“I don’t have the time for that,” is a common phrase I hear when encouraging fellow farmers to get involved with professional organizations. There is always an excuse about the busyness of farming and life that seems to trump professional organizations. An excuse is just that – an excuse. I would like to share with you a few reasons why you can’t afford to not be involved with professional organizations.

Winch christina
Dairy Producer / Fennimore, Wisconsin

1. Lifelong learning

Learning never stops. We learn through reading, having conversations with fellow farmers, listening to experts speak and by experiencing things firsthand. How do we get ideas to better our farms if we don’t seek out ideas? By belonging to organizations, you have the opportunity to learn in all these ways. Taking the ideas home, digesting them and then applying them to your personal farm will help keep your operation moving forward.

2. Networking

Ever have a situation on the farm where you wish you had someone you could call to bounce ideas off of? Someone other than your veterinarian or nutritionist? By making connections and friends through your involvement in organizations, you have that person you can call. Those people will be honest and maybe offer some ideas that you didn’t think of. I use my network of people throughout the year to help my students find internships, set up job shadowing opportunities for my son and to serve as guest speakers in my classes.

3. Being a positive example

It saddens me when I see a young adult with potential decide not to seek out more education because they are just going to farm with their parents the same way they have been farming for decades. It’s these farms that struggle with making it through difficult times. By belonging to professional organizations, I am setting a positive example for my children and students. I am sending the message to them that learning never stops, that we are looking towards the future, that I take time to make myself a better person. You can be that positive example too.

Throughout the country, there are all types of professional organizations, ranging from commodity groups to Farm Bureau to peer groups. They come in all sorts of sizes. Just like test-driving a truck, you might have to try a few out before finding a group that is a good fit for you. Yes, belonging takes time, but the future of your farm and of you individually depends on it. So the next time someone asks you to join a professional organization, step out of your comfort zone and say yes. Say yes for yourself, your family and your farm. They will thank you.  end mark

Christina Winch