President's and Vice-President's Conference

Posted on Mar 1, 2015
Dr. Wayne Ates urged the KFB leaders to hone their communication skills.
Dr. Wayne Ates urged the KFB leaders to hone their communication skills.

Participants in the annual Presidents and Vice Presidents Conference were presented with a full plate of topics during the two-day event last month. This included state and legislative issues, county Farm Bureau activities, agricultural education initiatives, the county loan and insurance services programs, member benefits,  business and communications strategies plus a keynote address from KFB President Mark Haney.

The large group of county leaders listened to Matthew W. Ingram’s presentation on business practices.
The large group of county leaders listened to Matthew W. Ingram’s presentation on business practices.

And then there was an unforgettable address from humorist/motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Ates. The former college professor from south Georgia had the KFB leaders roaring with laugher at his stories and jokes. But he also had a very pertinent message when he turned to the serious stuff, strongly urging the group to hone their communication skills.

“Clear communications should be a priority for all of us,” he said. “You are important people, and communications should be important to you.  Avoid miscommunication. Make it as simple as you can. Simplify.”

In concluding that message, Dr. Ates stressed three points: (1) Make it clear. (2) Make it simple. (3) Assume nothing.

Dr. Ates praised Farm Bureau, saying “you are one of the finest groups I know.” He said he has spoke at Farm Bureau functions in most of the southern states.

He had the KFB group buzzing over his riveting mix of side-splitting humor and sound advice for leadership development.

“Be more and more of what you should be; and less and less of what you shouldn’t be,” he advised.

The presentation on county activities was given by (from left) KFB Area Program Director George Hieneman, Breckinridge County Board Member John Henning, Martin County FB President Sonny Ward, Breckinridge County FB President Arnold O’Reilly and Livingston County FB President Casey Chittenden. Here, Ward is speaking about several of his county’s activities.
The presentation on county activities was given by (from left) KFB Area Program Director George Hieneman, Breckinridge County Board Member John Henning, Martin County FB President Sonny Ward, Breckinridge County FB President Arnold O’Reilly and Livingston County FB President Casey Chittenden. Here, Ward is speaking about several of his county’s activities.

A panel discussion focusing on county Farm Bureau activities also was well received. Breckinridge County FB President Arnold O’Reilly and board member John Henning spoke about their county’s rapidly expanding young farmer program. Martin County FB President Sonny Ward outlined his county’s activities, focusing on providing financial assistance for members to earn a GED.  Also, Livingston County FB President Casey Chittenden gave a presentation on a member appreciation day that concluded with a legislative dinner.

An update on the popular and highly-successful county loan program was aimed at counties that might be considering constructing a new office. Since its inception in 1986, the program has issued 146 loans with a $23 million value, enabling dozens of counties to upgrade their facilitie, said presenter Paula Smith of KFB Insurance..

Speaking on ag literacy programs was Jennifer Elwell, Executive Director of the Kentucky Agriculture and the Environment in the Classroom program.
Speaking on ag literacy programs was Jennifer Elwell, Executive Director of the Kentucky Agriculture and the Environment in the Classroom program.

On the concluding day Jennifer Elwell, the new Executive Director of the Kentucky Agriculture and the Environment in the Classroom program, and KFB’s Scott Christmas advised how counties can implement effective agricultural education and literacy activities. Ms. Elwell, who joined KDA after many years of public relations work for the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, suggested counties develop partnerships and gauge community and teacher needs. “There is so much more we can do to further ag literacy in Kentucky,” she said.

Haney told the county leaders that both the Federation and the Insurance Company entered 2015 “on strong footing” and that he was optimistic about prospects for growth this year. He stressed the importance of having a strong community presence, and of being active advocates for agriculture. The industry, he said, is continually challenged by interests with little or no knowledge about farming. “We need to be there to respond,” he said.

Tagged Post Topics Include: Arnold O'Reilly, Breckenridge County, Casey Chittenden, GED, Georgia, Jennifer Elwell, John Henning, Kentucky Agriculture and the Environment in the Classroom, Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance, Livingston County, Mark Haney, Martin County, Member Appreciation Day, Paula Smith, Sonny Ward, Wayne Ates