KFB prepares future ag leaders

Posted on Jul 11, 2013
By: Kyle Kelly

Over the last two weeks I had the privilege to watch 91 high school students grow and develop leadership skills through Kentucky Farm Bureau’s IFAL program. IFAL, which stands for Institute for Future Agricultural leaders, is one of many programs sponsored by KFB to help develop, educate and advance high school students to the next level.

The first conference, held at Murray State University, began June 16 and ended on June 20. Forty-five high school students from across the state made the trip to Murray for the week to begin gaining leadership knowledge and experience that will help them succeed in their future.

The following week, IFAL was held at the University of Kentucky. A new crop of 46 high school students were able to “Bleed Blue” as UK welcomed them to their campus for the week.

MSU and UK worked alongside KFB to accommodate students in the dorms, offer great tours of their agriculture facilities and teach students the importance of agriculture in their home communities.

When the week began it was easy to see that students were slightly shy and didn’t interact smoothly with one another. As familiarity with the campuses, counselors and fellow participants settled in, students began to come out of their shells and bond with their peers as well as faculty and staff.

“Meeting everyone was amazing,” said Aaron Lynn, a participant at MSU and senior at Madisonville North Hopkins High School, “I feel like I have made friends that will last me a lifetime.”

By the second day students were paired up in animal-themed teams, allowed to explore more of the campus and really get to know each other. Besides the animal groups, students also were divided up into discussion meet teams. This competition at IFAL is a near replica of KFB’s Young Farmer’s annual discussion meet.

“This was a great opportunity for young students to see what KFB has to offer through their Young Farmer Program,” said Erica Rogers, a UK IFAL participant and senior at Calloway County High School.

To participate in the discussion meet, students were given an agriculturally-based question that they were expected to answer, debate and defend by the week’s end. This activity required students to conduct hours of research throughout the week to prepare a response. Near the end of the week each group had the opportunity to discuss to a panel of judges what they had learned about the issue they had been assigned.

Jonathan West, a participant from the IFAL program at UK and senior at Knox Central High School, described the meet as “a chance for us to step out of our comfort zone and discuss an issue we had no prior knowledge of. It made me realize the importance of politics in agriculture. It truly helped me grow.”

Multiple university farm and agribusiness tours were presented to the students as well. IFAL participants were able to interact with some of the most influential leaders in their areas.

Lynn adds, “The week helped me make connections that can help me in my future pursuit for a job.”

About the author: Kyle Kelly is a summer intern for Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, working with various elements of the organization’s education, Young Farmer and communication programs. He directly assisted with the facilitation of the 2013 IFAL program at both locations.

Tagged Post Topics Include: Aaron Lynn, Calloway County High School, Erica Rogers, IFAL, Jonathan West, KFB, Knox Central High School, Kyle Kelly, Madisonville North Hopkins High School, Murray State University, University of Kentucky