They say the way to be involved is to say “yes” when an opportunity comes knocking.  That’s how I think it happened four years ago at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in New Orleans. With only two years under my belt as president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB), and no intention of running for the AFBF Board of Directors, an opportunity emerged, and I said yes. The last four years serving on the AFBF Board has been a whirlwind.

The experience of working with fellow farmers and ranchers from all over the United States brought perspective. The idea that there could be a group of people that could be as independent as the members of the WyFB was foreign to me.  After one meeting with this group of leaders I could have sworn I was back in Wyoming.  Whether these leaders were from New York, Florida, Indiana or Nevada, they all were working to promote agriculture.  The history, the family and the passion to keep agriculture viable was represented from every corner of the nation.

Serving on the AFBF Board also brought opportunities to see and visit farms and ranches all over the country.  Farm visits in California, Florida, Alaska, and Pennsylvania were firsthand evidence that working the soil, caring for animals, and producing food are what they love to do.   Like you and me, they worry about not only the future of their farm or ranch but the future of agriculture as a whole. Like you and me, they face issues that impact their ability to grow food and stay in business. They all deal with government regulation, urban sprawl and the continued struggle for help on the farm. They all deal with rising fertilizer or feed costs and turn around to deal with the hailstorm or tornado that sets them back for the growing season or even a generation.

The people I met while serving on the AFBF Board all chose to wake up the next morning and go do the work they love. They are resilient. They remind me of many of Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers. They also make the time to be away from their farms and ranches to make the future of agriculture prosperous. Volunteering and serving in leadership are a part of who they are; it’s a part of who we are in Farm Bureau and agriculture.

It was an honor and a lot of fun.  I’m fortunate the opportunity came my way and happy I said yes.

By Todd Fornstrom, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation President