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All in: The importance of membership organizations in agriculture

With spring in the air and tractors in the field, I can feel the summer season right around corner. Year after year, certain things on the farm happen at the same time of the year, over and over again.

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With spring in the air and tractors in the field, I can feel the summer season right around corner. Year after year, certain things on the farm happen at the same time of the year, over and over again.

That got me thinking about the associations we have in our business and the potential friends and colleagues we make throughout the year, and how those connections drive the very motion of agriculture from one season, one year, one decade to the next.

At the end of April, for the third year in a row, my sons had the honor of participating in the State FFA Convention here in Minnesota. My oldest son, involved in livestock judging, walked across the big stage for the career development event awards as the third highest team in the state, and the fourth highest individual. He was so pleased that their hard work as a team paid off.

On the way home from the convention, my farmer husband, my sons and I engaged in a conversation about the connections we make through what we are involved in, versus the investment of time required. Despite his success, my oldest son was contemplating if his investment of time in FFA overall is worth the reward.

Most of us involved in agriculture would probably gasp at the thought that a young farmer would consider not being a member of FFA. However, the conclusion of our 45-minute conversation gave me pause even as an adult about priorities, associations and the importance of why we choose to invest our time and money in certain membership organizations.

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First, my sons will continue their pursuits in FFA, as well as 4-H and their junior cattle association because they recognize the value of the connections and training they gain. They understand the importance of sowing and reaping, and we have tried to teach them the essence of what it means to invest in people first, recognizing that servanthood reaps great reward for all involved in the process.

In the farming profession and agriculture as a whole, we have more than enough opportunity to engage in local, state and national membership organizations working for agriculture. Statistically speaking, many people choose to be members but very few choose to truly engage.

In the process of rearing young adults, I am sometimes faced with taking an internal look at my own life in an effort to continue to set an example for my children.

And that brings me to my point. In agriculture, we no longer have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. We must engage. Our livelihood is at stake, which ultimately means the future of our society is at stake as well.

Now more than ever, we must take ownership of who we are and why we choose the life we choose. Involvement in our membership associations provides us with what we need to feel equipped in the world at large. My children are engaged because they see the value of their investment both personally and for the greater good. The theme of one the keynote speakers at the State FFA Convention was "All In." My question to you today is - what does that mean to you?

Wyatt Lawrence
Wyatt Lawrence

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