Colorado Farm Bureau’s county boards are full of our most valuable resources — local leaders. Those that take on leadership opportunities and support local counties are really the back bone of the organization. Throughout the week of April 1-5, the American Farm Bureau Federation and Colorado Farm Bureau are celebrating local leaders and providing a week full of online opportunities to foster the development of county leaders.
The event will include Facebook live interviews, podcasts, and opportunities to connect with county leaders and staff from across the country. Find your closest internet connection and join the conversation!
Here are tips for what will be covered throughout the week:
Monday: Being a Board Member
Being a county Farm Bureau Board Member is an endeavor that demands respect, but it also comes with great responsibility. Successful board members must continually test and improve themselves so that they can continue to be effective in the duties that they are bestowed. Here are the primary duties and building blocks that make up a county Farm Bureau:
- Duty of Care
- Duty of Obedience
- Duty of Transparency
- Duty of Loyalty
- Policy Development
- Volunteer Engagement
The tell tale signs of a healthy county Farm Bureau is determined by the actions of good governance by the county board of directors. Make sure the following actions are taken in your county farm bureau will ensure longevity and legitimacy to the county federation.
The county Farm Bureau:
- annually reviews the organizing documents to ensure that they are in compliance with state and IRS laws (i.e., articles of incorporation, by laws, IRS exemption letter, standard policies, etc.).
- files its annual information return, the Form 990, 990-T, 990-EZ, or 990-N (e-postcard), with the IRS.
- has governance policies that enable the organization to manage and reduce risks to a tolerable level (i.e., Conflict of Interest Policy, Whistleblower Policy, etc.).
- has insurance coverage to protect the organization and its assets including property and casualty, liability, and directors and officers insurance.
- members keep appropriate information confidential and disclose conflicts of interest when they occur.
- approves meeting minutes, requires that the president and secretary sign meeting minutes, and keeps official copies of the minutes.
- receives meeting notices, agendas, and supporting materials prior to each board meeting.
- plans and holds the number of official board meetings that are needed throughout the year.
- has a signed Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement with the state Farm Bureau® and reviews it annually.
- board creates and appoints committees that align with the core goals, mission, and values of the organization.
- has job descriptions for volunteers that define the responsibilities of officers, board members, committee chairs, staff, and others in supporting roles.
- provides training for board members pertaining to their responsibilities and potential liability, and gives each board member a copy of all governing and organizing documents (bylaws, policies, etc.).
Effectiveness of a county Farm Bureau relies on Planning! Planning helps keep a board and committees on track to reach their goals and gives them a process when the unexpected occurs. Is planning right for your county board? Ask yourself some of the following questions and if you answer “YES” consider completing an annual Program of Activities and calendar.
YES/NO – Is it hard to explain to someone what our county Farm Bureau does?
YES/NO – Is it a challenge to give a potential volunteer several ideas of how they could be involved?
YES/NO – Do we spend time at each board meeting rehashing what we want to do during the rest of the year?
YES/NO – Do we tend to focus on the urgent at the expense of non-urgent, but important, items?
YES/NO – Do major events sneak up on us?
YES/NO – Do we do the same activities each year, even though some of them aren’t very effective?
YES/NO – Would it be difficult to convince someone to join the Farm Bureau based solely on what our county does each year?
Thursday: Advocacy and Policy Development
Advocacy shouldn’t be something that only takes place in Washington, D.C. or Denver. Advocacy can come in your local community, in fact, often that’s the best place to advocate. To help amplify your voice, try some of the following ideas throughout the coming year:
- Connect with local officials to learn about their priorities and action items for the year.
- Keep your local advocates informed about your county’s successes and invite them to join your advocacy efforts.
- Comment on news articles or social media posts to help share the perspective of agriculture with others.
- Host a local event for legislators to introduce community members and local leaders to elected officials.
- Engage with local media though written letters or opinion pieces. Need help? The state office would love to help brainstorming or writing!
- As always, make sure to submit local policies to your county Farm Bureau and engage at the state annual meeting!
Membership recruitment and retainment is vital for county farm bureaus to continue to provide volunteers and financial support to make their goals, programs and activities a reality. Work with others on your county board, engaged members and your local insurance company to identify potential members and discuss ways to engage them.
This year, the Colorado Farm Bureau’s Membership Taskforce has talked about the importance of increased membership and how to make it easier. Stay tuned for more tailored information on how you can adopt their recommendations into your own county plan.
For more information on these leadership topics and other development opportunities, contact Jayde Van Cleave at firstname.lastname@example.org.