Through 2018’s director elections, we welcomed two new teammates to GreenStone’s Board of Directors. Starting with a board orientation and moving right into 2019 planning, Mike Timmer and Jed Welder have experienced nearly a year as a director for the cooperative. Like all members, each has their individual story and strengths they bring to our association, and both are focused on providing leadership for a strong and committed future for our GreenStone members.
After graduating from college, I returned to our family’s farm to work with my father. We were milking cows at the time and in 1993 transitioned the livestock portion of our business to raising replacement heifers. We worked closely with GreenStone in those transitional years as it was difficult to make changes and adjust to not having the bi-monthly milk check. That was my first experience working with a lender, and I was impressed by the commitment GreenStone showed helping us through the transition. Although that experience was many years ago, I see GreenStone has this same commitment today.
When I was asked to serve on the board, I wasn’t sure what the business side of the cooperative would look like. I knew it would be my first time serving an organization that works so closely with its members to help them succeed. As a new board member, I have been impressed with the leadership’s efforts to be responsible to the members of the cooperative, while working to meet the needs of each individual, as we all navigate these more difficult times in agriculture. Their constant drive to assess where the cooperative is financially and where things might be headed in the future have motivated me to spend more time looking at my business financial measures and make plans for the coming year.
I have really enjoyed being a part of the board and working with the leaders that make the daily decisions. They work hard to stay ahead of the curve on many fronts, not just financially—we are in good hands as a cooperative.
The most rewarding part of my first year on this board has been the decision to return $82 million back to the members in the form of patronage dividends. This is when the importance of having an efficient cooperative really made an impression on me. I look forward to serving in the coming years, working with fellow board members to find ways to continue the success of the cooperative’s efficiency and individualized service to our members.
Together with my wife, Milka, and my daughter, Daniela, (10 years old and in her third year in the Montcalm County 4-H) and son, Mirko, (5 years old), we farm 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in the sandy loam and pine trees of Sidney, Michigan, northeast of Grand Rapids.
I decided to serve as a board member after testifying in front of the Senate Agriculture Committee on the Farm Credit System. As a new farmer and a veteran, I was able to tell our story in Washington, D.C. of how GreenStone helped my family get our start in farming. Having met board members then, and now serving with them, I appreciate the incredible range of knowledge and experience they each bring to the board; I hope my background as a veteran will bring a new perspective to our role in guiding the association into the next 100 years.
Even now that I have been on the board for awhile, I find myself continually surprised by how much knowledge I gain from each board meeting and training session I attend. It is an honor to interact with both the board members and the executive team and see how seriously they take the strength and future of our cooperative. Each decision that is discussed in the board room comes from the standpoint of how can we continue our strong position to do what is best for our members. The range of farming operations and backgrounds represented on the GreeStone board helps us to learn from each other - the challenges we each face in different parts of Michigan and Wisconsin helps us be better at what we do, both on the farm and in the boardroom.
Being proactive has been an attribute of successful organizations I have been a part of, it fills me with a great deal of confidence to see how proactive our organization is in planning for both challenges and opportunities as we move ahead.
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