From the Field: Award Time Begins Way Before Convention

Dana Fisher, a young farmer from Shenandoah County, won
 the 2013 American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award
at the AFBF Annual Meeting in Nashville. 
From the Field is a bi-monthly column written by Mark Campbell, Farm Bureau Field Services Director for the Central District. He writes about Farm Bureau member benefits and County Farm Bureau activities.

Even though Farm Bureau conventions, state and national, are in the winter months, now is the time for county Farm Bureaus to apply for awards that are presented at those conventions.  I know from experience that any activities that you have conducted within Farm Bureau have had a main purpose to educate the public about agriculture or share your knowledge of Farm Bureau and encourage people to become members.  The awards are a way we can show recognition and appreciation for all of your hard work.  Plus everyone likes to share ideas and learn about new successful activities.
The Best in State Award is presented to one county Farm Bureau that had the best activity in one of four categories.  The categories are membership acquisition, member involvement and/or retention, ag promotion or education aimed at the general public, and government relations.  Winners of this award receive $1,000 in credit to the VFB Company Store, special recognition at the Virginia Farm Bureau (VFB) Convention, and recognition in the Farm Bureau News- January issue.  If your county doesn’t win the Best in State, they can still qualify for best in district, which comes with a $100 credit to the VFB Company Store. 

The Women’s Program also has some awards to recognize outstanding activities.  These awards are presented at the State Women’s Conference in March.  Most of the Young Farmer awards are focused toward individual and family agriculture accomplishments.  But remember, all of these committees fall under the county Farm Bureau structure.  So an activity that a county Farm Bureau women’s committee conducted could qualify for both awards programs.  Ron Saacke, Director of women and Young Farmers Programs and Agriculture in the Classroom, said that the Farm Woman of the Year and VFB Ambassador applications are due by mid October.
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has a neat award that county Farm Bureaus can apply for.  It is called the County Activities of Excellence (CAE).  “The CAE showcases up to 24 of the top county Farm Bureau programs in the nation. These county Farm Bureaus and their award-winning programs serve as models of innovation for local program development, and display the amazing ability of local Farm Bureau volunteers working together to strengthen the lives of rural Americans and build strong, prosperous agricultural communities”.
If selected as a winner, your prize includes showcasing your activity or event in the exhibit hall at the AFBF Convention, four free registrations to the AFBF Convention and a $2,500 stipend to offset travel and exhibition expenses.  Oh, did I mention that the AFBF Convention is in San Antonio, TX?  San Antonio, The River Walk, and the Alamo.  Sound appealing?  We have had some Virginia counties that have won in previous years.  The deadline is August 30th.
I know that I have listed a lot of awards and you are probably thinking it is just too much to keep up with.  Don’t worry.  Your District Field Services Director (DFSD) can assist you and your county Farm Bureau.  We can even help guide you for those awards that have a more individual focus.  Furthermore, these awards are equal opportunity.  You don’t have to be a large county Farm Bureau to win.  I have seen some small county Farm Bureaus with some energetic volunteers do some amazing projects and win at the state and national levels.  So if you have an activity or an individual award that you want to apply for, just let your DFSD know.  We don’t mind reminders either.
Until next time,

Mark

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