Stepping out of our comfort zone – AgriPOWER Class VII Session 1 blog

by Angela Shoemaker of Louisville, AgriPOWER Class VII participant

During our first session at the Ohio Farm Bureau offices July 17-18, we gathered as 19 individuals with different backgrounds in the agricultural industry. If you are going to invest a significant amount of time and energy into a program, it helps to get started off right by getting to know those you will be spending long days with. I found listening to everyone’s background interesting as everyone had very different backgrounds but yet we all seemed to have one thing in common: we all grew up on a farm and it seemed that even though some are not living on a farm today, that is where they are drawn to and still have a passion for the industry.

We met with the Ohio Farm Bureau cabinet and had an overview of each of the departments in Columbus and what they were responsible for and then received a quick tour around the offices. We had an introduction to Nationwide Insurance, which is based out of Columbus. Here we learned the heritage of Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide goes back decades. We learned that Nationwide actually started as Farm Bureau Insurance!

We participated in various self-assessment workshops that showed us our natural strengths and natural emotions. These results seemed to be very accurate as presenter John Torres would give examples that relate to our day-to-day life. These evaluations will be good tools to go back to our employers and share how we each work differently to get to the same end result.

Saturday, we had a session that challenged us to step outside our comfort zone and give a three to five minute speech in front of the group. After giving the speech we then reviewed the speech with John Torres and Marlene Eick to get tips for public speaking.

This was a great experience and we received a lot of tips from how to organize a speech to how to stand in front of a crowd. For me, it was the most impactful part of the session. I am not as comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd as I would like. The public speaking session will be put to good use. In my career I do have to get up in front of large groups of folks to present about my employer, Weaver Leather; this will help me to be better prepared with more of a flow to my speech that will be easier for the audience to follow.

When we need to speak to a crowd that is not as familiar with the agriculture industry, using stories and examples that folks will be able to better understand or relate to will help when talking to a crowd about issues that are facing our industry.

Apply for AgriPOWER Class VIII by April 15.

Read more from other AgriPOWER Class VII participant

Session 1 blogs

Vicky Shaw discussed her experience in the program’s first session learning about her strength and picking up public speaking tips.

Angela Shoemaker discussed her experience in the program’s first session and learning to step out of her comfort zone.

Session 2 blogs

Chris Kick blogged about interacting with the media and being an effective spokesperson.

Sara Campbell wrote about using storytelling in conversations with consumers and visiting Turner Farms.

Session 3 blogs

Josh Henderson blogged about truly having a voice in Washington.

Libby Bender shared her experience meeting with the authors of the EPA’s WOTUS rule and meeting with her congressman.

Heidi White wrote about learning more about trade at the New Zealand Embassy.

Session 4 blogs

Lara Staples wrote about learning what state government and the people who run it are really like.

Stephanie Leis blogged about the speakers from session 4 and their connection to agriculture.

Jenny Meyer discussed inspiration to share her story more.

Session 5 blogs

Jeff Adams blogged about learning more about tax law and CAUV.

Shelly Detwiler wrote about local government, school funding and oil and gas production.

Session 6 blogs

Matt Schlegel wrote about some of the  peanut and cotton harvesting equipment the class saw on their trip to South Carolina.

Steven Ruggles shared what he learned about vegetable farming in South Carolina and the similarities and difference between vegetable farming and grain farming.

Jami Willard of Columbus wrote about the whirlwind tour of South Carolina’s agriculture that Class VII experienced.

Session 7 blogs

Elaine Beekman of Wellington blogged about this final session not being the end of the learning from AgriPOWER.

Kayla Jones of Newark wrote about volunteering at Highland Youth Garden during the final session.

Mandy Way of Chillicothe blogged about her experience in AgriPOWER reviving her passion for agriculture.


Meet other Class VII graduates.


AgriPOWER is an elite training program designed to help participants become community leaders and advocates for agriculture.