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.