Leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers program recently gave a hand up to families and veterans living in their cars and in parks in Oregon in the form of backpacks with food and supplies.

In Portland for their fall meeting, the national committee leaders partnered with Easterseals Oregon, an organization that serves children and adults with disabilities, veterans and mature job seekers. Easterseals Oregon's vision is to create and deliver disability services and workforce development and housing programs that result in 100% included and empowered community participants.

Through a grant from Americares, Easterseals Oregon was able to partner with the Young Farmers & Ranchers committee to fill 250 drawstring backpacks with high protein snacks including tuna fish, granola bars, beef jerky, peanut butter, pepperoni sticks, cheese and crackers and more. The bags will be distributed to homeless men, women and children in the Salem, Oregon, area throughout the month of November.

“We are so grateful for the YF&R team. With smiles on their faces and lots of energy, they jumped right in and filled all 250 bags in less than 90 minutes. Wow!” said Pam Moreland, executive administrative assistant at Easterseals Oregon. “The 90 minutes this group spent filling the bags will make an incredible impact on the homeless community in Salem.”

YF&R Committee members make tie blankets for the homeless.   Credit: AFBF

The YF&R Committee members embrace every chance they get to share their time, energy and resources to help others, explained YF&R Vice Chair Jocelyn Anderson, a California farmer.

“Giving back to local communities is extremely important to YF&R. As strong leaders, we make a point to donate our time to help others who are in need. YF&R is thankful for the opportunities we have been given and make sure to show our gratitude through community service,” Anderson said.

Also this fall, during a gathering in California, retired YF&R Committee leaders participated in a morning of community service that included making and donating tie blankets and providing socks to a homeless shelter, delivering lunch to staff at a nursing home, creating four boxes of school supplies for teachers and writing thank you notes to veterans.

“Farm Bureau is always giving back to the community and that doesn’t stop when we leave our farms. At every AFBF YF&R event we find a way to give back to the community that we are visiting. This is why I am proud to be a member of Farm Bureau because our strength as an organization comes from building strong communities,” said Greg Corcoran of Ohio, 2020-2021 YF&R vice chair.

Members of the group also decorated lunch bags to be donated to Meals on Wheels and made and delivered “acts of kindness/thanks for all you do” bags to San Diego residents.

Many YF&R members, like Morgan Norris from Florida, chair of the 2020-2021 committee, are grateful for the opportunities to give back beyond their communities.

2020-2021 YF&R Committee members gathered school supplies for teachers at their fall meeting in San Diego.   Credit: AFBF

“There is nothing better than being able to give back and bless others; and when our YF&R committee can take that giving spirit ‘on the road,’ it brings meaningful memories to our meetings. The YF&R program sees the importance in making an impact on the communities we visit for meetings and conferences, and we feel that blessing others in need is an important legacy. Whether we are making blankets for homeless shelters, donating food to health care workers or sending classroom packages to teachers, it’s a small way we can say thank you, we see you and we care about your community,” Norris said.

The American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers program includes men and women between the ages of 18-35. The objective of the Young Farmers & Ranchers program is to surface and develop young Farm Bureau members and provide them opportunities and experiences to strengthen their leadership and ensure effective Farm Bureaus.

One of the YF&R’s signature programs is Harvest for All. Through Harvest for All, a year-round program launched in 2002, Farm Bureau members have gathered 376 million pounds of food, logged more than 215,000 volunteer hours and raised $9.8 million in donations.