It’s not often that I get sent to a farm event where I’m not supposed to come back with a story and an album full of pictures.

It goes hand-in-hand with being an ag reporter and it’s a natural expectation. But this past weekend, in Dublin, Ohio, I spent some time mostly outside that expectation.

I attended the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Ag Professionals Conference — referred to as “YAP.” I took a notebook, just in case, but it was a trip I made to gather ideas, listen to what others had to say and more or less have some fun — while interacting with other ag-career people my age.

My reporter’s ear kept wanting to catch the quotes as I listened to speakers from Ohio State University Extension talk about farm succession and planning for the next generation. And my reporter’s eye kept wanting to grab the camera when I watched the hypnotist, Mike Bishop, put a couple dozen attendees to sleep.

Instead, I kept my hands on my lemonade and my eyes on the people I conversed with. I knew several of them from work — many who I have interviewed and written about. No one had anything negative to say; or if they did, at least they didn’t say it. It’s always on my mind, though, when I’m in the presence of so many people who I’ve written about in some way — taken pictures of their farm or mentioned them online.

Network opportunity

It was a good program in the sense that it allowed young ag professionals to gather and learn, while also networking and socializing. I met people from all parts of the state and from a wide range of industries. We learned about such things as livestock health and care, how to do a better job of eating local foods and how to build positive customer relations.

A handful of people asked me what kind of farming I do. Over lunch, each person at my table took turns telling how many head of livestock he or she kept at their farm, or how many acres they farmed.

Of course, I do not farm, but I told them about the 31,000 copies of farm newspapers we produce, and how I got involved with farm reporting. I grew up on a beef and crop farm in Wayne County, where my grandparents raised cattle, corn, alfalfa, wheat and oats. At 165 acres, it wasn’t a large operation — not then and especially not today.

But, it was enough to teach me the basics of farming — if anything in farming can be called “basic.” I’ve learned over the years that “farming” includes so much — so many different crops, livestock and ways of doing business. And there are countless businesses like the one I’m involved with — that don’t farm, but are employed in the field of farming.

It’s good for us to get together once in a while and talk. Sometimes you just need to sit down the tools of your trade — whether that’s a tractor or a notebook and pencil, and just spend some time in conversation.

That’s what we did this past weekend, and that’s why I’m not writing a story about it!

Get involved

If you’re interested in attending future OFBF Young Ag Professional events, check out the calendar online. You can also ask your local farm bureau office for more information and they should be able to point you in the right direction. They may even be able to link you up with someone who has attended one of these conferences.

P.S. For the record, my own county, Wayne County, sent the most of any Ohio county this year. I’m not bragging, just saying. But I also have to say, for the record, I’m well pleased!

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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