My husband, John, and I are priviledged to be the Indiana representatives in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Ag Award here at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting.
This award is for Young Farmers and Ranchers who do not make the majority of their income from production agriculture. The Excellence in Ag Award is based on involvement and leadership in agriculture, Farm Bureau and the local community.
We first competed for this award in Indiana before our annual convention in December. We submitted an application that included details about our farm (beef cattle and hay), our off-farm jobs (we are veterinarians in a rural town and I am a blogger), our involvement and leadership roles with Farm Bureau, with other agriculture groups, and with non-agriculture groups. Then we waited.
The top three competitors in Indiana were asked to give a presentation to a panel of judges in Indianapolis. Then we waited. The winners were announced at the Indiana Farm Bureau Annual Meeting early in December and the rush was on to get prepared for the national competition! We submitted another application to the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher coordinator and then we waited.
The first part of the AFBF Annual Meeting in Nashville was the opening session. All the Excellence in Ag competitors were grouped together at the front of the ballroom. We nervously watched the parade of states, and listened to AFBF President Bob Stallman give his “State of Farm Bureau” address. We waited for the announcements of the Top 10 competitors. John and I applauded for and celebrated with the first 9 states who would be competing in the next round of competition… And then we waited…
After what seemed like an extraordinarily long pause…
Our names were called! We had made it to the Top 10 round of competition! What a relief, an honor and a new bout of nervousness to have made it to this level!
We went to our competitor orientation, drew our order for the presentation round of the competition… and learned we would be waiting some more. We would be the 9th presenters, in a group of 10.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the conference, taking in the trade show, going to a breakout session and catching up with old friends. We got up this morning ready and just a little nervous.
We patiently waited our turn (with a little more than our fair share of pacing). We bounced around the room a little bit, psyching ourselves up for the presentation backstage-style, ramping up our energy levels. We gave our presentation to a packed house. A lot of our Indiana delegation came out to support us in this competition and we were so excited to have them there to share this experience with us. We put our hearts, our personalities, and our passions into our presentation. I know our Indiana crew enjoyed it and we can only hope that the judges did, too.
And now, we wait some more. We know we have done our best and we are certainly proud of our accomplishments. Indiana had competitors in the Top 10 for both the Excellence in Ag Award and the Achievement Award, and in the Discussion Meet Sweet 16. We are so thrilled that we all have been able to make Indiana proud.
The announcements of the winners of the Excellence in Ag Award, the Achievement Award nd the Discussion Meet will be announced this afternoon at the closing general session. If you see some young farmers wandering around looking nervous, stop to say hi and give us a few words of encouragement. We’ve worked very hard to reach this level of the competition and we’re waiting for some big announcements.
I can’t talk about these awards without mentioning our sponsors. Without the support of the state Farm Bureaus, none of the Young Farmer competitors would be here. We all owe a huge thank-you to STIHL, Case IH and GM. Thank you for your support!
The application and the presentation? While they both took a lot of work, it now seems like that was the easy part of this competiton. The waiting truly is the hardest part… But we are loving every minute of the anticipation!
alarmclockwars is Marybeth Feutz, DVM, of Indiana. She and her husband, John, have a beef cattle farm and work together in their family’s veterinary practice. She is a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Check out her blogs: AgriCultured — Where People Who Eat Get Their Food Questions Answered (http://www.agricultured.org/) and Alarm Clock Wars (http://www.alarmclockwars.com/). Find her on Twitter (@AlarmClockWars).