The Oklahoma Youth Leading Agriculture conference was held at the OKFB home office June 10-12.
The conference is a three-day event hosted by OKFB’s Young Farmers and Ranchers. Participants of the conference were high school seniors selected through an application process. The students selected represent some of Oklahoma’s most promising high school agriculturalists.
OYLA is aimed at not only preparing young people to be future leaders of Farm Bureau, but also of the Oklahoma agriculture industry as a whole, said Holly Carroll, YF&R coordinator.
During the conference, students had the opportunity to take part in discussions with other agriculture leaders like Tom Buchanan, OKFB president, Jayson Lusk, Oklahoma State University professor of agricultural economics, and others about current events in the agricultural sector.
Along with gaining skills to become leaders themselves, each student learned creative methods and techniques to transmit the benefits of agriculture to others.
“We want them to be able to share agriculture with their hometowns,” Carroll said. “We equip them as much as we can with tools to go to their local schools and do something to generate knowledge about agriculture.”
Being proponents of farming, students were given the opportunity to evaluate their stance on issues like GMOs and animal rights through a tour of Whole Foods, and a media interview training session with Dustin Mielke, OKFB director of corporate communications.
“It helped me to be able to see how a consumer thinks, and if you weren’t educated or didn’t come from the production side of things how one might interpret agriculture,” said Grant Wilber, OYLA participant representing Alfalfa County Farm Bureau.
Other trips outside of the OKFB home office included visits to American Plant Product and Service Inc. and The Escape OKC.
It is important to invest in the youth that will one day be the leaders of Oklahoma agriculture and OKFB, and holding events like this can help those future leaders grow and develop, Carroll said.
“I’m interested in the future of agriculture, and part of that is growing leaders that are going to lead the organizations,” said Sarah Gruntmeir, representing Kingfisher County Farm Bureau. “I want to do my part for agriculture and teach more people about our practices.”
2015 OYLA conference participants included: Marisa Burke, Harper County; Braden Egger, Pottawatomie County; Shelby Schulte, Comanche County; Sadie Higgins, Caddo County; Sydney Cannon, McClain County; Lauren Lacy, Oklahoma County; Jaryn Frey, Kingfisher County; Sarah Gruntmeir, Kingfisher County; Lexi Newman, Stephens County; Victoria Chapman, Carter County; Ross Priddy, Johnston County; LeighAnn Alexander, LeFlore County; Chelsea Allen, Rogers County; Grant Wilber, Alfalfa County; Kailee Fitzpatrick, Grady County; Alexis Musshafen, Grady County; and Jill Coats, Seminole County.