Learning how to advocate for agriculture and support local communities has been a one-year endeavor for ten enthusiastic Montana Farm Bureau members who graduated from the ACE (Advocate. Communicate. Educate.) program November 8 during the MFBF 102nd Annual Convention in Billings. The program emphasizes leadership development, issue education and the engagement of local communities. The participants spent 2021 learning honing skills at six seminars to make a difference in people’s impressions about agriculture in their local communities, as well as developing a project to help their rural communities thrive.

During the graduation luncheon at the DoubleTree, Senator Jeff Welborn (R-Dillon) praised the class for their desire to advocate for agriculture, as well as sharpening their leadership skills. Welborn was raised in a Farm Bureau family, served as the MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Chair, and has served in the Montana Legislature since 2009.

“Great leaders embrace change, keep their word, lead by example, and never talk about others behind their back,” said Welborn. He added that it’s important to take responsibility for the group you are leading, but certainly let that group do the job they were tasked with.

Citizenship plays a strong role in leadership development, including being proud of what you do and sharing your story. He urged the group to apply for other leadership trainings to continue developing leadership roles.

“ACE showed my how to improve my focus by removing the distractions of the national and international levels, and concentrating on the importance of our local communities,” noted Rachel Frost, program leader for the Dan Scott Ranch Management Program, Montana State University.

Aly Robins, Snowy Mountain Marketing, said the program gave her the confidence to bring to fruition her vision, which was helping small rural agricultural businesses grow.

Rancher and agricultural education instructor Dana Jansen explained that ACE, “Taught how your values and your actions can be of service to other people. You learn to recognize what is important as a leader.”

Applications for the 2022 ACE Program are now due December 10, 2021. For more information and the ACE application click here.