Lori Carlson has been a member of North Dakota Farmers Union for many years, but it hasn’t been until recently that she became active again.

When Lori and Richard first married, Lori was a youth leader in Stutsman County. They were active for awhile, but with all of life’s demands and raising a family, she didn’t find herself really getting involved until three years ago when she was chosen to attend the National Farmers Union Women’s Conference in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Lori has led a very busy and active life, and when she lost her run for District 29 House, she didn’t shy away from getting involved. The very next day, she attended the Stutsman County annual meeting and was elected to the county board.

“You don’t hide when you lose!” Lori said.

Lori also served on the Policy and Action Committee for two years, was one of the 25 original co-sponsors to bring the corporate farming initiated measure to a vote of the people. In the fall of 2015, she attended the NFU Fly-in to Washington, D.C. In addition to being an incredibly active Farmers Union member, Lori holds a variety of other board and committee positions around the state. She holds positions with the Barnes County North School Board, Barnes County North Education Foundation Board, Southeast Education Cooperative, North Dakota Small Organized Schools, Freedom Resource Center, is president of Stutsman County Township Association, vice president of District 29 Democrats and is the clerk for Winfield Township. And that is just the beginning of the list.

When Lori thinks about role models in her life, she didn’t hesitate to answer, “My mom. She is a strong and independent free thinker who never let roles define her. And also my dad would be the other part of the equation. I am who I am because of my parents.”

Lori’s second-grade teacher also made a huge impression on her and how she looks at leadership roles. “Mrs. Martell just got me!” she said. “She was assertive but gentle, which is almost impossible to do. She spoke to me, and I admired that.”

“You need someone who is decisive yet kind,” Lori said about leadership. “You actually have to be a person who is open to listening because too many people go in with their minds already made up.”

Lori encourages women to become involved. She can’t stress enough how important it is to step up to the plate and take on new challenges. “Just jump!” Lori said, “You have nothing to lose by trying and you have so much to offer. We never give ourselves enough credit for what we have to offer.”

Getting involved in WILD and attending the NFU Women’s Conference three years ago opened Lori’s eyes to how different parts of the country view farming practices in the Midwest. “It fired me up,” Lori said. “Give the hand of friendship. I’m a farmer, you’re a farmer, we need to encompass it all. We need to include everybody in these conversations.”

Lori is looking forward to being with NDFU as the organization moves forward and grows. “Everybody needs to start getting involved,” she said. “By not using our voices, we are allowing people to tell us what to do and to make the rules for us.”

–– Chelsey Jacobson, NDFU