Being involved in agriculture and learning new things has always been a passion of mine. Attending the Young Leaders in Agriculture Conference in Owatonna, Minn., sounded like a worthwhile opportunity for me as an agricultural student and a future leader in agriculture.
The three-day event began with Mark Jewell giving a powerful presentation on how to transition from surviving to thriving in any aspect of life. During his time with our group, he noted that the millennial generation will be the most influential in agriculture because of the changes occurring. In 35 years, we will be asking ourselves, “Did we get it right?”
Prior to the conference, we were instructed to take an online assessment that would determine our behavioral type. When the presenters divided the room into the four behavioral styles; dominance, influencing, conscientiousness, and steadiness, the differences were astounding. The value of learning my own behavioral type has already made me more aware of how to identify other’s behaviors and how to communicate more effectively to meet other’s needs.
I met many professionals in the agricultural field during the networking rapid fire and social. I also had the opportunity to connect with many I had met at other events. Agriculture is a small community, so to have a network among established experts and my own peers has proven to be beneficial in many aspects.
The next day, we toured Gardens of Eagan, an organic farm. The tour guide was a great resource to answer our questions and help understand organic farming. I was impressed with the amount of capital that has went into the farm. I learned that it takes three years to become certified organic and although there are many restrictions against standard agricultural products, they are able to fertilize with manure from a conventional dairy farm. It was a different view of agriculture that I feel is important to understand as we advocate to consumers.
Attendees of this conference came from a diverse background. Although we had differing views and opinions, we all were able to take something away from this conference and use it in our personal and professional life.
It is critical for young people involved in agriculture to be involved in leadership conferences. The challenges facing agriculture today calls for stronger leaders more than ever. I know I will be able to use the skills I learned at this conference during my internship with Minnesota Soybean, as a college student and in my future endeavors.
I would encourage anyone to take advantage of opportunities that are available to them. The time it takes will be well worth it.