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Top Story

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Berrien County Farm Bureau’s June 25 membership event drew some 70 attendees to the County Sportsman’s Club in Berrien Springs for a barbecue meal, sander races and fellowship.

Marcellus-based food truck Scott’s Pig Roast provided a delicious pulled-pork and beef brisket with plenty of the traditional picnic side dishes.

During dinner members of the Berrien County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, including President Ed Kretchman, spoke about local Farm Bureau programming and emphasized the value of Farm Bureau membership.

Excitement escalated after dinner with seven members competing in double-elimination belt sander races. Officials refereeing the event include local Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Marty Rudlaff and Michigan Farm Bureau CEO Scott Piggott.

Piggott explained the race rules to the gathered crowd while Rudlaff organized contestants according to a race bracket made by Tera Baker, Berrien County’s Young Farmer co-chair. Baker also announced the races, generating excitement amongst the racers and audience members alike.

Two at a time, the sanders flew down the 48-foot track, built by board member Joshua Rick of Baroda. Rudlaff officiated the start while Piggott declared the winner as each heat crossed the finish line.

When all had taken their final run, Ed Kretchman’s “Warrior” sander was declared the winner by a long shot, besting Terry Koebel’s “Funny Farm” entry.

During dinner, tickets were distributed for voting for which sander each attendee thought would win the races and the sander with the best decoration. After the races were completed, the votes were tabulated and best-decorated honors went to Koebel’s “Funny Farm,” which featured a pig in a Farm Bureau t-shirt riding a cow “driving” the sander.

The evening rounded out with a great deal of fellowship and laughter as the bonfire was lit, the cornhole bags flew and the bounce house rocked with kids of all ages!

Berrien County Membership Event was fun for all ages!

County News

Jennie Koebel

Thanks-4-Giving

Last Saturday, Members of Berrien County Farm Bureau gathered at the local fairgrounds in Berrien Springs, to pack baskets with all the ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving meal for hungry families.

In total 110 baskets were distributed throughout the county. This charity event was a combined effort of thirteen 4-H Clubs, the Southwest Michigan Collegiate Farm Bureau and Berrien County Farm Bureau. A matching funds grant was awarded by the Agent Charitable Fund for the project.

Berrien County Farm Bureau provides meals to hungry families
Byline Here

County Farm Bureau members (from left) Mark Trowbridge, Dave Mumby, Sara Trattles and Emily Swift were among the mix of seasoned and ascendant leaders attending District 1’s June Leadership Summit, which has earned the southwestern counties a national-level excellence award. 

There’s a new addition to southwestern Michigan’s trophy case after the county Farm Bureaus in MFB’s District 1 — Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren — earned a national-level County Activities of Excellence Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Originally held in mid-June, District 1’s Leadership Summit was its solution to the COVID pandemic cancelling this year’s usual calendar of statewide core programs, including MFB’s legislative seminars, program-centric conferences and other normal development activities.

The event targeted all county Farm Bureau board members in the five-county district, as well as prospective future leaders and county staff.

All of the nearly 80 attendees completed DiSC Assessments ahead of time to learn more about their own behavior and leadership styles. Guest speakers addressed several leadership topics, with particular focus on how attendees might work toward building influence in their respective communities back home.

“We felt it was imperative to provide an opportunity for both our current board members and promising, up-and-coming leaders to take part in a high-level leadership and personal development opportunity,” said Kalamazoo County vegetable grower Brigette Leach, who represents District 1 on the MFB Board of Directors. “Our focus was on coaching our people on how best to lead their county Farm Bureaus as a team and best understand each other.

“To compliment the DiSC Assessment component, organizers — primarily our county presidents — felt that having an event in the summer, when county leaders could most easily come together, would benefit all the county Farm Bureaus in terms of working together at a regional level.

“Each county president led a portion of the program; it really became a team project for the district and allowed the county Farm Bureaus to identify and develop their leaders and strengthen their succession plans.”

The win makes District 1 eligible for showcasing its winning activity — a districtwide leadership summit — at AFBF’s 2022 Annual Convention in Atlanta alongside 17 other honorees from across the country.

There’s a new addition to southwestern Michigan’s trophy case after the county Farm Bureaus in MFB’s District 1 — Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren — earned a national-level County Activities of Excellence Award from the American Far
Byline Here

Berrien County Farm Bureau’s June 25 membership event drew some 70 attendees to the County Sportsman’s Club in Berrien Springs for a barbecue meal, sander races and fellowship.

Marcellus-based food truck Scott’s Pig Roast provided a delicious pulled-pork and beef brisket with plenty of the traditional picnic side dishes.

During dinner members of the Berrien County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, including President Ed Kretchman, spoke about local Farm Bureau programming and emphasized the value of Farm Bureau membership.

Excitement escalated after dinner with seven members competing in double-elimination belt sander races. Officials refereeing the event include local Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Marty Rudlaff and Michigan Farm Bureau CEO Scott Piggott.

Piggott explained the race rules to the gathered crowd while Rudlaff organized contestants according to a race bracket made by Tera Baker, Berrien County’s Young Farmer co-chair. Baker also announced the races, generating excitement amongst the racers and audience members alike.

