NORFOLK, NE - Membership in Northeast Community College’s Collegiate Farm Bureau organization is an avenue for students to be “ag-vocates,” championing the agricultural industry on and off campus.
Recruitment is underway with the opening recently of the 2018-19 academic year at the Norfolk-based college. The past school year saw about 25 student members involved in the Nebraska Farm Bureau-sponsored organization.
“These students really know the need to advocate for agriculture,” said Bob Noonan, a diversified agricultural instructor at Northeast, who is the organization’s advisor. “They understand the need to delve in and communicate with others.”
The members tackle such topics as food safety and quality, he said.
According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau website, “Collegiate Farm Bureau (CFB) is a student organization dedicated to serving as ‘The Voice of Agriculture’ on college campuses across Nebraska through a variety of education, service and advocacy efforts. CFB offers opportunities for students in leadership and citizenship engagement, career development, service learning and professional networking.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau’s student program (for those aged 16-23) officially began in 2014, said Phil Erdman, president of membership for the state organization.
“Our collegiate chapters began at a similar time as a logical outgrowth of the students who had become members to further their leadership development,” he said.
The 2018-19 school year will mark the fourth year for the Collegiate Farm Bureau on the Norfolk campus. During the debut year, Noonan said, “We had such a great group of students. It was very successful.”
The success has continued.
In fall 2015, Noonan said the members were involved in drafting state legislation, working with the Madison County Farm Bureau and the state Farm Bureau’s Legislative Committee.
“This was such an amazing learning opportunity for the students on how to actively participate in the legislative process,” he said.
An Ag Advocacy Day was conducted in spring 2016, and included booths and demonstrations on the safety of U.S. food. A similar event was hosted the following spring, with a focus on food production.
Last fall, the chapter conducted a Cover Crop Field Day for the public at the college farm. The featured crops were radishes, cereal rye, turnips and oats, with students among the presenters.
Noonan said the Collegiate Farm Bureau’s main focus during the 2017-18 school year was the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference hosted last spring by Northeast.
The event was “a big deal,” said Brady Kallhoff, an agronomy and precision ag major who was the 2017-18 chapter president.
Kallhoff said he and fellow members assisted with various pre-conference aspects, including organizing the 194 Northeast student workers. The chapter also sponsored and manned the information table during the conference, offering assistance to the more than 600 student contestants from across the United States and Australia.
Plans for this academic year include more interaction with local area FFA chapters, Noonan said, and possibly have Collegiate Farm Bureau members advocate for agriculture at local high schools.
In addition to Kallhoff, the other 2017-18 officers were: Kreg Schlautman, of West Point, vice president; Cassidy Brindisi, of Chambers, secretary; Collin Roeber, of Ashland, treasurer; and Kim Carlson, of Pierce, NACTA coordinator for the organization.
Chapter member Cole Walters, of Hemingford, said joining the collegiate Farm Bureau organization “gives you a good way to advocate for agriculture, showing it in a positive light.”
Membership in the Nebraska Farm Bureau or other state Farm Bureau by the student or their parents is not a prerequisite to collegiate membership, Noonan said.
Information about Northeast’s Collegiate Farm Bureau and Diversified Ag Club, which are open to any Northeast student, is announced in classes and during the Ag Career Day each fall. Both settings serve as excellent recruitment tools, he said.
In addition to Northeast, other Nebraska Collegiate Farm Bureau chapters are found at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Southeast Community College-Beatrice and Chadron State College campuses.
Erdman said, “Many students have developed amazing experiences and leadership skills through 4-H and FFA, and we have found that Collegiate Farm Bureau on campuses across Nebraska gives them the ability and opportunity to continue to grow personally and ensure a productive future for our state’s most important industry.”
Logan McKeon (right), of Stanton, goes over Norfolk-area tourism highlights with Carlee Stutz, of Laporte, CO, during the welcome night of the North American Colleges of Teachers of Agriculture Judging Contest hosted this spring by Northeast Community College in Norfolk. McKeon was joined by fellow Northeast students and Northeast Collegiate Farm Bureau members Darcey Simonsen, (from left), of Lyons, Alex Haase, of Plainview, Colton Schieffer, of Fordyce, and Tessa Uhing, of Hartington, in manning the information table. Stutz was among students from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis vying in the contest.