Coxbill looks forward to YF&R opportunitiesWritten by Natasha Wheeler
The new Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) state chair is looking forward to the opportunity to be an active voice for agriculture and Wyoming.
“It is a great honor and responsibility,” states Cole Coxbill, referring to his new one-year leadership term. “There is a great growing experience ahead.”
Cole and his wife Sammie have also been appointed to one of 16 positions on the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) YF&R committee. Coxbill explains that he and his wife are excited about learning and growing as advocates for agriculture.
“As a young kid, I was involved in 4-H and FFA in Wyoming,” comments Coxbill, saying that he chose not to run for State FFA President in high school.
“I kicked myself for that, but this opportunity arose, and we were selected. We are honored and humbled,” he says.
Since Christmas, Coxbill has been an agent with WyFB, traveling to meetings and conferences throughout the country.
“Every time we talk to people, it’s endless learning. Everyone has a different perspective,” he notes.
Coxbill was also selected to be on the AFBF Advisory Committee for Irrigation, which recently took him to Washington, D.C.
“I got to talk to gentlemen from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, where they get too much water,” he explains.
It was quite a contrast to how water is discussed in dry, western states such as Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
“Water is such a unique topic, because each state has different laws, and they all treat water differently,” he comments.
The irrigation committee meets four times a year to discuss water issues throughout the country.
“We are tasked to share the issues that we see as the most important and help keep the government headed in the right direction,” Coxbill states.
Nearly 500 members attended the latest conference in Washington, D.C.
“We all went to Capitol Hill, and it was really neat to go to our delegation’s offices as AFBF members,” he notes.
As an organization, the AFBF promotes policy that comes from growers and producers, shared through the local, state and national levels.
“All of our policy comes from producing farms and ranches across the nation,” explains Coxbill.
In the 1940s, WyFB saw an opportunity for insurance, which is a flourishing business today.
Although many people think of the insurance company, WyFB is a membership organization that promotes the interests of agriculture in American policy.
“We are a true grassroots organization,” he states.
Another activity that Coxbill has recently been involved in is the Farm Bureau discussion meet.
“The discussion meet is a committee meeting,” he explains, noting that the event is not a debate. “The discussion meet is more like sitting around the table with cups of coffee and adding to the conversation.”
Participants in the meet are provided with five discussion topics before the competition, and one of the topics is chosen when the meet begins.
“The group talks about the issue on both sides, working to come up with a solution,” he says.
Each competitor must make a 30-second opening statement, and then there are 20 minutes of open discussion and a multiple round.
“Then each contestant gives a one-minute closing statement,” he comments.
Judging is based on the quality of information, how well participants work together and the group’s ability to involve more reserved speakers.
“It is not just based on who is the most well-spoken or who is driving the conversation,” he says.
There is both a collegiate level competition for college students, as well as a YF&R level, for participants between the ages of 18 and 35.
“The collegiate discussion meet is really growing in Wyoming,” he notes.
Meeting at the school with the most participation, this year’s meet was held at Sheridan College, where the WyFB Annual Meeting was also being held.
“We wouldn’t have been able to accommodate everyone without partnering with the annual meeting,” he comments, adding that they were lucky to be able to work together.
“We had 29 contestants signed up, and then we had a big snowstorm, but 16 of them still showed up,” he says.
More Wyoming participation is encouraged at the YF&R level of the discussion meet.
“We are going to work on that and see what we can do to improve participation in the future,” he explains.
Winners of the national round take home scholarships and a new pickup truck.
“I always look forward to meeting new people and growing as an advocate for ag,” Coxbill comments of his experience so far.
Although he recognizes the challenge of taking time away from his operation and his three children, he looks forward to filling his new role.
“We have to get off the farm and be more diligent about addressing wrong information and bad policy,” he says.
Agriculture is shared most accurately by those who are directly involved and who understand how different pieces are integrated.
“It is important for all agriculturalists to speak up. We have to tell our story or someone else is going to,” he states.