Two at a time, the sanders flew down the 48-foot track, built by board member Joshua Rick of Baroda. Rudlaff officiated the start while Piggott declared the winner as each heat crossed the finish line.

When all had taken their final run, Ed Kretchman’s “Warrior” sander was declared the winner by a long shot, besting Terry Koebel’s “Funny Farm” entry.

During dinner, tickets were distributed for voting for which sander each attendee thought would win the races and the sander with the best decoration. After the races were completed, the votes were tabulated and best-decorated honors went to Koebel’s “Funny Farm,” which featured a pig in a Farm Bureau t-shirt riding a cow “driving” the sander.

The evening rounded out with a great deal of fellowship and laughter as the bonfire was lit, the cornhole bags flew and the bounce house rocked with kids of all ages!

Berrien County Membership Event was fun for all ages!

State News


“Dale’s an example of a traditional county Farm Bureau board member: Their world is their county — they’re dedicated.”

This article has three simple goals:

  1. Honor the memory of an active Farm Bureau member — one specific man — whose years were recently cut tragically short.
  2. Honor the unsung style of member he was: the strictly local kind, content to do good work in their familiar, comfortable corner of a much larger universe.
  3. Encourage county Farm Bureaus to do more of #2.

The ‘larger universe’ here is the greater Farm Bureau organization, with its award plaques, stage walks and grip-n-grin photos, all in the name of recognizing the indispensable work of outstanding members and counties. In an organization reliant on the efforts of volunteers, recognizing those efforts is essential.

The ‘one specific man’ in this case never saw any of that, simply because he neither sought nor desired it. He is — was — Dale Frisque, who died Aug. 5 at the age of 59, the sole casualty of a fire at the cedar mill where he’d worked his whole adult life.

That mill is in the center of Menominee County, anchoring the south end of Carney, where Dale grew up, attended high school and was the third generation to work his family’s farm. He inherited Frisque Hilltop Farms in the wake of his father’s death, and completed its transition from dairy to beef, hay and oats.

“That was my grandparents’ farm — the farm my mother grew up on,” remembers longtime Menominee leader Pete Kleiman, a first cousin of Frisque’s.

“Dale never did get married; he stayed on the farm with his mother, raised hay, corn, oats to feed the beef… Some chickens, ducks… Sold round bales in the winter to horse people.

“Kind of an old-fashioned farm, really.”

Wasn't Like That

He joined Farm Bureau in 2001, launching an impressive track record of involvement in membership events, annual meetings and other activities central to the organization.

“I was the one who talked Dale into running for the county board in the first place,” Kleiman said. “We were looking for somebody from that area; it’s hard to find folks there.”

With a regular job in town and the farm only a couple miles away, Frisque was busy but always nearby and ready to help.

“He was kind of a homebody and involved in the community as best he could — the Lions and the church and sports clubs.”

And he brought that same sturdy reliability to the Menominee County Farm Bureau board, Kleiman recalls:

“He wasn’t a board member who… Y’know some people come onto a board with an agenda and ‘Once I get done what I want to get done, I’m gone.’

“Dale wasn’t like that. He showed up every month and he was willing to offer his opinion about how to proceed with something and if he didn’t think it was a good idea, he’d say so.

“He was just never going to be that person to serve on a state committee — that just wasn’t something he wanted to do. But when we did Breakfast on the Farm we could always count on him to be there on the weekend to help out.”

Plenty to Do 

The same held true at the mill, where Dale knew every facet of the operation and could always be counted on, even when it meant stepping away for a bit.

“At the mill when things slowed down and they needed somebody to take a week off, Dale was always willing to take a voluntary leave because he always had plenty to do back on the farm,” Kleiman said.

The mill was Peterson Brothers when he started there as a teenager, then Gilbert & Bennet, then Superior Cedar after a group of its own employees bought the place. Over the years it dealt in pulpwood and fence posts and bark mulch — mountains of mulch, feeding city folks’ garden beds by the semi load.

And in an instant, innocent sawdust turned into a lethal inferno.

Most Don't Know

News of Dale’s loss came promptly the next morning, Aug. 6, straight into the gut of MFB’s state staff convening online for an informal weekly meeting. The messenger was Craig Knudson, our seasoned Regional Manager in the Upper Peninsula.

“Most of you probably don’t know him,” he started, before announcing the loss in the succinct, economic way we do when those left behind are still wondering how and why.

That Frisque’s name was unfamiliar even to longtime MFB staffers came as no surprise to Knudson, who’d shepherded Dale’s involvement for almost two decades.

“Dale’s an example of a traditional county Farm Bureau board member: Their world is their county — they’re dedicated,” Knudson said, his voice growing bolder, more insistent.

“You won’t see them at State Annual Meeting, but they’re dedicated to the county Farm Bureau at the local level.

“That’s where Dale fit in.”

Moral of the Story

Our society rewards ambition and glorifies ladder-climbing heroes striving for greatness that skeptical observers may dismiss as out of reach. On the flip side of that, we can overlook those of more moderate aspirations: “Big fish in a small pond” is not a compliment.

