Members of the Young Farmers & Ranchers enjoying a meal at Woolgrowers during the Basque Crawl in January. (Photo: Christine Johnson/YF&R)

 By Christine Johnson, Chair, Young Farmers & Ranchers 

The Young Farmers & Ranchers group began the year with our annual Basque Crawl in January. While in recent years, we tend to park rather than crawl, this is always one of our most well-attended socials of the year. We met at Woolgrowers and saw a lot of new faces. It was also great to reconnect with folks we hadn’t seen in a while. The Basque family-style meal is always a hit and reminds me of the way that Bakersfield truly feels like a small town with a family-friendly atmosphere. Have you ever noticed that when you eat dinner out on Friday night in Bakersfield, you always run into someone you know?  

After dinner, our meeting recapped some recent events, and we were able to secure some volunteers for our upcoming Clay Shoot fundraiser. Additionally, we focused on two of my goals for this year: encouraging attendees to become Farm Bureau members and strengthening our partnerships with local colleges. Becoming a Farm Bureau member offers benefits such as discounts to supply stores and newsletter updates from the California Farm Bureau with topics including legislation and news. There are two membership options for young professionals in agriculture. Those who are in college (age 16 – 25) and studying an ag-related major can sign up for a $25 annual membership. Anyone else within the 18 – 35 age range can purchase an annual membership for $105. Some within our group ask their employer to sponsor them, knowing that this is a wonderful professional development opportunity. While we do not require membership for our group, we hope that everyone sees the value in supporting the organization. On a local chapter level, we wanted to implement some benefits of our own, so a few of our socials this year will offer a reduced price for Farm Bureau members. Similar to past years, we plan to help cover the cost for Farm Bureau members within our group who attend the annual state-wide meeting in December.  

In January, we participated in the Cal State Bakersfield Ag Night and co-sponsored the men’s and women’s basketball games with the Farm Bureau. This is yet another way for us to support the agriculture efforts in our community. Go Runners! If you are interested in joining our group or are a college student studying agriculture, please reach out to me personally. I would love to brainstorm ways that we could be more involved in local college campuses.  

In February, we toured the Regional Occupational Center (ROC), where YF&R member Tim Collins teaches diesel mechanics. The school offers various career and technical training programs for high schoolers, including livestock management, metal fabrication, construction, culinary arts, and drone operation. Students obtain college credit, plus the added benefit of real-life experiences. ROC is an amazing resource, especially for agriculture operators looking to hire young talent. This little-known gem of Bakersfield certainly deserves some attention, so we were grateful for the tour opportunity.  

By the time this article is printed, YF&R will have had our second social for the year – a Condors hockey game. Our group reserved an ice-front suite to enjoy a popular Bakersfield tradition. Go Condors! 

Finally, we are anticipating our 4th Annual Clay Shoot coming up on March 16th at Five Dogs Range. This fundraiser helps sponsor YF&R events and enables us to give several thousand dollars every year toward student agriculture scholarships. This is one of my favorite YF&R events to volunteer at — the drive up to Woody is beautiful in March and participants are always enthusiastic. I’m usually the one running around taking photos to document the teams and sponsorship signs.  

This fundraiser would not be possible without our sponsors! It is amazing to see the community’s support of our efforts and we are humbled by the generous donations. Sponsors can choose between a station or meal/drink sponsorship. And don’t forget the raffle items! Last year we had over sixteen raffle baskets, in addition to a special gun raffle. From local brewery merchandise to cookie baskets to nut assortments to gift cards, you’re sure to find something of interest at our raffle. Even if you’re unable to participate, please consider donating a raffle basket.  

We anticipate another successful Clay Shoot and hope you can join in some way. Please reach out to our group to find out more, or see the links included on our website and shown below.  

Clay Shoot tickets and sponsorship information can be found at https://kernyfr.square.site   

Email: KernYFR@KernCFB.com 

Instagram: @Kern_YFR 

Facebook: KernCountyYoungFarmersAndRanchers 

Previous articleAs Organic Sector Thrives, Research Seeks to Catch Up 
Next articleKCFB:Executive Director’s Report