By Kim Vail, Executive Director, Photos by Steven Knudsen
Published November 1, 2016
One year ago in October I began serving as Executive Director for Sonoma County Farm Bureau. At that time I could never have imagined what was in store for the next year. Now looking back over the past twelve months and absorbing everything that has occurred in my professional and personal life, I am convinced there is a higher power in control leading all of us to opportunities and equipping us to face challenges that accompany our decisions and actions. I am thankful for all of the support that I have received from the exceptional staff and leadership of this organization. I am also thoroughly impressed by the commitment and involvement of Farm Bureau members in Sonoma County as evidenced by the respect through which this organization is regarded and the values it upholds in our community.
One of the first major activities I was privileged to participate in a year ago exemplifies Farm Bureau’s commitment to develop leaders who can be a part of communicating the widespread impact farming and ranching has upon the well-being of Sonoma County. Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT) is a program for high school juniors that challenges them to develop their leadership skills, explore potential careers, learn about issues facing our communities, meet the leaders of organizations and learn how to participate effectively.
Again this fall, Sonoma County Farm Bureau partnered with Tomorrow’s Leaders Today to organize five separate days designed to showcase Sonoma County agriculture for these students and the potential career paths that could play a part in their futures. Students apply, interview and are responsible for a tuition fee to be a participant in this program. Other than the agriculture day, which is being co-sponsored by the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, students spend a day exploring six other sectors: human services, criminal justice, health care, government, environment & natural resources, and business & media.
This year, with assistance from Airport Express providing bus transportation, Farm Bureau was able to expand from sponsoring three to five agriculture days for the TLT program. Agriculture days engaged with students from several county high schools focusing on one day with students from the Healdsburg area, one day from the Petaluma area, one day from the West County area and two days with students from the Santa Rosa area. In all, more than one hundred and fifty students learned about many segments of farm production through face-to-face interaction with farmers and ranchers and hands-on experiences.
At the end of each day students were divided into groups and given assignments involving current topics in agriculture. These groups were given time to do quick research, assemble and give presentations about their findings. Our hope is that through these days of exposing students to the diversity of Sonoma County agriculture and how production methods are continually evolving they will gain a clearer understanding of how agriculture is a part of daily life and might be a career path for them.
This valuable experience cannot occur without our members taking time to meet with the students and without the support that has been provided through tax deductible contributions to the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County. Please consider helping us continue and expand these programs through making a contribution to the foundation. Contributions can be made when completing the membership renewal form or online here.