Farm Bureau Directors Ready to Help Forge a Bright Future for Arizona Agriculture

Arizona Farm Bureau Staff Reports: Arizona Farm Bureau announces changes in its director-level positions: government relations, communication & organization and agriculture education. This rollout of new people and structure under the new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Joe Sigg, is meant to move the organization forward and continue positioning Arizona Farm Bureau as a leading advocate for Arizona agriculture.

 Said CAO Sigg, “Chelsea McGuire, Julie Murphree and Katie Aikins are individuals shaped by agriculture.”

Directors of Agriculture Education, Communication & Organization and Agriculture Education, Katie Aikins (Left), Julie Murphree and Chelsea McGuire intend to help successfully drive the key programming of Arizona Farm Bureau.

Government Relations Director

Attorney and Arizona-native Chelsea McGuire joins Arizona Farm Bureau as the new Government Relations Director, replacing Joseph Sigg who now serves as Arizona Farm Bureau’s Chief Administrative Officer. In her role, McGuire will lead all government relations and policy functions.

Born and raised on her family’s farm in Pinal County, McGuire’s hands-on experience raising county fair animals to operating her own small farm helped ignite a passion for the food and fiber industry.

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Economics, McGuire obtained her law degree from Regent University School of Law. After passing the Arizona Bar Exam, McGuire has spent the last three years clerking on the Arizona Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

“It is with immense gratitude and excitement that I join the Arizona Farm Bureau government relations team,” said McGuire. “Advocating for Arizona agriculture is both a privilege and a great responsibility, and I look forward to helping ensure that key decision makers hear our industry's voice.”

McGuire added about the future, “From weather and water to crop prices and pests, agriculture is a business driven by factors outside of our control. Over the next twelve months, I want to convince our members that politics doesn’t have to be one of those factors out of our control. Just as you work hard every day to produce our nation's food and fiber, our government relations team is working hard to make sure you have the freedom to do so without undue regulatory or political burdens. We're here to be your voice to decision makers across our state and nation -- and we'll make sure they hear you loud and clear!”

Communication and Organization Director

In December, supply-chain media specialist and Pinal County farm kid Julie Murphree had Organization added to her plate and is now Communication and Organization Director for Arizona Farm Bureau. In her expanded role, Murphree spearheads all outreach for the organization including supporting Farm Bureau county leadership. This includes creating programs that support and help grow the county Farm Bureau structure.

Prior to Farm Bureau, as president of Julie Murphree LLC, Murphree supported several clients with their content development, public relations and marketing requirements.

Earlier, as vice president of AberdeenAccess for the Boston-based research firm Aberdeen, Murphree developed a digital-based outreach platform on behalf of the firm’s customers. Having extensive experience in facilitative management, She managed, coordinated and drove a national peer-to-peer community of executive-level professionals on behalf of the purchasing and supply chain management profession. She also managed a 6-member team based in Alabama while she lived in Arizona. And, over the course of her career she's run the editorial side of two national business-to-business magazines specializing in supply chain management.Murphree holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Arizona State University in addition to an executive management certificate in strategic sourcing and supply chain management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A native of Arizona, Murphree grew up on a cotton and alfalfa farm, also in Pinal County. She partnered with her family in farming through 2005. She is Project CENTRL Alum, Class VII.

“Our people are our most important asset to this advocacy organization,” said Murphree. “I have a passion for supporting our Farm Bureau farm and ranch leaders and all stakeholders, including those representing the general public. In fact, communication and organization are a great fit as it is all about outreach and serving others. I also have a passion for creating high-performing teams, and with the right fundamentals in place for individuals to grow, this can happen.”

Specifically for the next 12 months, her team made up of Field Managers Amber Morin and Christy Davis and Ana Kennedy Otto (who is also Government Relations Manager) and Marketing Manager Peggy Jo Goodfellow, will concentrate on “Issues and policy support in the counties” and more issues-specific outreach to the public. “We’re hoping to link the agriculture issues and policy we care about in the counties driven by our Farm Bureau leaders with our public outreach we do with Arizona families,” said Murphree. “Arizona agriculture and the farms and ranches and dairies it represents is our laser focus.”

Agriculture Education Director

Also in December, Katie Aikins was promoted to Director of Agriculture Education. In this role, Aikins performs the educational functions of the Farm Bureau that contributes to an increase in agriculture awareness in the K-12 classroom and beyond. This includes the development of new curriculum and programs that engage the public on hot-button issues in agriculture. Having always specialized in agricultural education, Aikins last worked as the Director of Agriculture in the Classroom and Public Relations for the Cook County Farm Bureau.

Aikins holds a Master’s of Science in Agricultural Education from the University of Arizona. She has worked in both the classroom and research side of agricultural literacy. Her Thesis Project entitled “The Academic Impact of Summer Ag Institute on Test Scores of 3rd and 5th Grade Students in the Gilbert Unified School District,” allowed Aikins to work with teachers and discover what is important when selecting curriculum to use in their classrooms. She is also a graduate of Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT), an extensive leadership development program designed to give agriculture’s current and emerging leaders a head start on tackling tomorrow’s responsibilities.

Also a native of Arizona, Aikins grew up in Gilbert in the equine industry.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to grow Arizona Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Program through development of new programs and materials that will provide consumers with accurate information about where their food is coming from and show them the care that is put into providing their families with quality food and fiber.” Said Aikins. “Consumers are inundated with information about their food. They are told what to think. We want to show them and let them make their own decisions.”

Aikins’ take on the next 12 months involves expansion on programming. “I am encouraged by the increasing number of opportunities and programs that AITC is participating in and administering to educate the consumer about our amazing industry,” added Aikins. “These opportunities are only possible because of the amazing partners we work with in Arizona agriculture. This next year I am very excited to see the growth and impact from our partnership with Hickman’s Family Farms with the From Farm to Football Program. We are anxious to get the 2017 Program underway. Our goal is to get every student in Arizona to raise a penny to fight hunger through the From Farm to Football Penny Drive. This program has a unique opportunity to reach students with the message of Arizona agriculture and make a positive impact in communities across the state. Programs like these make me excited about the future of AITC.”

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