Faith in the Future of Agriculture

By Glenn Brunkow, Pottawatomie County farmer and rancher

This past weekend was my favorite Kansas Farm Bureau event, the Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Conference. I am going to let you in on a secret, I am over 35. I know you are all shocked, and I am a bit surprised they still let me through the doors. I guess they either take pity on me or they let me in because I am on the state board of directors. Either way I am always happy to sneak in and get my batteries recharged.

I think I have figured out the fountain of youth, and it is to spend time around this outstanding group of young farmers, ranchers, agribusiness people and students. Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious, even for an old guy several years past the YF&R expiration date.

The conference itself is outstanding. The keynote speakers and information shared is some of the best and most timely for those of us in agriculture. Then there are the breakout sessions and workshops, again some of the leading experts in their fields and cutting edge information. Include that with contests showcasing our industry’s best and brightest along with social events and you have a great weekend. The best part is it is planned, coordinated and put on by the Young Farmer and Rancher committee, the best and brightest members 35 and younger in Kansas Farm Bureau.

Does it sound like I am bragging? I hope so because I am. We hear all the time about the aging agriculture industry and often pundits wonder where we are headed. Will our producers age out? Will we be able to feed a growing, hungry population? Spend a weekend at the Young Farmer and Rancher Conference and you know we will be in good hands. Spending time with this group will renew your faith in the future. I love listening to the conversations and hearing the new ideas and enthusiasm.

This conference was crucial for Jennifer and I as we started our journey in agriculture. So many times you feel alone and it seems like no one understands what you are going through. Then you come to your first YF&R Conference and find out there are many others going through the same trials and tribulations. The networking in the hallways and the friendships you make over the weekend are truly the most valuable part of the conference. We still have friendships that were forged during this conference.

That is why each year I look forward to this weekend. I must admit I am being a little selfish because I know I get more out of it than I give to the participants I meet. This old guy is transformed back into a time when anything was possible and my career was ahead of me. I wish I could bottle the excitement and energy up for all of you, it is something we all need these days. I can’t do that, but I can go forth knowing agriculture is in good hands.

“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.Β 

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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