Rural health resources impact every facet of agriculture
My name is Andee Baker. I am a junior at Montana State University (MSU) studying agriculture communications and psychology. Before coming to school, I grew up as a fourth-generation farmer on a diversified agriculture operation focused on swine production in Park City, Montana. I have maintained my connection to agriculture roots in college through joining various clubs, including Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers. I joined CYF&R in the fall of 2019; however, I did not get more involved in the Farm Bureau until this summer, when I had the opportunity to intern with the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.
I heard about the ACE Program from past ACE participants in my area. Becoming more involved at the county level has helped me create lasting connections with agriculturists in my area and learn about programs such as ACE. While I had been considering this program since this summer, I became sold on the lasting impacts of ACE at the 2021 Montana Farm Bureau Annual Convention. I saw the videos that showed the members' individual growth through this program. I want to continue my personal development, and ACE was the best next step!
Since joining the ACE Program, I have become the treasurer of the CYF&R Chapter at MSU. I have helped organize our funding and have helped plan events for students as our officer team works to increase our membership. It is not easy to be present at all Carbon-Stillwater County events while being at college in Bozeman. However, I would like to work with our local YF&R Chairperson, Tysa Oswald, to create a more active YF&R committee by gaining membership and planning events with the Yellowstone County Farm Bureau.
Every industry and individual has a different issue that is their priority. Yet, I find that the lack of health resources in rural communities affects every facet of agriculture. It takes a person in Winifred over an hour to get to a hospital, and there is a lack of mental health resources in rural communities. We cannot expect farmers and ranchers to feed the world if they cannot stay healthy, making this the most critical crisis in agriculture.
I plan to use the skills I am developing in ACE to better the CYF&R Chapter at MSU. Using some of the techniques and knowledge I learned in the first seminar, our collegiate chapter has already nearly doubled in size, and members continue to come to meetings and events. Additionally, when I am back at home in Park City, I plan to be an active member of the Carbon-Stillwater County Farm Bureau as we work to build up our YF&R chapter locally.
I recently attended the Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. I saw nearly a thousand attendees from across the country share their passion for agriculture to promote the number of industries involved in agriculture. Amongst other agriculturists, it was clear that many facets of agriculture seen in Montana, such as Pulse Crops and Wheat Production, were not national priorities. We need rural farmers and ranchers to be a voice across the country for our local industries. They can help educate the other agriculture industries, policymakers, and the public.
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