By Cyndie Shearing
Each year, a handful of state Farm Bureau presidents step down and pass the reins to their successors. In this article, former presidents share insights from their tenures. A related article will focus on the vision for the future shared by several newly elected state Farm Bureau presidents.
How many years did you serve as president of your state Farm Bureau?
John Hoblick, Florida – I served as president of Florida Farm Bureau for 15 years.
Denis Ward, New Hampshire – I have been president of New Hampshire Farm Bureau for six years.
Jeff Aiken, Tennessee – I served as president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau for six years. Without a doubt, this was the most rewarding time of my life.
What was a highlight during your tenure as president?
John Hoblick – Serving the agriculture industry in this capacity has been rewarding. Being able to stand up and help protect our industry has truly been an honor. The biggest highlight has been the opportunity to serve agriculture.
Denis Ward – Every day that I was doing anything Farm Bureau-related was a highlight. It seems everyone respects this organization, and almost everyone I met passed that respect on to me. Even my young grandson, while telling his classmates about his family, told them I was Farm Bureau president. It was a big deal to him, how much more pleased could I be?
Jeff Aiken – There are so many, it is nearly impossible to highlight only one. I’m really proud of the great staff and teamwork that allowed us to accomplish so much, including relocating the state fair and having the Farm Bureau Expo Center prominent as a centerpiece to all who visit.
What advice would you give a young person interested in getting involved in Farm Bureau leadership?
John Hoblick – Have patience and determination to make a difference.
Denis Ward – If you want to be a leader, give credit to those around you and to your members for anything the organization accomplishes. You don’t have to know everything but listen a lot and learn all you can. The members you represent are a wealth of knowledge. Enjoy what you are doing.
Jeff Aiken – The short answer is to build relationships. However, I would also give some advice that probably differs from that of others. I believe patience and persistence are key. Patience, to prove yourself by doing the little things most don’t expect or see leaders do, and persistence, to keep doing those things until your commitment and work is recognized. This will earn long-standing trust and support.
Cyndie Shearing is a director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.