Three South Dakota teens were elected to the National Farmers Union (NFU) National Youth Advisory Council during the 82nd annual NFU All-States Leadership Camp held in Bailey, Colorado.
"Serving on this council is a great opportunity for me to continue to grow as a person and a leader," said Canistota High School senior, Caleb Nugteren, 17.
Youth members of South Dakota Farmers Union, Nugteren, Jim Brockel, Shadehill and Justin Goetz, Selby, were elected to serve a one-year term on the National Youth Advisory Council by their peers from across the nation during the week-long leadership camp. During their year of service they will represent thousands of Farmers Union youth from across the nation at the 2019 NFU National Convention, in Washington D.C., and the team will be actively involved in the planning of the 2019 All-States Camp.
"NYAC builds leaders in the agriculture industry and ensures the voice of younger generations is heard and respected in what the organization does," says Roger Johnson, NFU President. "Over the course of the next year, these six youths will serve as representatives of their peers, learn about the legislative process and lobbying, and present in front of hundreds of NFU members and press at the NFU convention. I'm confident they will be strong advocates for both the organization and young people in agriculture."
Advocating for agriculture is a task Brockel is eager to participate in. A graduate of Bison High School, Brockel grew up working on his family's ranch.
"The strength of agriculture impacts me, my neighbors and my community. I'm eager to share my story with Congressional leaders in D.C. and hear what other Farmers Union members have to say during policy discussions at National Convention," says Brockel, who will be attending the University of South Dakota this fall.
As members of the National Youth Advisory Council, these South Dakota youth will also serve as role models to the many youth across the nation who participate in Farmers Union youth programming. Serving as a mentor is not a new role for Goetz, a Selby Area High School senior.
"I like to help others," explains Goetz, who currently serves on the SDFU Junior Advisory Council, the team which plans Farmers Union annual state leadership camp. "Encouraging and motivating others to do better is something I work to do."
All three youth have been actively involved in SDFU youth programming for a number of years and say the leadership skills they developed through the annual State Leadership Camp helped them achieve this new service role.
"Attending Farmers Union Leadership Camp really pushed me to step outside my comfort zone," explains Nugteren. "I am not typically a person who enjoys speaking in front of people, but because of the experience I have gained over the years, I now enjoy meeting new people and feel comfortable public speaking."
The South Dakota teens will serve with youth from North Dakota, Riley Lebahn; Minnesota, Jade Person; and Wisconsin, Camryn Billen.
Farm safety is not a topic to take lightly, explains high school junior, Peter Rausch.
"I know from firsthand experience how dangerous working on a farm can be. I lost a friend to a farm accident," says Rausch, who holds his OSHA certification thanks to a course he took as part of his high school's Agriculture Education class. "It is always good to be aware of your surroundings and be as safe as you can for yourself and others."
Rausch, a member of the Hoven FFA Chapter, was among more than 80 FFA members who participated in the S.D. Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl during the 2018 S.D. State FFA Convention held in Brookings, April 14-16.
Hoven FFA Chapter quiz bowl team is one of four that qualified to compete in the championship quiz bowl which will be held at the 2018 South Dakota State Fair during Farmers Union Day.
The other teams who qualified include the following FFA chapters: Parker FFA, Tri-Valley FFA and Wessington Springs.
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.