Lifelong Butler County resident Steve Fuxa is one of 11 Nebraska farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals to have been selected for the Nebraska Farm Bureau's 2022 Leadership Academy.
The academy will take place over the course of a year and kicks off in person in Kearney on Jan. 20.
"Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership development, understanding the county, state, and national structure of Farm Bureau and its grassroots network, policy work on agricultural issues, and the importance of agricultural literacy," a Dec. 7 Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) press release said.
Fuxa is a member of the Butler County Ag Society Board and operates Railside Farms, a diversified farm and livestock operation.
Fuxa said it will be his first time participating in something like this within the farm bureau, but he has been involved in another leadership program, specifically the Nebraska Soybean Growers Young Leader program 25 or 30 years ago.
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Fuxa has been a member of the Butler County Farm Bureau for about eight years.
"I originally joined to get health insurance, but have observed how involved the Farm Bureau is in policy making and have an interest in participating in that aspect of the Farm Bureau," Fuxa said. "...I felt that attending the leadership academy would be a good way to better understand how the Farm Bureau functions."
The NEFB is the Nebraska arm of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The NEFB and Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation supports ag education and outreach, local county events, county fair activities, 4-H clubs, FFA chapters and local food pantries. NEFB members may also be eligible for various benefits and health insurance.
The NEFB and American Farm Bureau Federation also do a lot of advocacy work on ag-related issues, including rural broadband, property taxes and market growth and development.
Fuxa said he hopes the leadership academy will give him a better understanding of how ag policy is developed.
"I was interested in getting involved with the Farm Bureau to have a voice in shaping farm policy on a state and national level," Fuxa said.
He should have chances to do that, since the leadership academy group is set to travel to Lincoln and Washington, D.C. for visits with elected officials.
"The goal of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy is to cultivate the talents and strengths of our members and connect their passion for agriculture to opportunities of service within the Farm Bureau organization. Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose, purpose fuels passion and work ethic. By developing leadership skills, academy members can develop their passions and positively impact their local communities and the state of Nebraska," 2022 Leadership Academy Facilitator Phil Erdman said in a Dec. 7 Nebraska Farm Bureau press release.
Erdman is also the NEFB's vice president of membership. He and NEFB Director of Generational Engagement Audrey Schipporeit will help facilitate the academy.
"We congratulate this group of diverse individuals and thank them for their willingness to step out of their comfort zone to learn more about how they can influence their community, state, and world for the better," Schipporeit said in the Dec. 7 press release.
Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at email@example.com.