Farm Bureau University: Board Leadership Lessons on Your Laptop

News / FBNews June 20, 2017

Farmers and ranchers know better than most that learning isn’t exclusive to classrooms or meeting venues. With that in mind, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s learning and development team created Farm Bureau University, an interactive online experience that allows Farm Bureau members to learn where and when they want.

Farm Bureau University’s latest offering, Farm Bureau Board Essentials, was designed to help county Farm Bureau board members lead strong, effective organizations that meet members’ needs on all levels. The program provides resources and training for county board members in five essential pathways: Being a Board Member; Governance; Planning; Policy Development & Advocacy; and the Membership Cycle.

Whether you’ve got some time with a desktop in an office or an iPad in the field, Farm Bureau University comes to you. Still, online learning does not replace what happens in person. It makes what happens in person that much richer and more effective.
—  Kyle Perry, AFBF director of learning and development

For example, through Farm Bureau Board Essentials, a new county board member can get the fundamentals—like budget building basics or how to draft an action-oriented agenda—from the online training so when he or she meets with field staff, fellow Farm Bureau members or a retiring board member, they can get right down to the important issues at hand.

“As a package, this is one of the most comprehensive training programs AFBF has ever provided to county Farm Bureaus. It runs the whole gamut, from the history of Farm Bureau to the roles and responsibilities of county Farm Bureau board members to the many important aspects of membership to how to lead productive policy development discussions and implement those policies through advocacy,” Perry explained.

Regardless of the topic, in each pathway, the learner will experience:

  • A two-minute kickoff video
  • A 10-question pre-assessment
  • Two or more 10-minute e-learning primers
  • Two or more 10-minute e-learning skill builders
  • An application toolkit with downloadable resources
  • A 10-question post-assessment
  • Booster activities to refresh learning

Although Board Essentials was created by AFBF, between Board Essentials and Farm Bureau Builder, another FB University program, more than 50 state Farm Bureau staff members have provided valuable feedback to shape the content.

“The information we offer has been time-tested. Much of it—like the membership training and board roles and responsibilities —is pulled from existing training programs. We’re taking what works for county Farm Bureaus and putting it into an easily understood and readily accessible format,” Perry said.

Two of the five pathways—Being a Board Member and Governance—are available now. The remaining three are in the final stages of development.

To start your journey on the five essential pathways of Farm Bureau Board Essentials, go to  New users will need to register for a free account using member code “state fb,” replacing “state” with the two-letter postal abbreviation. For example, a New York Farm Bureau member’s code is: nyfb.

Perry, along with colleagues Lindsay Calvert, director of leadership development, and Elise Stoddard, director of organization development, welcome your questions and comments about Farm Bureau Board Essentials.

Farm Bureau University




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