FU youth on national councilWhat do fighting off a zombie plague, lobbying Congress for a new farm bill and meeting new people at camp have in common? Cole Musland and Patrick Swift have done all three because of their election to the Farmers Union National Youth Advisory Council.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
What do fighting off a zombie plague, lobbying Congress for a new farm bill and meeting new people at camp have in common?
Cole Musland and Patrick Swift have done all three because of their election to the Farmers Union National Youth Advisory Council.
“I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for Farmers Union,” said Swift, 19, sophomore at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake this year. “You build leadership skills and you’re just better able to communicate with people.”
Swift, the son of John and Julie Grimm, started going to Farmers Union camps when he was in sixth grade, and what began as a punishment for misbehaving became “an amazing experience” everyone should try.
He intends to go into law enforcement, and will receive his associate degree in the subject in May.
Musland, son of Roy and Pam Musland, started attending Farmers Union camps as a third-grader. He is a senior at Jamestown High School and intends to study education in order to become a history teacher.
Both of them were elected to their positions on the Youth Advisory Council, and even being in the running for those spots wasn’t a given and took effort.
Each state has Farmers Union camps, and only with attendance at those camps as well as some classes can students qualify for the NYAC.
They also had to win an election during the All-States Leadership Camp in June. Of the 100 students attending, 30 students ran for the honor, and only six were selected to serve on the NYAC.
As part of the activities at the camp, Musland and Swift had the opportunity to participate in a simulated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outbreak that turned into a zombie epidemic.
“We got to see what it was like to be a CDC agent,” Musland said, noting that the CDC officials who coordinated the mock-contagion were those who would really investigate an actual flu epidemic if it occurred.
They also went hiking, visited some of the sites of Colorado and heard presentations.
In September, the two were part of a delegation to Washington, D.C., where they lobbied congressional officials to pass a farm bill. They participated in a rally that included representatives of 80 different organizations pushing for the bill.
“From my experience, with my group, either (officials were) 100 percent for (a farm bill) or 100 percent against it,” Swift said, noting it was very hard to convince those who were against it. “It was a cool experience, but it was a war all the same.”
For so many farmers to take time out to lobby during the harvest season should have been a sign to Congress of the importance of the farm bill, Swift added.
“I want to believe we made a difference,” Musland said.
The two agreed that the officials did take them seriously in their lobbying efforts.
In early March, the two will join the rest of the NYAC at the National Farmers Union Convention in Springfield, Mass., where they will plan the next Leadership Camp, serve as pages during NFU votes and give speeches to the national body about what Farmers Union and NYAC means to them.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
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