “That you will not only lead but help others to lead as well. Agriculture needs you.”