Whether you are an Iowa farmer growing corn, a backyard gardener tending to tomatoes or an apartment dweller with a house plant, every caretaker knows strong roots are essential for their plants to thrive. With mixed results, I’ve cared for plants and flowers around my house and grown a variety of vegetables, and I quickly learned the importance of solid roots if I wanted my plants to survive. 

Roots serve as the anchor that hold a plant in place, but more importantly, they are the lifeline of the plant, taking up the air, water and nutrients from the soil and moving them throughout the plant promoting development and growth. 

Members from each of Iowa’s 100 county Farm Bureaus (Pottawattamie has two county Farm Bureaus) are the roots of the Iowa Farm Bureau. They are the reason for the success of their century strong organization which touches every community in Iowa. Much like a plant’s roots facilitating its growth, I am always impressed by county Farm Bureau members who guide and grow the organization while advancing Iowa agriculture. 

A grassroots movement or organization is defined by a bottom-up approach, with direction coming from a local level. The grassroots philosophy is much different than a traditional top-down leadership structure, much like what’s standard in the corporate world, where a chief executive serves as the ultimate authority and decision maker. While Iowa Farm Bureau has a president and board of directors whose leadership and vision guides the organization, true to its grassroots, the president is elected by delegates representing the counties.

The grassroots foundation that defines the Iowa Farm Bureau was on display earlier this month during the annual Summer Policy Conference.  Delegates from around the state gathered to discuss and debate policy to guide the organization’s efforts in the coming year. As a general farm organization, the depth of discussion and consideration from a diverse membership was truly remarkable – the delegates brought forward the issues of their home counties. I appreciated the process and thoughtful consideration the delegates gave to every issue discussed – something I think we all can learn from. 

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is collaborating with members. I’ve always been impressed with their knowledge and passion for agriculture. However, witnessing the growth and development of new leaders during the conference as they found their voice reinforced that the organization is in good hands. As members climb the ranks on their county boards gaining knowledge and experience on their ascension to voting delegate, their roots are spreading and growing, helping to develop new leaders. Former Young Farmer Committee members who served on the resolutions committee showed the breadth of Farm Bureau’s roots that are integral to future growth. 

With plants and trees, we see what is growing just above the surface. However, if you see the deep roots of a plant or tree and understand all its functions, you can truly appreciate the importance and significance of strong roots. The same is true for Farm Bureau. When you see Iowa Farm Bureau as the title sponsor of boys’ and girls’ high school athletic championships, visit Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair or hear about a legislative priority achievement, just know that below the surface, the members – the grassroots of Farm Bureau - play an essential role in the growth and development of the organization and in moving Iowa agriculture forward.  

Andrew Wheeler is Iowa Farm Bureau's Public Relations Manager.

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