Lauren Thompson was clicking around the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website when she came across the announcement of the formation of the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council.
Thompson, a senior at Baldwin-Woodville High School, was on the DATCP website because of her role on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. But she recognized the new opportunity immediately.
“I saw the announcement and thought, ‘Wow, I want to do that,’” Thompson said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with 14 other youth who have a passion for agriculture and agriculture officials on how we can impact the agriculture industry in the future.”
DATCP Secretary-designee Randy Romanski announced the 15 members of the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council Sept. 10.
Members will serve a one-year term, receiving a certificate of completion at the end of their service.
Members include Chad Achenbach of Eastman, Haley Beukema of New Richmond, Hannah Dahl of Columbus, Charles Fahey of Sussex, Kendra Goplin of Osseo, Samantha Hammiller of Burlington, Abigail Helbach of Amherst, Sophia Larson of Reedsburg, Adaire MacSwain of Hudson, Jamison Meier of Windsor, Natalie Ott of Berlin, Natalie Roe of Monticello, Drew Tuttle of Drummond, Randy Winch of Fennimore and Thompson.
“These students are outstanding representatives of the future of Wisconsin agriculture, and their insights will be incredibly valuable to our department and the entire industry,” Romanski said. “We are excited to engage with these young people to promote agricultural career opportunities, share resources available for farmers, and discuss agricultural policy development.”
The purpose of the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council is to encourage young people to engage with state government and increase their awareness of DATCP’s interactions with Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. Council members will, beginning this week, attend monthly virtual sessions, hearing presentations and engaging in discussion.
“We’re really proud to see the distribution of the students from around the state,” Romanski said. “We’re excited about the broad spectrum of the world of agriculture that they bring. Their insights are going to be incredibly valuable to our department and, and we are looking forward to engaging with these young people to promote agricultural career opportunities, talk about resources that are available for farmers and discuss a cultural policy development.”
Thompson is a member of the Baldwin-Woodville FFA chapter and is the youth president of the Wisconsin 4-H Leadership Council. She lives on her family’s hobby farm in Woodville with registered Percheron draft horses, sheep and poultry.
She said her membership on the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council and the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity, where she is the only youth member, are her way of looking to give back to the agriculture industry after she ages out of 4-H and FFA.
“The industry has definitely changed my life, and now I can’t imagine life without it,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to have the chance to work with such great people in the ag industry.
“Agriculture has given so much to me, I want to give back and learn more about the industry.”
For more information about the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council, visit agyouthcouncil.wi.gov. Follow the hashtag #WIAgYouthCouncil on social media for updates throughout the year.
Commission on Rural Prosperity
The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity has continued to meet virtually during the coronavirus pandemic, and written comments can be provided to the commission until Sept. 30.
“One of the things that that the Blue Ribbon Commission has heard thus far is the importance of public and private partnerships as we look at the opportunities for real prosperity across Wisconsin,” Romanski said. “They’ve also talked about the great opportunities in our rural communities, and they’ve again stressed the need for broadband connectivity for farms, businesses, residents and students.”
Romanski said the commission has also heard from participants about the importance of of education and training to prepare people for careers in agriculture.
The commission was created in January by Gov. Tony Evers to gather on-the-ground input from stakeholders throughout the state whose lives and livelihoods are tied to the vitality of the state agriculture industry, rural businesses and rural communities.
Thompson, the youngest member on the commission, said the group has already gathered a good amount of information about ways to assist rural communities.
“I feel fortunate as the only youth on the commission to be able to facilitate conversations about policy and change,” she said. “We’ve had amazing conversations with people from rural communities to see what they need to build successful communities.”
Information on the commission can be found on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s website at https://wedc.org/rural-prosperity/rural-prosperity-blue-ribbon-commission/#recaps.