This is bound to be a lengthy post, so feel free to just scan through the photos for a glimpse of a cool part of America you've probably never seen—or even considered as a destination!
As I mentioned in a post last week, our family recently traveled to Bayfield, Wisconsin to attend a training event sponsored by Farmer's Union Enterprises (FUE).
FUE is a division of Farmer's Union that includes five states: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. What started as a collaboration to start a business to benefit the local farmers eventually grew into several businesses, all in the agricultural industry. You can read more about the businesses they own here. They are also behind a restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area that serves farm-to-table food directly from farms in our 5-state area. How cool is that?
As for how we got involved, this is an excerpt from North Dakota's website about the program.
Farmers Union Enterprises has a program for couples in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota in which each state selects one "Couple of the Year." The participating couple receives hands-on training on issues important to National Farmers Union such as advocacy leadership, becoming good communicators, NFU involvement and how to coordinate a meeting.
Tom and I weren't members of Farmers Union and weren't very familiar with their policies. However, we had fortune of meeting the previous year's couple at a Couple's Ag Conference we attended last year. We somehow made enough of an impression on them that they recommended us for this program as the 2014-2015 couple from Montana. What an amazing opportunity—so we jumped on it.
Our first event took us to Wisconsin, which crosses a new state off my list. We were invited to bring our families for this event, and we gathered with both the outgoing and incoming couples from each state. We had a day of training (overlooking the beautiful Lake Superior) and then were able to meet and visit with the presidents of Farmer's Union in each state.
Future events will take us to our Montana State Farmer's Union convention in October, the National Convention in Witchita, KS next March, and another family gathering with the new incoming couples in the Black Hills next summer. And the cherry on top—next year we will fly to D.C. and meet with the Committee leaders who influence our farm legislation. We are beyond excited for this educational opportunity.
But back to our trip.
We flew into Minneapolis, rented a car, and drove the 4-1/2 hours north to Bayfield. Bayfield lies right shores of Lake Superior. Our first glimpse of this massive lake was cresting over the hill into Duluth.
We stayed in the charming Bayfield Inn right on the waterfront, and immediately stretched our legs wandering along the shore and taking photos.
We drove through some beautiful Wisconsin farm land on our way back to Minneapolis. I didn't get many photos of our time there, but we had an awesome night with some old friends and enjoyed their new pool. The next morning we met up with more friends and had a quick trip to the Mall of America before we had to head to the airport.
Harvest was just getting rolling before we left, so we couldn't tarry. We definitely hit the ground running when we landed at home!