A “city slicker” with an appreciation for ag

by Darlene Thomason, NDFB Member Services/Office Coordinator

Thirty years ago, I was a naive new North Dakota Farm Bureau employee who knew that eggs came from chickens, milk came from dairy cows and crops needed rain and sun to grow. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had no idea what farming and ranching was really about.

Yep, I’m a “city slicker.”

I did learn a little more when I married a guy who worked and farmed for a seed farmer in Forman, N.D.  Being a newlywed in a small town and not knowing anyone, I spent many evenings alone. That is when I realized how much time farmers and ranchers really had to put into their livelihood to help keep us all clothed, fed and in business.

But it seems there is always more to learn. For instance, I was in a conversation with some co-workers talking about drain tiling and dryers, I’m thinking to myself, “They can’t mean actual tiles (like the tiles on your bathroom wall) in fields and dryers (like the ones in our houses) to dry wheat! That’s just crazy!” All kinds of thoughts were going through my head trying to figure out how it all works until finally one day I built up enough courage to ask the one person I’m most comfortable asking these “dumb” questions I have about agriculture; my boss, Jeffrey Missling. He chuckled a little but was more than happy to explain the process too me. Believe me, he’s had many chuckles with all the questions I have walked into to his office with through the years.

Jeffrey presents me with flowers at the 2004 NDFB Annual Meeting

One part of my job for the past 20 years has been to coordinate the NDFB State Annual Meeting. It’s a great joy to listen to the many conversations I’ve heard throughout the years. (Now you know, Jeffrey, where I come up with some of my questions!)

The annual meeting is a time where members get together to discuss and vote on policies that will lead the organization. That’s the serious part, but it’s also the time where chitter chatter leads to laughter and smiles. Old friends get a chance to get caught up and new friends are made.

After each annual meeting I reflect on what I saw and heard. If I see pearly whites through smiles and hear loud laughter, it’s a good annual meeting.

The two questions I’m often asked about coordinating an annual meeting are “What’s the most difficult part?” and “What is the most rewarding?”

The difficult parts are satisfying everyone. I know this is impossible, but it weighs on my mind every annual meeting. I just want to see everyone happy. You folks deserve to enjoy your time at annual meeting.  The meal counts are no picnic either. You want to make sure everyone gets enough food, yet I hate to see an overabundance of food go to waste. 

Former NDFB employee Gail Bakko and I mug for the camera at a conference.

The most rewarding parts are seeing the camaraderie between old and new friends, the smiles, the laughter and I can’t leave out the HUGS!    

I am so blessed to work with great people and an organization that has taught me so much about an industry that I had no idea was one of the toughest, biggest gambles in life, but the most gratifying!

Thank you to all our farmers and ranchers. You deserve God’s blessing for what you do!

God bless our farmers, ranchers and America!     

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