MN Soybean leaders tout value of volunteering

George Goblish anticipated his tenure as president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) would be a refreshing professional endeavor.

But he didn’t foresee having a bucket of ice water literally dumped on his head included in the job description.

“Boy, was that cold!” Goblish says, laughing as he recalled his 2014 participation in the viral Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS research. “That’s what you have to do when you’re president of an organization –it’s important to be able to put yourself out there like that. It’s a growing experience.”

Goblish was MSGA president for two years; before that, he served as secretary and vice president. He says it’s best to jump into the deep end of the volunteer pool with both feet, and embrace the unexpected.

“Being on the MSGA board was such a valuable experience,” says Goblish, who is now an American Soybean Association (ASA) director. “You don’t know what you can do until you try it. Ultimately, you can’t do it for other people – you have to do it for yourself.”

Goblish says running for a leadership position forced him to step outside his comfort zone. By the end of his tenure, he was on a first-name basis with prominent politicians.

“I’d never thought about running for office,” the Redwood County farmer says. “After I did, I thought, ‘This is cool.’ I had a say in the direction of our organization, people were listening to what I had to say and I became more comfortable talking in front of people. It was a like a switch was turned on: ‘I can do this.'”

Outgoing Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) chairman Keith Schrader says his term has been marked not just by growth in the agricultural industry, but the friendships and connections he fostered along the way.

“It’s been very rewarding and eye-opening,” Schrader says. “I’ve made friends I’d never would have made any other way. It’s just been energizing; serving as MSR&PC chair has truly expanded my horizons and increased my thought-process.”

Cultivating personal and professional relationships – both on a local and global scale – is a priceless byproduct of serving on agricultural boards, says Lincoln County farmer Joel Schruers, a MSGA director and former DuPont Young Leader.

“The most rewarding thing for me is the friendships, not just in Minnesota, but across the world,” says Schreurs, who’s also Secretary-Treasurer of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “Volunteering for these organizations is like a lot of things in life –you’ll get out of it what you put into it.”

Rochelle Krusemark of Trimont, Minn., is set to begin her second term with MSR&PC. She believes those with a fervor for agriculture shouldn’t hesitate to run for farmer boards.

“If you have a passion for ag and have a leadership skill set, to me the next step is to promote your industry,” says Krusemark, who also serves on the United Soybean Board. “It’s the best way to get more involved and informed as a farmer.”

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