For Angela Hawkinson, the investment her community of Britton, South Dakota, made in her, has had a large impact on her life. She credits Britton with helping shape her into the person that she is today.
"I was raised in my community and now I live in it and have built my life here," explains Hawkinson, who works in human resources and bookkeeping for Full Circle Ag. "This community has given me so much and I'm proud of this place. Now I feel like it's my turn to give back to it and invest in its future like it did in mine."
Get to Know the 2017-2018 Senior Advisory Council Members
Maddie Kline and Taylin Montague were selected to serve on the 2017-2018 Senior Advisory Council during the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention, held in Huron this last December.
In this role, Kline, a freshman at South Dakota State University, and Montague, a senior at New Underwood High School planning to attend Black Hills State University in the spring, will provide advice and act as mentors to the six member Junior Advisory Council.
Below, the youth leaders visit about what they look forward to in this new leadership role and discuss how the personal leadership development and communication skills they developed through Farmers Union educational programming has helped prepare them to be mentors.
What are you most looking forward to in this new leadership role?
Maddie Kline Answers: I’m looking forward to making my last year in camp the best year yet. With my leadership skills and past experience as a member of the Junior Advisory Council (JACs) I will be able to mentor the current JACs through the obstacles of their new roles. I can teach them how to be better leaders and mentors among other campers and how to go about things.
Taylin Montague Answers: I look forward to the opportunity to give back to Farmers Union. Being an influence and role model to upcoming campers is an honor and is something I have always aspired to. To me serving on the Senior Advisory Council means that I am a productive member of Farmers Union, I am an advocate and others see me as a strong leader and role model.
How did Farmers Union prepare you for this mentorship role?
Maddie Kline Answers: In Farmers Union we talk a lot about leadership and cooperation and what that means for youth. We get to learn how to make the most out of our leadership ability while having fun along the way. The skills that Farmers Union has instilled in me helped me throughout high school and now I can take those skills with me to college.
Taylin Montague Answers: Farmers Union has taught me a countless amount of skills and lessons. After being awarded the Bob Janish Memorial Friendship Award I was brought to the realization of how many people see what I do and how I am as a person. Because of Farmers Union I have learned that being a positive influence and someone others can look up to is incredibly rewarding. I have learned that stepping up and taking a leadership role is not scary but an honor.
To learn more about this Farmers Union Education Programs, contact Rachel Haigh-Blume, S.D. Farmers Union Education Director at Rachel@sdfu.org or visit www.sdfu.org.
A group of devoted Farmer's Union campers were recognized for their commitment to community involvement and leadership development with the Torchbearer Award during an awards luncheon hosted at the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Convention held in Huron, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017.
For campers, receiving the Torchbearer Award symbolizes the highest level of achievement for the South Dakota Farmers Union Education Program. This award is given once the camper has reached five years of committed service, showcasing the time and dedication campers have committed over the past years to the education department, as well as the rural communities they have served.
Continuing the tradition of S.D. Farmers Union Camp is often times a priority for youth who are eligible for the Torchbearer Award.
Junior Rural Economics and Leadership (Jr. REAL) is an innovative leadership development program that invests in high school juniors and seniors and presents a comprehensive one-day seminar to students from various high schools in different locations across South Dakota. Student participants engage in hands-on exercises focused on leadership development, credit issues and identity theft, life skills, and motivation.
Jr. REAL aims to mold youth into leaders, starting with civic responsibility and engagement in their own rural communities..
South Dakota Farmers Union is currently accepting applications for participants in the 2018 Rural Economic and Leadership (REAL) Development Program. REAL allows the opportunity to meet people from throughout the state while learning how to motivate yourself and your community toward financial growth, stability, and a positive future.
Sunshine Bible Academy FFA Chapter won today's S.D. Farmers Union Team Up For Safety Quiz Bowl held during the South Dakota State Fair in Huron.
Team members include: Evan Lopez, Shelby Belmore, Andrew Hoffman and Christopher Hass.
The team was recognized with a cash prize.
The Team Up For Safety competition is run in a game-show format and held each year as a fun reminder to teens to keep safety top of mind.
"For most of us in South Dakota, we like to think we're pretty in tune with what's going on around us," says Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. "But life moves pretty fast and it's easy to take little things for granted. It could be something as simple as just taking the time to read labels on chemicals or applications and making sure you don't harm yourself or your livestock."
Along with Sunshine Bible Academy other FFA Chapters to compete included; Tri-Valley, Wolsey/Wessington and Viborg/Hurley. These teams qualified for the quiz bowl during the 2017 State FFA Convention held in Brookings this April.
"You have to have fun with it and you have to learn something," says Tri-Valley FFA member, Levi Burggraff who farms and ranches with his family near Colton and competed on the qualifying team this April. "You need to know what you're doing on a farm, because it's dangerous. You can't be horsing around cattle or machinery. I want to keep things calm...and keep all my limbs."
What is an everyday hero? This was a question considered by campers during the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp as they elected a six-member Junior Advisory Council (JACs).
Before ballots were handed out, campers were asked to discuss what being an everyday hero meant to them and how they could be an everyday hero in the lives of others. During the week-long camp, campers had the opportunity to put their thoughts into action, serving as everyday heroes in the lives of dozens of hungry families by assisting Feeding America. As a team, campers helped pack hundreds of pounds of food to be distributed to families in need.
"This year I really hope that campers take away the importance of being someone's everyday hero," explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "You can have a large impact on your neighbors without having to spend a lot of money. Our time at Feeding America hopefully showed the campers how much you can accomplish together in little time."
Modern technology is essential to today’s agricultural producers, but that same technology sometimes keeps their children from getting outside as much as they should.That’s one thing South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director, Rachel Haigh-Blume keeps in mind when planning camps.
“Everything is so structured now-a-days. It’s really important that kids get to be kids,” says Haigh-Blume. “Anything that promotes play, imagination and outdoors is really important.”
South Dakota Farmers Union hosts around 50 camps across the state each year. But camp’s not all about running and jumping; it’s also about education and introducing youth to the many opportunities that exist within the farming community.
“We have a career focus with fun activities on things like animal care, business and mechanics,” says Haigh-Blume. “We want to get kids thinking about all the skills required on a farm and what talents they can bring back as young producers.”
Wilson Kubwayo’s presentation to S.D. Farmers Union Jr. REAL students at Freeman High School begins with a song he calls "the fun song." But it's not a simple song. And his is not a simple story. Starting the beat with handclaps, he sings a few lines, encourages the crowd to join in, breaks into a rap verse and finishes with some show-stopping dance moves. The audience of juniors and seniors goes wild. Kubwayo's energy is infectious. He is happy. That itself is impressive given his unlikely journey to the United States.
At age 2, Kubwayo and his family fled the small African country of Burundi when it was torn apart by a civil war. They migrated to a refugee camp in Tanzania where Wilson lived until age 13. “Living in that camp taught me lessons no man can teach,” says Kubwayo. “I always thought if I just had an easier life, I would have a good life and then I would be able to do great things.”
Kubwayo calls that mentality a “mind virus,” a negative way of thinking based on one’s experiences and circumstances.