As the wheel of the calendar turns, it's a time for many of those things that are the huge parts of farming that aren't farming. Who first told me that a lot of farming isn't farming? I think someone in NSAS nearly 30 years ago told me so, along with many other pieces of knowledge slung quietly my way when I took time to pay attention, listen and hear what folks far more experienced than I had to say and share. One of my personal parts of paper-work season is memberships, along with as much calendar planning as I can for the next year (think NSAS conference!), as well as reflection backwards and best look forward. As you think about the year to come, I remind and invite you to add in the 2023 NSAS conference -- with lots of workshop sessions and loads of information, but also elements that are key to the intangible part that makes NSAS so compelling–the people, the peer-to-peer learning, the "how are you?" time with friends I see but once a year. Without idealizing NSAS, it is a place where we come together at the table of sustainable agriculture while sharing, exploring, and accepting a broad base of what that means to each of us in idea and practice.
In service of our larger Nebraska sustainable agriculture community, the NSAS board and staff have been working this past year to continue and strengthen our outreach, connections, and the framework and foundation of NSAS. We were thrilled to make connections through field days again and look forward to a growing slate of those opportunities for 2023. In my second tenure on the NSAS board with a large expanse of time between terms, and as board president a second time around as well, I step forward to the greater community with these reflections for you. We all have just a figurative minute with shorter days before we're back outside more, with hopefully "just the right" weather in between now and then, but I do ask for you to consider a few things.
Do you feel called to be of service to sustainable agriculture through a connection with NSAS? Can you renew your membership if it has lapsed or will you join us if you have yet to become a member? Do you have a passion for governance and board work? You can self-nominate to run for the NSAS board, and we have a slate of strong leaders on deck for our annual election cycle, to be held at the annual business meeting on our 2023 Saturday conference day (a small but important part of the conference schedule!). Do you have gifts to share knowledge and experience through mentorship? NSAS is looking at year 2 of our grant work in cooperation with the Center for Rural Affairs and are looking for farmer mentors. Do you have a donor advised (or other) fund where NSAS fits your funding criteria? Donors and donated funds help move NSAS forward with special projects, scholarships, printed materials, sustainable ag outreach, peer-learning, youth education, and more! Your gift is important to the work we do here! Can you share about NSAS with a friend or neighbor and invite them to join in? Do you have a farm tour or other outreach idea that you would like to share for 2023? The board has some fun ideas for connecting beyond conference time and farm tours, though I haven't quite got everyone to agree to a kick-ball game yet.
Is the adage "now more than ever" any less true than 30 or 40 years ago? It is only more true...and we all know it to be so. Our daily work and passions show us this...that's why we're still here. Sustainable agriculture is not a place or even an end-goal, and NSAS can sometimes (like sustainable ag) be abstract...it is not a place, or a moment or a singular experience; but it is what we bring together to create the shared experience and exchange for all of us. It is the space between here and there, between Hartington and Scottsbluff, Holdrege and Ord, between boots and soil, muck and mulch.
Join in through membership, the conference, volunteer opportunities, and your favorite and mine–silent auction time at the conference. Please do, join us. Your participation and membership are truly key.
With respect and appreciation,
Ruth Chantry, NSAS Board President