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Champions of Excellence winners embody county Farm Bureau dedication, invention

Its early-summer “Farming Fiesta” appreciation day strove to recognize two vital segments of Emmet County’s farm community: current-day guestworkers and legacy Farm Bureau members aged 90+.
Date Posted: September 14, 2022

A who’s-who roster of Michigan’s county Farm Bureaus have earned 2022 Champions of Excellence Awards. Designed to acknowledge county Farm Bureaus’ efforts in advocating for agriculture and engaging members, MFB’s annual Champions of Excellence recognition is awarded annually in two categories, Involvement and Grassroots.

Involvement

Involvement-category recognition is determined from member-involvement data logged and tracked in MFB’s membership database. This year’s Involvement winners are:

  • District 1 – Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau
  • District 2 – Hillsdale County Farm Bureau
  • District 3 – Oakland County Farm Bureau
  • District 4 – Kent County Farm Bureau
  • District 5 – Shiawassee County Farm Bureau
  • District 6 – Huron County Farm Bureau
  • District 7 – Osceola County Farm Bureau
  • District 8 – Saginaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 9 – Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10 – Huron Shores Farm Bureau
  • District 11 – Charlevoix County Farm Bureau
  • District 12 – Menominee Farm Bureau

Grassroots

Almost 40 applications from 29 county Farm Bureaus were weighed against one another, with these district winners earning Grassroots-category awards for outstanding member-involvement activities:

  • District 1 – Van Buren County Farm Bureau
  • District 2 – Hillsdale County Farm Bureau
  • District 3 – Washtenaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 4 – Ionia County Farm Bureau
  • District 5 – Genesee County Farm Bureau
  • District 6 – Lapeer County Farm Bureau
  • District 7 – Oceana County Farm Bureau
  • District 8 – Gratiot County Farm Bureau
  • District 9 – Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10 – Arenac County Farm Bureau
  • District 11 – Emmet County Farm Bureau
  • District 12 – Copper Country County Farm Bureau

Let’s take a closer look at what some of these county Farm Bureaus accomplished…

Arenac

Early last December, Arenac County Young Farmers’ Christmas for Kids combined a community service program focused on ag literacy with a fundraising dinner benefitting local families in need. The huge turnout amassed a $1,000 donation to Christmas for Kids, plus more than 50 farm-friendly toys and books for foster children countywide.

The focus on giving back locally resonated with members: putting ag-accurate resources in schools and libraries, and providing for their community’s own needy children.

Other payoffs included raising the county Farm Bureau’s profile in the eyes of community members and spurring engagement among more than two dozen previously uninvolved members.

Copper Country

Copper Country Farm Bureau coordinated an on-farm membership event with a vital educational component: safe livestock handling.

Specifically targeting farm youth from across the westernmost Upper Peninsula, the event aimed to boost their skills with livestock species and raise funds for more young-Yooper programming.

A mixed audience of both Farm Bureau members and non-members benefited from the training. Almost 70 livestock producers participated, which included a benefit auction that raised more than $5,000 for future regional ag-education programs.

Event coordinators promoted the event through personal contacts and working with local media outlets.

Emmet

Emmet County Farm Bureau’s Farming Fiesta Appreciation Day was featured in Farm Gate earlier this year by way of this article from one of its key coordinators, Ben Blaho. Check it out here.

Genesee

Genesee County Farm Bureau worked with first responders to offer members a grain-bin safety training, and donated specialized rescue equipment to emergency services departments in townships with the most grain bin.

Training focused on both first responders and those members most likely to face an entrapment scenario. Other content addressed theft, fire prevention and chemical and pesticide application.

To maximize its impact, the event was open to anyone interested, regardless of their membership status or county of residence. More than 50 took part, and non-members were added to the county Farm Bureau’s prospect list. One new Young Farmer member was written on site!

Genesee’s Promotion & Education team organized the event, choosing the topics, venue, promotion, speakers, guests (sheriff, fire chiefs, etc.) and provided refreshments.

First responders took home heightened awareness of Farm Bureau and the local ag community. Member participants earned two RUP credits and built closer relations between the local farm and rescue communities.

Gratiot

Last year’s harvest season saw Gratiot County Young Farmers perfect their Feed-a-Farmer campaign, a pandemic-sparked outreach effort to simply give back to the county’s hardest-working members.

With financial support from two local Farm Bureau Insurance agents, members not directly engaged in harvest delivered packaged meals to those who were, including their hired crews, right there in the field.

Keying in on harvest workers’ ‘essential’ status, the campaign aimed to recognize their vital role getting crops in during an unprecedented pandemic that raised concerns about the integrity of the global food supply.

It also functioned as a recruiting event, reaching many farm employees who may not have otherwise been contacted with information about what Farm Bureau membership offers — straight from the hearts of current, active members. In the end, four new members were written and the bond between the county Farm Bureau and its local agents grew stronger than ever.

Members on both sides of the gesture — delivering and receiving alike — appreciated the reversal of Farm Bureau’s customary member-attends-event scheme. Approximately 40 active members delivered more than 50 fieldside meals, enriched with a thank-you to the contributing agents and promotional membership information.

Organizers took an intentionally multigenerational approach, which yielded an unexpected silver lining: engaging long-inactive members.

Taking to heart MFB Policy #101 (Membership and Farm Bureau Programs) — specifically the support for “Engaging, growing and maintaining membership” — Gratiot County’s Young Farmers found strengthening their county Farm Bureau was as simple as delivering its benefits straight to its hard-working members.

Click here to learn more about the original Feed-a-Farmer from its creators, Gratiot’s Young Farmer co-chairs Kera Howell and Tricia McDonald.

Look for more Champions of Excellence summaries in forthcoming issue of Farm Gate.

 

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