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Local Farm Bureau agency looking to recruit youth

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 11:59 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 12:15 p.m. CDT
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Joey and Michelle Van Kooten run a family farm near Kellogg and are the type of young ag professionals that Jasper County Farm Bureau is hoping to attract by hosting more events geared toward younger ag professionals.

According to the 2012 U.S. Ag Census, the average age of a Jasper County farmer is 57.

Jasper County’s Farm Bureau agency has seen this number reflected in its active members, which is why it’s trying to reach out to young ag professionals.

“The events and things that we have going at Farm Bureau are really appealing to our older members. Like we just had our member appreciation dinner this past Monday, and a lot of the people walking in were like 50 plus,” said Kristie Chipera, JCFB spokesperson.

Although it appreciates how active its older members are, JCFB recognizes that it needs to recruit more youth — it’s targeting young ag professionals between 21 and 40 — and is working harder to get its current young members active.

The first step for recruiting came when JCFB teamed up with Iowa Speedway to host the upcoming Jasper County Young Ag Professionals “Up to Speed” Series.

“We’re just trying to get some of the younger people involved, which is what one of our main focuses was when putting this together,” Chipera said.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday at Newton’s DMACC Campus, the first event in the Up to Speed series will come in the form of an Ag Professionals Workshop.

“Basically, it’s going to give some young professionals the opportunity to learn more about drones …  We’ll have a grain and livestock breakout session, but we will have the actual drone there and be doing a demonstration and fly it around one of the parking lots,” Chipera said.

“That is going to be something that we are really excited about, something that’s really kind of new.”

The second part of the series will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Iowa Speedway’s Newton Club. This event is being labeled the Young Ag Professionals “After Hours.”

“Saturday is kind of networking, more laid back kind of event. Just trying to really get people out there … We just want to get to get more people involved and that was the main focus in this,” Chipera said.

During the after hours, there will be tours of the Speedway, track rides and free drinks and snacks.

“We are definitely looking ahead for more events like these, where we can get more people involved, especially moving forward. We’ll still do things to keep the older people involved, because they seem to be the only ones involved, which is why our focus is on (the youth),” Chipera said.

You don’t have to be a member of  Farm Bureau to attend either of these events said Chipera.  She is asking that people RVSP to either event by Thursday by calling the JCFB at (641) 792-6253 or emailing Jasper.County@ifbf.org.

Contact Senior Staff Writer Ty Rushing at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6532 or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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