On Tuesday, Jan. 12, during the General Session of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Convention, participants welcomed Navy SEAL commander, Rorke Denver, who spoke, virtually via ZOOM, to members from around the country. Commander Denver’s message of leadership and the ways that farmers and ranchers parallel the lives of soldiers was inspiring, energetic and thought provoking.  He commented that like soldiers, the work of farmers and ranchers are a call to action and that they have to be bold to do their job, which is growing the food for the nation and world.  He said these are very unique times and during the pandemic that we really need to take care of one another, to reach out and connect however we can with family and friends. 

Commander Denver shared stories from his Navy SEAL experiences, and with each story there was a take away message that can be used in everyday life to become a better leader.  Pre 9-11, and after his Navy SEAL training, he was sent to Army Ranger School. Both the Navy SEAL and the Army Ranger Schools are elite military training schools with high attrition rates.  Only the best of the best make it through the training.  Conditions during training are cold, wet, and miserable, while you are sleep and food deprived.  And he told the story of patrolling, a basic soldering skill. Patrolling is about starting and stopping and is determined by weather, terrain, the enemy and other factors.  The take home message he learned, while on patrol and from one particular training sergeant at the school was to “constantly improve your position,” and to always have the “tactical advantage.”  Rorke reiterated that this is something everyone can do in life.

Another story he shared was during Navy SEAL training, during a field exercise which was their final exam before graduating.  At some point during the training exercise, a master chief petty officer, gathered the officers in charge of each squad together and  imparted these words of wisdom and survival, “calm is contagious.”  As leaders, you need to set the example, and hold the line, meaning the timelines for completing the mission.  If you keep your head, when those around you are losing theirs, the troops, (people in you are leading), will mimic your behavior.  

Commander Denver closed this remarks with a simple reminder, and just as he had began his remarks with “It is important to take care of each other.”