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CCFB News» December 2020

Downwind"The 2020 Obstacle Course"

12/02/2020 @ 8:30 am | By Bob Rohrer CAE, FBCM, Manager

The year 2020 has been described as Groundhog Day, Disaster 911, the Year of the Pivot, the “Swear” year and At Least It’s Over.

I viewed the year 2020 as competing in a marathon “team” obstacle course. There have been so many obstacles; COVID - 19, social unrest and riots, political elections, shelter-at-home, a dragging farm economy, a wave of community needs, desperation and depression, inability to vacation, and new concepts for work and to connecting with family and friends.


We all have faced snares, blind alleys, temptations, pain, progress, setbacks, and hurdles on the course. We are resilient, mostly. Somehow, we have been able to survive and sometimes thrive in this obstacle course competition.


The Rohrer family team has handled this 2020 obstacle course well. I know that our circumstances were greatly simplified by being empty nesters. Sheltering at home, we had no kids to assist with home schooling. We have ample space to work remotely and sufficient bandwidth to handle multiple electronic meetings.


We did pour a great deal of focus during our stay at home time on DIY home projects including refinishing our front concrete/stone steps (87 bags of concrete needed), completely rehabbing our 3-season porch, repairing/re-staining 2 buildings, rebuilding a deck, re- laying a brick patio, and adding insulation to our attic. The best story is probably this one...


My wife and I have grown weary of shivering all winter while wrapped in blankets. Our solution, raise our home’s R-value of insulation in the attic from R- minus 8 to R-35. We bought 45 bags of “shake and rake” insulation which “saved” us the cost and mess of renting an insulation blower.  To access the various areas of the attic, I created from scrap boards and plywood temporary flooring paths across the top of the rafters (which reminded me of an obstacle course) so we would not need to step from rafter board to rafter board to spread the “shake and rake”. I carefully communicated to my wife the importance of carefully placing each foot in the center of the makeshift flooring to prevent stepping through the drywall ceiling into a room below. I provide wise counsel.


After a long afternoon, we were 75% complete shaking and raking. As I retreated from the far corners of the attic, I pulled up the makeshift flooring boards pathway.  As I worked, I mentally celebrated the conclusion of another Rohrer Team DIY project. There is a saying…Pride comes before the Fall.


I lost focus; I became complacent; I failed to watch the placement of my oversized boot. My size 12.5 boot stepped on the edge of a temporary floor board, flipped it up like a teeter totter. My boot, followed by my entire leg, plunged down through the drywall into our home/office ceiling (Jayne’s virtual classroom) below, showering drywall, insulation and dust into the room. I dangled there, left leg caught on the ceiling joists. I was internally screaming at my stupidity, while my wife scrambled towards me, concerned I was injured. Just my pride, Dear!


While my wife went down to the office to clean up my disaster mess, I decided that I had had enough for the day. I began cleaning up the tools in the attic, preparing to shut down. Still angry at my clumsy self, I lost focus; I became complacent; I failed to watch the placement of my oversized boot. My size 12.5 boot stepped on the edge of the temporary floor board, flipping it up like a teeter totter. My boot, followed by my entire leg, plunged down through the drywall next to my previous boot hole into our home/office (Jayne’s virtual classroom) below. Of course, it showered drywall, insulation and dust into the office my lovely wife had just finished cleaning. I dangled there, left leg caught on the ceiling joists, externally screaming at my stupidity. No pride left, Dear!


My wife has not reminded me about my careful lecture regarding where she should put her feet in the attic. I believe she is plotting the perfectly timed opportunity.


Fortunately, I don’t have these type clumsy, destructive stories to tell about the Board of Directors/leadership or your Cook County Farm Bureau staff.


The Farm Bureau Board Leadership team worked through the 2020 obstacle course by quickly learning how to function in an electronic and videoconference world. On the evening of Saturday, March 13th, the Board of Directors held an emergency meeting through a conference call to discuss whether to postpone the 100 year anniversary celebratory event scheduled for March 28th and to consider an emergency contingency outline for office remote work. 100% of the directors participated and comprehensive discussion and debate ensued. That meeting initiated the story of the board taking new approaches to making sound, strategic decisions during these unusual circumstances.


The Farm Bureau Staff team has managed this 2020 obstacle course in a levelheaded, consistent focus, making the best of each situation. The ongoing goal has been to be a faithful partner with all members as we moved through 2020 together.


It remains a great story that your staff has handled the continual transitions, conversions to new approaches to delivery of services, meeting and reacting to conditions nearly seamlessly with flexibility, ingenuity and stick-to-it-ness.

2020 has been a difficult year for many. However, I’m hopeful that we can find ways to be thankful, smile and see the positives that can result through conquering adversity, even this year called “2020- The Obstacle Course”.

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