The Future of Farming: A Volunteer Spotlight with Brynna Bode
Farming might just be in Brynna Bode's blood. Since the 1600s, her family has farmed land and animals in Southern Maryland, and she is no different. Raising and showing cattle and sheep through 4-H at the Charles County Fair and Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, she has experienced the joys and challenges of raising livestock and has shared her passion and love for animals with others.
A youth volunteer for the Accokeek Foundation and an active member of 4-H, she has taken the stage to help educate other youth about farming and the value of agricultural experiences, particularly the impact of agriculture throughout the history of Maryland. People shaping the land, the land shaping the people, and all that lies in between. You may recall her in her mob cap on the colonial site, interpreting a historical farm child from 1770, or in the mobile chicken coop in our barnyard educating about poultry during our annual Lattes with Lambs event. Perhaps you've even seen her show animals at the Charles County Fair or heard her speak during 4-H events.
Most recently, Brynna was named Miss Charles County Farm Bureau, an honor and title that extends further than just a scholarship and pageant award. Traditionally, Miss Charles County Farm Bureau is an ambassador for the Farm Bureau and agriculture in Charles County. To participate, young ladies must apply, and their parents must be members of the Farm Bureau. Then, at the annual Farm Bureau Banquet, the contestants participate in an interview about their involvement in agriculture with a small panel of judges before the banquet. In front of the membership at the banquet, each contestant delivers a prepared introduction speech and answers a fishbowl question related to current issues in agriculture. The winner receives a $300 scholarship and represents Charles County at the Miss Maryland Agriculture Contest, which is usually held at the Maryland State Fair. Miss Maryland Agriculture receives $8000, and Brynna received $1500 for being the first runner up.
With state and county fair cancellations this year and statewide health guidelines, all interviews and award ceremonies were done virtually. Usually, Miss Charles County Farm Bureau represents the Farm Bureau at the Charles County fair as a contestant in the Queen Nicotina contest and also helping in the show ring—handing out ribbons and such—but this year has been different for all award winners. As Miss Charles County Farm Bureau, she should be doing things like agriculture in the classroom lessons at schools and meeting with elected officials along with Farm Bureau leadership, but, unfortunately, because of the pandemic, most of those activities have been canceled. To this day, she has met with the Lieutenant Governor at Hancock Family Farm and toured a few farms with Maryland Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee, discussing agricultural products and sharing her passion for farming.
I had the honor and pleasure of sitting down with Brynna on December 3rd via Zoom to talk about her experiences in agriculture growing up, her time volunteering here at the Accokeek Foundation, and what the future may hold for her.
In a world where concrete jungles outnumber farms, where people can no longer trace the food they eat back to the farm it comes from, and where the career of 'farmer' is no longer viewed as desirable to most, we need youth like Brynna to stand up and speak out about the importance of farming and the role it plays in each of our lives. In every respect, farms such as ours rely on future farmers like her to passionately educate others about the value of meaningful agricultural experiences for all ages. We look forward to hearing about the difference Brynna will make through this honorable responsibility of Miss Charles County Farm Bureau, and beyond. Congratulations, Brynna, and keep up the great work!