Monroe celebrates legacy of strong leaders

By Hannah Meyers

Pictured (from left): Michigan State Senator Dale Zorn, Gary Charter, MFB At-Large Director Douglas Darling, James VanBuskirk, Paul Marks, Donald Sahloff, Gerald Heck, Richard Kamprath, Gary Drodt, Elgin Darling, Dennis Meyer, Herb Smith, Tom Woelmer, MFB Dist. 3 Director Michael Fusilier, and current Monroe County Farm Bureau President Mark Mathe. (Photo by Roger Bezek)

Farmers in the spring spend their days fixing, planting and tending. The role of a county Farm Bureau president often involves the same. 

They’re needed to help resolve issues at board meetings or local troubles presented by members. They plant ideas and tend to young leaders by serving as a mentor or role model. After a day spent in the truck, tractor or field, they attend board meetings—often with mud still on their boots or sweat still on their brow

But they are there—they show up ready to lead, gavel in hand.

The Local History Team in Monroe County decided to recognize the hard-working individuals who have served as president of the county Farm Bureau. As a part of the yearlong Centennial Celebration, all Monroe County presidents were invited to attend a special Presidents’ Breakfast to be acknowledged for the time and service they’ve committed to their local farming community and the Farm Bureau organization.

Local History Team Chair Mary Webb and her committee led the efforts in planning the event, held April 8 at the Monroe Country Club.

“They’re hard working—it’s a hard job,” Webb said. “Each of them have left their own unique fingerprint on our organization. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

The presidents didn’t get all the kudos of course; each of their wives got a personal thank-you and a corsage.

“We know they aren’t doing it alone,” Webb said. “The wives deserve to be honored and thanked as well for their service.”

Promotion and Education Chair Mary Janssens shared with the group an album she compiled featuring articles and photos from Monroe County Farm Bureau’s long history.

Twelve presidents total attended the breakfast, their terms of service stretching from 1977 to today: Gary Charter, Elgin Darling, Gary Drodt, Gerald Heck, Richard Kamprath, Paul Marks, Mark Mathe, Dennis Meyer, Donald Sahloff, Herb Smith, James VanBuskirk and Tom Woelmer.

Only four living county presidents were unable to attend.

Other special guests included Dist. 17 State Senator Dale Zorn and Michigan Farm Bureau Directors Mike Fusilier and Doug Darling.

Monroe County Farm Bureau’s Local History Team is also planning a centennial farm tour and centennial picnic this summer to continue its 100-year celebration.

Ravenna native Hannah Meyers is MFB’s regional representative in the southeast, working with Farm Bureau members in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.