2020 Reflections

Written By: Executive Director Tawny Tesconi
Published: December 2, 2020

We are in the last 31 days of 2020 and I am sure most of us are looking forward to the new year. But with the end of this year, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau adds another successful presidential term into the history books. As you may know, our officer team tends to serve in their position for two years and as we transition, I thank Jeff Carlton for his two years of service as our board leader and welcome Jennifer Beretta to the post.

As a relatively new executive director to this wonderful organization, Jeff is the first full-term president that I have had the pleasure to work with. My first year with SCFB was the final year of President Steve Dutton’s reign as our board leader. For me, the first twelve months with the organization was a time of learning, reorganization, and relationship building. I appreciate being mentored and guided by Steve during my maiden year. Steve’s passion for innovation and change allowed our organization to challenge tradition, embrace new ideas, and take risks.

If I were asked to describe the two years that our organization experienced with Jeff Carlton as our board president, I would say that it was a period of planning, strategizing, and prioritizing. In the summer of 2019, our board crafted a 5 Year Roadmap that defined our primary pillars of service and established attainable goals within each of those service areas. Under Jeff’s leadership, we have spent the last 18 months honing-in on our effort to meet these goals.

The five key themes of the SCFB Roadmap included a focus on: increasing visibility, shifting from reactive to proactive, shifting from telling facts to telling stories, representing broad agriculture, and collaborating more with stakeholders within and outside agriculture.

With President Carlton at the helm, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau was successful in achieving many of the goals set as first-year priorities during our planning process. As reported in the Press Democrat, SCFB’s effort to be more involved in state and local propositions not only increased our visibility but made us more proactive and increased our collaboration with several local business organizations. Sonoma County Farm Bureau members were diligent in their endeavor to successfully defeat Proposition 15 and our local campaign was recognized statewide by other agriculture interests and organizations.

Even during these abnormal times, your SCFB, led by Brytann Busick has increased our social media and digital presence immensely. We started the year with a consumer outreach campaign focused on cattle production that was supported by the California Cattle Council. Ads featuring our local dairy and beef cattle producers were displayed on the Rohnert Park electronic billboard that played to hundreds of thousands of people traveling Highway 101. And we told more stories throughout the year with Facebook and Instagram posts.

During the summer, we had two amazing interns working with us in our effort to promote and showcase our farmers and ranchers. Avery Essick a senior at Boise State University and Gillian Rhoads-Albert a CSU Chico student teamed up and completed a communication project focused on telling our members’ stories. They visited over 25 properties, interviewed farmers and ranchers, and edited hours of video that is being showcased year-round on our Facebook page. Many of these interviews are being used to inform stories in the Sonoma Marin Farm News and to educate reporters and other media inquiries.

This excellent work could not happen without financial resources and we were fortunate to have one of our most successful crab feeds in our 30-year history this year. We got our flagship event across the finish line in February before the Pandemic, thank goodness! This amazing feat and extremely beneficial fundraiser could not have happened without the dedication and focus on detail of Samantha Piehoff. Her management of all our fundraising activities, scholarship and granting activities, and day to day business operations has kept SCFB forging ahead and breaking new ground.

Your SCFB Board is doing great work and I cannot thank Jeff Carlton enough for being the leader of the pack. His knowledge of Farm Bureau, love for agriculture, and passion for responsible government has allowed our organization to flourish during unprecedented times of business failures and economic uncertainty. This year, we have earned back our title as the County’s “Voice of Agriculture” and has put us in the running for County of the Year within the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Although 2020 is coming to end, SCFB’s advocacy for our local agriculture stakeholders will continue to grow under the leadership of Jennifer Beretta and her fellow board members. With the three members added in the last few months, for the first time in years, SCFB has every available board seat filled. The board makeup mirrors the diverse ag business sectors that make Sonoma County the world-renowned ag mecca that we are proud to be part of.

Jeff, thank you for your dedication, hours of service, and uplifting leadership style. On behalf of all our local farmers, ranchers, and consumers, I express my sincere appreciation for all that you did during your two years as President of our organization. I only wish we could be celebrating these successes surrounded by friends and breaking bread at our traditional annual dinner!

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