Randy and Valerie Ryberg (back left) of Menoken are NDFU’s FUE couple. Pictured with the couple is their son Christian (top right), son Lucas (bottom left), daughters Claire (bottom middle) and Hanna. Submitted photo

The Farmers Union Enterprises Leadership Couples Program is underway, and North Dakota Farmers Union has selected Valerie and Randy Ryberg of Menoken as its representative.

Strong family farmers, the Rybergs continue to work land that has been in the family for a century. The couple has four children: Christian (20 years old), Claire (16), Hannah (10) and Lucas (6).

After high school, Randy enlisted into the Army and was deployed in Operation Desert Storm. When he returned, he finished college and took over the family farm.

His wife, Valerie, is a Beulah graduate and joined Randy on the family farm where they have made their life together for the past 19 years. Valerie works as a nurse in Bismarck.

The Rybergs raise wheat, corn and soybeans, and also have cattle.

The FUE leadership program is a 15-month intensive course that broadens understanding of Farmers Union, cooperatives and agriculture. The program is designed to enhance participants’ leadership skills and knowledge, so they can become strong advocates in their communities and in Farmers Union.

For Valerie, she’s hoping to improve her ability to speak to larger audiences.

“I think it’s going to help with public speaking,” she said. “I hate public speaking. As a nurse, I can teach one-on-one. But getting in front of a ton of people – no.”

FUE is a joint effort among NDFU, South Dakota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union and Wisconsin Farmers Union.

One couple is selected from each state and attendance at five main events is mandatory. The first event was June 21-24 at Grouse Mt. Lodge in Whitefish, Mont. The Wisconsin Farmers Union convention is also on the list, set for Feb. 2-4 of next year, as is the National Farmers Union convention in Kansas City, Mo., which is March 3-6. Ryberg said they will also be attending Farmers Union state conventions in North Dakota and Minnesota.

A date is also scheduled for South Dakota in June 2018, and the couples will cap the program with a legislative fly-in in September 2018.

“I’m looking forward to next year’s fly-in,” Valerie said. “Randy won’t be able to go, but I’ll take my oldest daughter (Claire). She’s in FFA — she’s interested in taking Dad’s place.”

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU