April 16, 2021

Balancing farm, family and advocacy

Find your ‘why’

WASHINGTON — Juggling your career, farm and family is no easy task. Finding the right balance is important.

Three farmers discussed maintaining that balance at the American Farm Bureau Foundation’s Fusion Reimagined Conference.

They agreed that understanding your “why” is the first step.

“I think it’s important to ask ourselves why we’re doing this and using that as our motivation to be involved,” said Sarah Ison, member of Partners in Advocacy Leadership.

Her “why” was to ensure there is a safe supply of food in the United States.

Now that her family has grown, her “why” has evolved.

“There are policies that dictate what happens on our farm and with my kids,” she said. “Knowing I could use my knowledge to help direct some of those policies, or educate or inform legislation and consumers — it’s why I continue to do it.”

Ison has a strong support system with her husband, which helps with the work-family balance.

“We’re both goal setters,” she said. “We know, at the end of the day, our relationship with our family and God is most important. We both knew that there has to be give and take on both sides, between work, advocacy and leadership.

“At the end of the day, we’re both working together towards those common goals.”

For James Henderson, state board member of Partners in Advocacy Leadership, his “why” is his legacy.

“If we don’t take care of the policy side — that could affect our legacy,” he said. “That legacy is creating the opportunity for our children to continue farming.”

Whether it’s a formal, written statement, or something you keep in the back of your mind to keep you going, find your reason “why.”

Matthew McClanahan, also a member of Partners in Advocacy Leadership, works to make sure farms are sustainable. That’s his “why.”

“My Christian faith is very important to me,” he said. “The idea of what God has given us, we have to be good stewards of, is very important to my wife and I.”

The Farm Bureau organization needs to be sustainable, as well.

“If our organization is going to make it another 100 years, we need to make sure we’re training the next generation of leaders and remain committed to the principles we were founded on while still addressing 21st century problems,” McClanahan said.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor