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YF&R program, leaders pivot in response to adversity

Issue Date: April 7, 2021
By Lindsey Mebane
Lindsey Mebane
Allen Hancock College YF&R members assemble care packages to be distributed to members of their community in Santa Barbara County.
Kern County YF&R members partnered with a produce company in 2020 to donate 4,400 pounds of food to hospitals for their front-line employees.
Napa County YF&R members, assemble garden kits to be distributed to local residents to grow their own food.
Nick Rocca, past co-chair of Fresno-Madera YF&R, led the group to serve more than 600,000 meals and 1.2 million pounds of food to people in need during the pandemic.

Can you believe we are already a quarter of the way through 2021?

I have the distinct honor of serving as the 2021 California Young Farmers and Ranchers chair. I am a fifth-generation cattle rancher, originally from San Diego County. I grew up 9 miles north of the Mexican border on a commercial cow-calf operation with my sister Alyson and parents Ben and Kelly.

I now live and work in Bakersfield as a food safety manager for Tasteful Selections LLC, a grower, packer and shipper of bite-sized potatoes. My husband Bennet and I run a commercial cow-calf operation and are involved in the family business, Western Stockman's Market, a saleyard in McFarland.

I never imagined being in a leadership role such as this, but I must give credit to my time spent in the 4-H, FFA and YF&R programs for molding me into the professional leader I am today.

2020 taught YF&R members a lot.

We went into the year with full steam ahead. Little did we know that shortly after our leadership conference in Visalia, the world would shut down. I laugh about it now, but the conference theme then was "Embrace the Past, Envision the Future."

That could not be truer for our group of leaders. 2020 threw curveballs, but the YF&R chapters came out swinging for the fences.

It was humbling to see the different committees across the state take on the challenges and give back to their communities more than ever. The number of volunteer hours, meals fed and people helped really brings a tear to my eye. Farmers and ranchers are some of the kindest, most hardworking and humble people, and I am proud to be among them.

The YF&R state committee voted that having a virtual conference was not for us. Rather than be on computer screens, we are excited to say that our leadership conference will be in conjunction with the California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, to be held in December in Garden Grove. This is going to allow YF&R members to get a better feel for what Farm Bureau is all about, and encourage them to stay members once they reach the age of 35.

The theme for the YF&R part of the conference is "Pivoting Amongst Adversity," and we plan to embrace that wholeheartedly.

As a state committee, we have big plans to include regional discussion meets and mixers, achieve record-breaking fundraising efforts for FarmPAC, and meet with county YF&R committee chairs at the Summer Leaders Meeting in Sonoma County.

We are the future of agriculture, and through the support of this program, we are investing in the next generation.

(Lindsey Mebane chairs the California Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and serves on the California Farm Bureau Board of Directors.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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