Do one thing every day that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt 

Now, as ranchers that might not be as tall of an order, especially during calving season. When it comes to going outside of our comfort zone to do something like public speaking or advocacy, however, a mama cow on the fight in a snow storm might not seem that bad. Public speaking and participation is out of most producers’ comfort zone, I know participating in Montana Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet was sure outside of mine.  It took two years of encouragement from Jennie Anderson for me to finally throw my hat in the metaphorical YF&R ring, but I am so glad I did.

 Since winning in Billings, I have been lucky enough to connect with both ag and non-ag folks, field their questions, and accept their congratulations. I have been pulled aside by a young couple with their newborn that listened to the Facebook Live post on beginning ranchers and farmers. They want to get their own operation going and my first piece of advice was to join Farm Bureau, connect and network for opportunities. I had the opportunity to share my experience on Dave Ramsey's national radio show with 13 million listeners tuning in, giving a shout out to Farm Bureau and explain exactly what a Discussion Meet is.  I got to compete against the other states' winners, shake hands with AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Taylor was able to see and listen to President Trump speak to AFBF. Taylor and I were able to spend time talking to producers from around the country who have a set of skills and experiences vastly different from ours, and yet, we shared similar interests.

The trip was great, obviously. Taylor and I were able to take our kids and have too many wonderful experiences to list here. Our biggest lesson has been that it’s easier than we thought to get involved. Listen to an ag-related blog or radio station daily, subscribe to trade journals and newspapers and most of all, take advantage of all the great tools and opportunities in front of you in Montana Farm Bureau. Don’t know how to get involved? Here’s some ideas: jump on, read about the advocacy campaigns, use Voter Voice to send a message to your representatives, attend your county meetings, participate in committees and contests (like the Discussion Meet), and check out Montana Farm Bureau’s awesome social media presence. We have learned that education and advocacy has to become part of our daily mode of operation, much in the same way we keep up with bills or maintain vehicles.

Thank you to the MFBF staff for all working so hard to make a trip like ours possible, and working every day to help Montana Farm Bureau members be the voice for agriculture. Thanks to Sue Ann and John for helping me prepare and compete, thank you to Rebecca and Laura for presenting me in the best light possible both in print and social media.

Just like that mama cow in the snow storm, don’t let the fear of going outside your comfort zone get you in a corner. Just jump into your Polaris Ranger and face it head on.

Sophi won the 2017 MFBF Discussion and received a Polaris Ranger and an all expense paid trip to Nashville to represent Montana in the AFBF Discussion meet.  Sophi and her husband live and work on a ranch near Springdale, MT.

Interested in participating in the 2018 MFBF Discussion Meet?  Sign up here. Must be signed up by November 5.
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