YF&R: New, revived committees expand reach of YF&R

Issue Date: February 26, 2020
By Christine Souza
Members of the Napa County Young Farmers and Ranchers take part in the group’s annual barn dance in St. Helena that last fall netted over $7,000 for the Aldo Delfino Scholarship Foundation.Fundraising is one of the many activities for members of county YF&R committees.
Photo/Dan Rorabaugh
Members of the newly formed Mendocino County YF&R tour Scully Packing in Finley.
Provided by Mendocino County YF&R
Collegiate members of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Club at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria tour the state Capitol in Sacramento last spring. The group, joined by Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau Executive Director Teri Bontrager, far right, was formed in 2018 in collaboration with the county Farm Bureau.
Courtesy of the Allan Hancock College YF&R Club
Cory Broad, Fresno-Madera YF&R co-chair, says “anyone involved in agriculture even to the slightest degree should join our YF&R program.”
Courtesy Cory Broad

From ranchers and tree crop growers to winemakers, bankers and those working in agricultural technology, the next leaders of California agriculture are taking part in the California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers program in counties across the state. In recent years, a number of county Farm Bureaus have either formed new county YF&R groups or revived programs that had disbanded.

For active agriculturists between the ages of 18 and 35, the YF&R program offers leadership training, political advocacy and networking opportunities, and provides ways for individuals to support agriculture and the local community through fundraisers and events.

"As part of a program for future leaders in agriculture and in Farm Bureau, YF&R participants take advantage of professional development activities and support each other," said Stephanie Younger, CFBF YF&R program director. "There is so much enthusiasm in the newly formed and revived county YF&R committees, and we are excited to see the YF&R program grow."

The Fresno-Madera YF&R Committee, formed two years ago by the Farm Bureaus in Fresno and Madera counties, has a group of 30 active members. Group activities included an educational water tour, meeting with government representatives and a toy drive for charity.

"I have always believed that when a group of people come together and give their time, talent and treasure, the outcome will be contagious," Fresno-Madera YF&R co-chair Nick Rocca said. "The reason you should be a part of any YF&R group starts with the understanding that one voice can never have the same impact as many."

Rocca said the goals of Fresno-Madera YF&R include creating a contagious environment that draws people in through community involvement and leadership development; giving back to the community through volunteering and student support; and creating a self-sustaining YF&R program.

The Napa County Farm Bureau revived its YF&R program last June. The group has 20-plus active members who take part in leadership, community service and fundraising activities, such as a barn dance that earned about $7,000 in scholarship funding.

"Our membership has multi-generational ranching families rooted in Napa, some of us from other California farming communities; many of us are transplants seeking edification in crop science and viticulture, and all of us would love to call this valley home," Napa County YF&R Chair Julian Clymer said. "Our chapter has been working hard, strengthening the relationship between our parent Napa County Farm Bureau organization, building an avenue for participation and collaborative fundraising."

Mendocino County YF&R is a new program that started early last year, said YF&R chair Whitney Vau-Seckora, who added, "We have around 15 people in attendance for meetings and farm tours, which is a great turnout for a young chapter in a small community."

Mendocino County YF&R has taken part in farm tours at Scully Packing and Graziano Winery, and won first place with its booth at the Redwood Empire Fair.

"We partnered with a local jewelry artist to create bracelets that read, 'Support Your Local Farmer/Rancher' that come with a custom YF&R logo stamp," Vau-Seckora said, adding that 20% of proceeds from the bracelets go back to the YF&R committee.

Students at Allan Hancock College in Santa Barbara County collaborated with the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau in 2018 to form the Allan Hancock College/Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Club. Starting with only eight members, the club has grown to about 30 active participants.

"Young Farmers & Ranchers has strengthened my passion for agriculture and helped me further develop my leadership and communication skills," said Kathleen Merrill, YF&R club treasurer from Los Alamos. "YF&R has allowed me to make connections with industry leaders and gain a greater understanding of how our legislative system works."

In addition to providing outreach and education at events, the YF&R club developed and sold "Keep Ag Alive in the 805" bumper stickers to support local agriculture. The group also raised money to travel to Sacramento, which included an agriculture tour and visit to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to meet with state Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

People interested in YF&R can contact the local county Farm Bureau office. If a committee has not been appointed in the county, ask the county Farm Bureau office how to start one.

For more information, contact YF&R Program Coordinator Younger at 800-698-3276 or yfr@cfbf.com.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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