Since I started this blog series to get more use out of my camera, it makes perfect Gracey sense that the second post would only feature photos from my phone. Oh well! Busy weeks like this mean I’m not always carrying my heavy camera around. Sometimes it’s not about taking a million pictures. It’s about being completely immersed in the moment. Luckily I do have a few snaps to share.
We started out the week processing a few more piglets. After posting pictures to Snapchat and the blog, I ended up with a lot of questions. Most of those questions centered around the welfare of the animals. It’s hard to show how quick and painless the process is for the piglets, so William and I put together a little video. The initial plan was for William to just share it with his Intro to Ag students, but I was pretty excited to be able to share it with my followers as well. You can check out the video on YouTube here. As always, if you still have questions, feel free to let me know!
But even though working with little piglets is usually the highlight of my week, I have to admit attending the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Conference this weekend was by far my favorite. This was William’s and my third year attending the conference, and it just gets better and better every year. Illinois Farm Bureau continues to produce some amazing Young Leaders, and it’s so cool to be surrounded by nearly 500 other members at this annual conference.
The conference kicked off Friday evening with a cocktail hour and Dueling Pianos. As I’ve continued to get more involved in Farm Bureau I’ve met so many new people, and Friday night gives us all a chance to meet up with friends we haven’t seen in awhile.
But Oh. My. Gosh. I nerded out big time on Friday night.
About a week ago, I read that Cristen Clark, blogger and my favorite Snapchatter, would be speaking at the conference. I’m really not kidding when I say that I nerded out the minute I saw her Friday night. I felt like I was meeting my favorite celebrity.
Cristen is the nicest, most down to Earth person I have ever met, and she’s a huge inspiration to me. She’s kind of an accidental agvocate, but she’s darn good at it. I had the opportunity to talk to her for a little bit Friday night, and attend two of her sessions on Saturday. Go check out her blog, Food & Swine, and follow her on Snapchat (CristenCClark)! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
After lots of fun and friends on Friday night, it was time to get serious on Saturday. The IFB Young Leader committee works hard all year long to prepare some awesome meetings and sessions for us, and I know our local Young Leaders have some great new ideas to bring back and implement in our county.
We started the morning with breakfast and a market outlook with Market to Market’s Mike Pearson. Farming is a pretty high risk investment, so it was refreshing to hear Mike’s humor and optimism as he presented his slides on the various commodity markets. Then I was able to attend two break out sessions: “Farm Meals,” with Cristen Clark, and “Barnstorm: Building Your Farm’s Brand,” with Karen Pfautsch. Cristen’s breakout gave me some new ideas for switching up the meals we make at home, especially during planting and harvest when things get a little crazy. Karen’s breakout really got me thinking about how William and I farm, and more importantly, how others perceive how we farm. This was especially important to me since I am always sharing little snapshots of the farm on social media for anyone to see.
At lunch we heard from IFB’s Vice President David Erickson. I’ve been to my fair share of conferences, and I’ve listened to probably a hundred speakers, but not many compare to Vice President Erickson. He is so polished and never stumbles over a word. My favorite quote of the day was when he told us, “You’re not just the future of Illinois Farm Bureau. You are Illinois Farm Bureau.” In an organization dominated by an established, highly traditional membership, it’s so inspirational to be reminded that we aren’t just preparing to be leaders. We already are.
In the afternoon I attended two more breakouts. I sat in on “How to Conduct a County Harvest Dinner,” presented by Knox County members, and “Social Media on the Farm,” with Cristen Clark. We haven’t discussed conducting a Harvest Dinner in Bureau County, but it was great to hear the planning and implementation of the Knox program, and it’s something I would love to kick off in our own community. Cristen’s social media breakout was a great way for me to consider how I’m already using my platforms and what I could do better. My greatest take away was to continue to diversify my posts. After all, my life isn’t only comprised of piglet snuggles! (I wish!)
We all gathered back together for dinner and to listen to one final speaker, comedian Jerry Carrol. After a long day of awesome breakouts, it was fun to listen and laugh along as Jerry spoke humorously about agricultural issues.
Overall, it was such a great conference that did not disappoint. It is incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by so many other Young Leaders with the same goals. Not only do we get to learn and grow as leaders, but we continue to network and build friendships. I am so proud to be a part of the Illinois Farm Bureau, and so excited for all the opportunities ahead of me!