Some of the busiest people I know are Missouri farmers and ranchers. In between commitments and volunteering, like attending local school board meetings or being active in a county Farm Bureau, they find time to raise crops and livestock to pay the bills and keep the lights on.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital with more than 70 of these busy people, Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) members who took the time to learn about agriculture issues and the people and policies that shape those issues. One of the functions of Missouri Farm Bureau is to be a voice for farmers, ranchers and rural Missouri in this process that often takes place in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., many miles from their farms and homes.

For me, this is not my first trip to Washington, but each visit has been inspiring. On a night tour, in the lamplight glow, the Lincoln Memorial is larger than life, literally and figuratively. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the Wall), the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the National World War II Memorial leave me with a sense of somberness and gratitude. The Pentagon is massive, and the White House, majestic. By careful design of those involved in its evolution, Washington, D.C. is physically impressive and a bit intimidating.

It is daunting to look at the political landscape and think you could make a difference, but by being here MFB members show their interest in the representation of their ideals. To walk where our country’s founders walked, enter rooms they entered and created history, and connect with the leaders who serve us today has made the very small role we citizens play in this enormous picture seem a little more significant.

Though we learn about American history and government in school, nothing quite brings it home like visiting the Capitol. Here, history becomes more than what we read in books, and the possibility that we can make a difference becomes real. We are all busy people and don’t always take time to weigh in on the issues that matter to us. As the business of living becomes more complicated and our calendars more committed, it’s important we remember to speak up and let our leaders hear our voices.