The message for county Farm Bureaus is simple: Be sure to support your quiet journeymen, low-profile workhorses and behind-the-scenesters who get things done outside the limelight.

An industry that values humility can’t forget to honor the humble.

The ‘larger universe’ here is the greater Farm Bureau organization, with its award plaques, stage walks and grip-n-grin photos, all in the name of recognizing the indispensable work of outstanding members and counties. In an organization reliant on t

The Emmet County Farm Bureau’s member-appreciation event, a drive-through dinner hosted by the Petoskey Culver’s restaurant, earned it District 11’s Champion of Excellence honors in Grassroots Innovation. Pictured above are Emmet leaders Ben Blaho (left) and Bill McMaster

Michigan Farm Bureau recently announced the winners of this year’s Champions of Excellence Awards, acknowledging county Farm Bureaus’ efforts toward engaging their membership and their innovative means of doing so.

Altogether this year 37 county Farm Bureaus applied for a total of 45 Champions awards in two updated categories: Grassroots and Involvement, each going above and beyond creating innovative and effective member programming.

Counties were also evaluated on their involvement statistics throughout the recently concluded membership year.

Here are our 2021 Champions of Excellence winners, by district:

Grassroots

  • District 1: Cass County Farm Bureau
  • District 2: Jackson County Farm Bureau
  • District 3: Washtenaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 4: Ionia County Farm Bureau
  • District 5: Clinton County Farm Bureau
  • District 6: Lapeer County Farm Bureau
  • District 7: Mecosta County Farm Bureau
  • District 8: Isabella County Farm Bureau
  • District 9: Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10: Gladwin County Farm Bureau
  • District 11: Emmet County Farm Bureau
  • District 12: Iron Range Farm Bureau

Involvement

  • District 1: Berrien County Farm Bureau
  • District 2: Calhoun County Farm Bureau
  • District 3: Oakland County Farm Bureau
  • District 4: Kent County Farm Bureau
  • District 5: Shiawassee County Farm Bureau
  • District 6: Lapeer County Farm Bureau
  • District 7: Osceola County Farm Bureau
  • District 8: Saginaw County Farm Bureau
  • District 9: Mason County Farm Bureau
  • District 10: Huron Shores Farm Bureau
  • District 11: Cheboygan County Farm Bureau
  • District 12: Iron Range Farm Bureau

One state-level winner in each category will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced at MFB’s 2022 Council of Presidents’ Conference, Feb. 2-3 in Midland.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding county Farm Bureaus for their exemplary work throughout the 2020-21 membership year!

The ideas and events submitted through the Champions of Excellence Awards process will be shared with all county Farm Bureaus so everyone can strive toward the greatness our winners have achieved.

Michigan Farm Bureau recently announced the winners of this year’s Champions of Excellence Awards, acknowledging county Farm Bureaus’ efforts toward engaging their membership and their innovative means of doing so.

Beyond all the tour hosts and expert speakers, Growing Together attendees enjoy ample opportunity to learn from perhaps their most highly esteemed and trusted resources: each other.
 

Farm Bureau members from across the state will converge Feb. 18-20 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids next winter for MFB’s 2022 Growing Together Conference, where the Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders Conference collide!

Open to regular members of all ages, Growing Together focuses on the common ground shared by Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Promotion & Education programs. Attendees will take home new ideas and resources to incorporate into their county programming — everything from reinvigorating youth programming and facilitation tips to human resource applications for your farm business and managing the ups & downs of rural life.

Keynote speaker Bruce Boguski will set the stage with a presentation about how to alter our belief systems and bolster confidence en route to success. Attendees will discover the advantages of a positive attitude and use that knowledge to change frustration and negativity into a ‘can-do’ environment.

Growing Together also offers members opportunities to network during tours, at receptions and during evening entertainment. This year, all Friday tours will converge at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for a private viewing and reception with heavy hors devours. Those looking to keep the evening going can participate in a virtual GooseChase scavenger hunt, completing challenges while enjoying downtown Grand Rapids, complete with prizes for the most points earned!

A pre-dinner reception on the second night will include a county leader reception where county Young Farmer and P&E chairs and co-chairs will be recognized for their leadership. Following that dinner will be an evening of casino fun, where the only required experience will be knowing how to have a fun, laid-back time with friends old and new!

In a new option, 2022 Growing Together attendees can choose between two Friday agendas: the Take Root Farm Succession and Estate Planning Seminar (at a discounted $50 rate) or the customary tour of regional agriculture sites.

Registration will be open Jan. 3-14. Contact your county Farm Bureau to reserve your spot and stay up-to-date at http://www.michfb.com/growingtogether

Farm Bureau members from across the state will converge Feb. 18-20 at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids next winter for MFB’s 2022 Growing Together Conference, where the Voice of Agriculture and Young Farmer Leaders Conference collide!

Coming Events

DateEvents
February2022
Wednesday
2
2022 Council of Presidents Conference
111 W Main St
Midland, MI
This is the annual conference for county Farm Bureau presidents.  The conference provides and opportunity to: * Meet peers from across the state * Help guide new county presidents as they take on their new role * Learn current state and national organization issues and develop leadership skills