Understanding of why we do things the way that we do – AgriPOWER session 1 blog

by Vicky Shaw of Medina, AgriPOWER Class VII participant

Last weekend began the nearly yearlong journey of participating in the AgriPOWER Institute. Our first session took place at headquarters, the Ohio Farm Bureau office in downtown Columbus. From inside the conference room, we started the session to cover two main topics:

  1. Program and organization details – AgriPOWER, Ohio Farm Bureau, and Nationwide, what they are, how they work, etc.
  1. Professional skills identification and develoment.

For professional development we evaluated our strengths by completing Strengths Finder 2.0 and working on exercises with those strengths. Then we moved on to examining our emotional intelligence level and the importance of emotional intelligence to professional success. Myers-Briggs was used to provide us with our personality type and as a group we worked on some exercises to enhance our understanding of different personalities and how they work together. We did public speaking training and gave presentations to the group. And finally, after learning about ourselves and how to better use our strengths and skillsets, we were trained on etiquette (so that we don’t embarrass ourselves when we go to D.C.).

Overall, the takeaways of these exercises are substantial. Everyone who went through the first session can return to their personal lives and careers with a better understanding of why we do things the way that we do, how we interact with others, and why other people behave in ways different from us. This type of self-awareness training can increase our own effectiveness in working and interacting with others. I know that I have already put these new understandings to use. Most importantly, we have set our class approach to be that of building on our own strengths to make the most progress, rather than trying to force ourselves to make weaknesses into strengths.

The first session was not all work and no play. There were a handful of fun highlights from the session:

  • Jack Fisher, yes, the Jack Fisher, is an expert in the art and science of popping popcorn. He has offered to show us and is willing to show you too – probably… if you ask nicely.
  • I got to touch a plaster cast of Fabio’s head! Well, I didn’t exactly touch it. But I did get to stand next to it in a room of Nationwide’s archives and cool stuff from old commercials.
  • We learned that sometimes L comes after Q… an inside joke my classmates will understand.
  • Realizing that approximately 80 percent of my eating habits and behaviors are improper. But the ultimate triumph was learning that the golden rule of etiquette is to never do anything that makes other people feel bad or uncomfortable. So everyone I have been eating around for the last 26 years has been doing a great job of not making me feel too bad about doing this all wrong.

All in all, it was a great start to a program that will help us all grow and develop both personally and professionally. It is clear that this program fosters a stronger agricultural community by investing in this type of leadership development. I look forward to the experiences and adventures our program director, Melinda Witten has planned for us over the course of the next year.

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.