What’s more Michigan than Vernors, Henry Ford, Better Made chips or boating on the Great Lakes? The American Farm Bureau Promotion & Education committee learned sugar beets, greenhouses, and agricultural outreach are also prides of the Mitten State during their Sept. 7-10 meeting at the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron.
The national-level P&E committee met in combination with Michigan Farm Bureau’s to share ideas about programming, meeting structure and upcoming outreach initiatives.
“Any opportunity to learn from our national counterparts and network with farmers from across the country strengthens our state-level leadership,” said Nancy Thelen, MFB’s current P&E chair. “Having the chance to share the depth of our programming — especially given our history and experience in this arena — makes this visit even more special.”
In 1987, MFB became the first state Farm Bureau to evolve its longstanding Women’s Program into the broader and more inclusive P&E model, setting a progressive pace for the greater organization as it strove to keep pace with changing times.
The 10-member national Promotion & Education committee meets quarterly to further its mission to equip Farm Bureau members with the skills to help share agriculture’s story. The committee hosts Communicate, Collaborate and Influence workshops at AFBF’s Annual Convention to provide members with training, materials and tactics for reaching consumer audiences. Additionally it hosts workshops at FUSION Conference and biennial Target Trainings focused on the same mission.
In meetings with Michigan’s P&E leaders, the national group shared plans for upcoming convention workshops asking Michigan members to engage at these sessions. Our committee members shared plans for the Voice of Agriculture Conference, P&E Showcase at annual meeting, Cultivate Collaboration webinars for developing county leaders, as well as connections with the Michigan Ag Council and Agriculture in the Classroom initiatives.
During their visit to Michigan, the AFBF Committee visited The Henry Ford to see Ford’s historical soybean innovation laboratory. Both groups embarked on the Huron Lady for a dinner cruise of the St. Clair River, learning about the value of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
The U.S. Border Patrol Agricultural Inspection Unit gave a presentation outlining the challenges in keeping American crops and livestock secure through regulatory enforcement at the Canadian border. To wrap up their visit, our guests visited a St. Clair County sugar beet farm, a greenhouse raising potted plants for wholesale, and the Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center in Macomb County.
“It was an honor to bring the committee to my home state,” said Stacey Lauwers, AFBF P&E Committee chairperson. “Not only is it special to share local agriculture with my fellow committee members, it was a great experience for the AFBF committee to learn about the county- and state-level P&E projects our members here in Michigan are taking on.”
AFBF P&E Committee members represent 10 of 15 states with state-level Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Committees: Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Delaware, and Massachusetts. Washington and South Dakota will soon join the mix.
Michigan’s Promotion & Education committee includes 12 district representatives and three at-large positions: the chair and members representing Ag in the Classroom and the Michigan Ag Council.