Thinking Outside of the Box

Peter Bakken

State Promotion & Education Committee Chair


This year, the Promotion & Education (P&E) Committee strived to think outside the box and do a few things differently than we have done before. After setting goals at the beginning of the year, we set out to achieve them in our districts and the state. There are a variety of ways to make a difference. Figure out what works for you and dig in.


Consumer Outreach

Consumer outreach was one of the Promotion & Education Committee’s main focus areas this past year. This was to compliment and be in addition to the successful agriculture in the classroom efforts that we have been doing for many years.


Armed with an idea and a committee with excellent credentials to meet the challenge of working outside our comfort zone and thinking outside the box, we pursued putting together a program to engage our consumers and offer them an interactive opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, and how it ends up in the store. We approached the Luverne Rotary Club and invited them to a consumer outreach event which was set up in a “speed networking” type formatting. With people rotating around to different table areas, where P&E Committee members led the discussion on a commodity or area of agriculture that they are involved in. Our goal was to open conversations and answer questions about food and agriculture. It was so successful that we are working on another one.


Minnesota State Fair

I appreciated the time I had at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Being a 4-H and FFA alumni who had never participated in the State Fair, I enjoyed the opportunity to experience firsthand what happens in the buildings of exhibits, and how the Minnesota Farm Bureau is supporting our future leaders through 4-H and FFA.


I enjoyed the conversations I had sharing the fork to farm story with consumers by working a few days at the Farm Bureau building. These are things I would encourage all of you to do. You might be intimidated by driving in the cities or parking in the city or just the fear of how do I answer the consumer questions, but I encourage you to think of all the positive outcomes of getting outside of your box and sharing your story. It is really a rewarding experience. If you wonder if it is for you, ask those young 4-H, FFA or Farm Bureau leaders to tell you why they are there. I encourage you to mark it on your calendar for next year … volunteers receive a ticket into the state fair, a t-shirt, meaningful conversations and knowing you made a positive impact sharing your farm story.


Opioid Crisis

Another focus area is farm safety. Referring back to, thinking outside the box, our mindset of traditional farm safety has taken us down a path we didn’t think we would travel. The committee hosted an opioid crisis round table meeting. Extending an invitation to those influencers in the community that could offer insight and be available as a resource to those facing opioid dependency. The first event was held in Luverne and was funded by a grant fromRx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI). 


Mental Health

With the deteriorating economic times on the farm we found ourselves discussing mental health, and the impact it was having in our rural communities.


As this harvest season progresses painfully slow, please take the time to be aware of your own surroundings and your neighbors as well. Communicate with those you work with. Control only what you can control. Ask for help or seek out resources that can offer assistance. Remember, it’s the little things that mean a lot, like a short visit, taking time for a cup of coffee, and a “how are you doing?”


In Closing

I would like to challenge each county Farm Bureau to surface, support and send some representatives to the LEAP Conference this year in St. Paul in January on the 25 - 26, 2019 at the Radisson Blu. There will be two tracks so learn more here.


Thank you for supporting the Promotion and Education Committee and our programs, please consider how you too can utilize these ideas and resources in your area.


Last but not least, remember to be the little voice saying, “please be safe today, somebody needs you.”


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Thursday, December 27, 2018
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