Knoxville — Two terms as president of the Knoxville FFA were just the beginning of Chasen Stevenson's agricultural leadership. Today, he and his wife, Justine, serve on the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmers Advisory Committee.
The role of the committee is to provide direction from young farmers to the Iowa Farm Bureau. Chasen has served on the Marion County Farm Bureau Board since 2010, after accepting an invitation from Larry Rowley. Chasen is the County Board's vice president this year.
Chasen is a 2006 Knoxville High School graduate who went on to earn a BA in Ag Studies from Iowa State University in 2010. Today, he farms with his father, Rick, and is also a seed dealer for Kruger Seeds (formerly Fontanelle). He and Justine have been married since 2012. Justine works for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association.
The Stevensons learned of the committee through a Young Farmers' Conference. They took part in an ag leadership class, where they learned how to enhance leadership, communication skills, the development of policy and the Farm Bureau's role in developing policy. They were with 24 others in this class, which led to the decision to join the committee.
There are nine districts in the state for Farm Bureau. Marion County is in District 8. The Stevensons submitted their names and were selected.
Committee meetings often entail sharing ideas and organizing a conference. Chasen said it is a good opportunity to discuss the issues facing young farmers today.
The committee is expected to organize goals and activities for young farmers in the district. Chasen is wroking on a summer golf outing within the district.
One of the purposes of the activity is to have a good time while networking with other young farmers. A young farmers' conference is coming up Jan. 24-25 in Des Moines. Chasen is glad to be working with many other farmers.
"I feel proud to be able to work with the people of Farm Bureau, young farmers and people of agriculture," Chsen said.
Starting a farm can be a challenge for young people, and according to Chasen, most young farmers are following previous generations into the industry. There are programs available to help young farmers who want to get started as well.
Enthusiasm among young farmers is growing, Chasen said. Conferences have grown and seen increased attendance. Iowa State University's enrollment in ag programs has been on the rise.
A lot of passion exists for farming, and most young people are sticking to the traditional corn, beans and livestock operations. There are those in the agricultural field who have found a niche in other ag-based products. The biggest challenge to any farmer is having the cash flow to make an operation work.
Younger generations are "stepping up," according to Chasen. Opportunities to purchase Iowa's land from older owners are also expanding, he added.