John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Great words to live by and 2019 will be a year of change for your Farm Bureau.
But before sprinting into changes for our new Farm Bureau year, I need to reflect on 2018, lest it becomes a speck in the rearview mirror. Not only are we welcoming in a new calendar year of doing business for our organization, but late December marked my one-year anniversary as the Executive Director at SCFB. It has been a wonderful experience and I must thank Past President Steve Dutton and the entire board for providing an unmatched level of support and encouragement throughout my “training wheels” phase. We had many staff, board leadership and programmatic changes in 2018, and our board members never faltered in offering guidance and direction as we chartered new paths.
Working under Steve’s direction is akin to your first ride on a rollercoaster. You had best sit down, buckle up and get ready for warp speed. The Man is brilliant, enthusiastic and never ceases to have the best interest of our local Farm Bureau in his mind. Steve is a change agent, a door opener and one of the most generous folks I know. No pun intended, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I had the pleasure of knowing Steve’s dad, Warren, and I consider his mother, Gail, one of the most inspiring and kindest people around. Early on, I witnessed how this legacy couple nurtured and grew both their sons, Steve and Joe, into the community-minded, upstanding folks that we get to work with every day. To use one of Steve’s favorite phrases, the Dutton Family is “Kick Ass”.
It is with mixed emotion that we bid farewell to Tito Sasaki as a board member, past president, committee chair and our in-house water guru. I am happy that he and Janet are going to get some time to enjoy each other’s company without Tito’s need to prepare agendas, read water policy or attend a meeting somewhere in the state; but with Tito’s retirement from our board, a vital organizational resource is lost.
Tito must be the most intelligent person I know, but he is ever so humble about his brilliance. He has a knack for being able to meld the complex science of a project into layman policies and best practices that we can all understand and absorb. He has worked diligently for agriculture all over the state and has served as the catalyst between convoluted government policies and common-sense practices.
My Christmas wish from a few weeks ago was that I hope that Tito continues as a champion for California agriculture and doesn’t give up the fight for good water policy that benefits agriculture. Most importantly, I hope Tito has time to take my calls and respond to my emails every now and then when he is not enjoying his “retirement.” His guidance will always be critical to our mission and valued by our organization.
Ringing in 2019, I look forward to working with Jeff Carlton and the rest of the board on our organizational goals for the new year. With Jeff’s years of involvement in California Farm Bureau, particularly in Young Farmers and Ranchers, he has already provided sage-like historical perspectives well beyond his years.
I thank all of you for permitting me to be part of this highly-respected, well-positioned organization. It is the strength of our members and the tenacity of our board leadership that makes the Sonoma County Farm Bureau the success it is.