Friday, February 19, 2016

The Changing Faces of Genex Delegates

Just as the face of agriculture is changing, so too is the Genex delegate demographic. New faces emerge every year, accepting the challenge of learning something new and representing the membership in their area. Being a part of the leadership team for your cooperative allows you to stay abreast of the latest developments, while putting you in contact with others in the industry who may be facing the same experiences as you, and most importantly it allows you to shape the future of YOUR cooperative.

Today I want to introduce you to Alexa Kayhart. She may not be what you think of when you envision a delegate of an agricultural cooperative, but Alexa is exactly what makes cooperative governance so powerful, because of the diversity and perspective she brings to meetings.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your farming/ranching operation.
My name is Alexa Kayhart, I am a fourth generation dairy farmer in the beautiful town of Addison, Vermont, directly on the coast of Lake Champlain. I am 21 years old and a senior in college this year. I am finishing up my final year of school at Vermont Tech where I am studying diversified agriculture and entrepreneurship. My dad and uncle are at home running the farm where we currently milk 800 Holsteins. My plans are to finish up school, travel a bit and work with farmers all over the country before I return home to carry on the next generation of Kayhart Brothers Dairy!

2. Why did you decide to become a delegate?
Honestly? I did it because we needed an individual in our district and had no volunteers. I couldn't be happier that I was presented with the opportunity and only wonder why I didn't get involved earlier! As I sit here in the airport ready to go home from the CRI Annual Meeting, telling my story about being a delegate, I already can't wait for next year's meeting. It's a great opportunity to network and meet farmers from all over the world and
 simultaneously learn about the wonderful co-op we are a part of!

3. What are your duties and responsibilities as a delegate?
As a delegate, it is my main responsibility to relay information between the board of directors and the folks back home whether that be the technicians or other farmers. As a delegate we are expected to attend the annual meeting in Minnesota to participate in decision making and elections of new board members. Being an active delegate means learning about the co-op and helping to make decisions when necessary. We also get the opportunity to learn a lot about our co-op as well as positive ways to effectively promote the dairy industry, which we all know we need more of!

4. What type of time commitment is required of a delegate?
The time commitment isn’t much. We are asked to attend the annual meeting in Minnesota for two days in January and then also attend a regional meeting (only one day) in fall. All of the trips are reimbursed by CRI and the only thing that is asked of us is our presence.

5. As a newer annual meeting attendee, what has caught your attention?
This was my second year serving as a delegate, and I am amazed at how each year I get to meet new people and build off old connections I made the previous year. Everyone in our cooperative is so kind and for the most part there for the same reasons - to meet new people and support their cooperative. It makes good conversations easy to come by!

6. What would you tell someone who may be considering getting involved in the governance of their cooperative?
I couldn't be any fonder of this opportunity. It's a wonderful cooperative, and I've been so lucky to be a delegate for the past two years. The time commitment is minimal, and if you love to meet and network with other farmers from all over the world, this is a great way to do just that. Give it a try for just one year, and I promise you will have a hard time giving your spot to anyone else!

Do you have questions about becoming a delegate? We would be happy to provide more information, or point you to someone you could talk with. Just put your questions in the comments section below.

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