I’m Mary Hill and am a fourth generation rancher living on the ranch my mom grew up on. I ranched with my folks north of Geyser for many years raising commercial cattle, quarter horses, and a few pigs. I moved to Raynesford in 1998 and soon switched over to purebred Gelbvieh cattle and reduced the horse herd considerably (also, no pigs here). I joined Montana Farm Bureau in 2007, as I had been looking for a grassroots organization that could get results and expressed my interests in saving rural Montana and our livelihood in this great state. I am on the Board of Directors for the Judith Basin County Farm Bureau.

MFBF ACEThe A.C.E. program provides an excellent means to learn more about how to communicate truths about agriculture to the public and government officials. I learned so much in our first session about truly listening, I think my goals and reason for participating changed after that; truly listening to folks to understand how we can come together for the betterment of all.

My goals would be to encourage more participation from members who haven’t showed much involvement to date. The grassroots structure of our wonderful organization does so much better if you have large numbers of members involved in the direction and development of policies. I have started planning for a youth Rural Safety Day in our area. 

I believe we have a major disconnect with the general public on what stewards of the land and animal welfare specialists we are. We need to listen to all people on all sides of the issues and build cohesion and sustainable plans and support for the people that feed, clothe, and shelter the world. A.C.E. will help immensely in efforts to unite people in working for the same goal, creating a better place on this planet for the next generations.

Through the skill set taught in ACE, I see my leadership role as quietly planting the seeds that get people together and create the desire to truly invest in a common goal. I believe we all want to build a better place for our kids and grandkids. I can do this through utilizing social media and simply engaging with folks at community events. I’d like to build our county Farm Bureau involvement at board meetings and community events and do a better job of creating visibility in our community by encouraging involvement at the county fair and increased participation in other MFBF opportunities.

Rural Montana needs leaders. We don’t have enough folks stepping up and taking the reins (some have simply burnt out as they have been doing it for years). It is time for a new generation of Farm Bureau members to step up and start communicating with community leaders, government leaders, and most of the general public. Even in our rural setting, we have many of our youth that have little to no involvement in ranching, farming, or other resource management businesses.

Social media is there for our use – we need to reach out to people that haven’t experienced our way of life. We need to listen first then we can begin to let them know we are true in our word of being animal, soil, air, and mineral conversationalists.

If we sit here and think that they (whoever they are) will come around without advocacy, communication, and education we are greatly mistaken and our lives as we know it will be gone forever.