Karin Bright Boot Camp

Dark and early on Halloween morning, I left for the airport to start a journey that would end with 14 new friends and a wealth of training, skill building, and advocacy opportunities. Where was I headed? The American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Communication Boot Camp in Washington, D.C. where I spent three days developing valuable communication skills and learning how to be the best advocate for agriculture both at the local and national level.

The Women’s Communication Boot Camp was an intensive training in all forms of communication – public speaking and presentation skills with a three minute, no notes presentation, media training, social media work, advocacy, and even how to network and present oneself in business and social settings. Fifteen women from across the country came together as strangers and left as friends. We worked together, laughed together, and in some cases even shed a tear or two as well as a few salty comments together, honing our skills as individuals and on behalf of agriculture

The days were filled with amazing presenters and trainers, excellent individualized feedback sessions, and fellowship. Women from across the country – literally as we had boot-campers from Oregon to Maine, from Louisiana to Wisconsin, and Oklahoma to New York (along with Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee) – came together to learn, grow, share and challenge each other.

For me, working late into the night with two very supportive friends, I was able to practice and polish my three-minute presentation on my chosen topic: Broadband – No Longer a Luxury, But a Necessity. Try tackling that subject in just three minutes! Being clear, concise and staying on point were critically important, and my friends Stacy and Jeannette were there to add constructive comments and even sideline coaching during the actual presentation. And to hear the cheers and applause from everyone during the final where EVERYONE heard the reviewers comments followed by “YOU PASSED!” was incredibly moving and exciting. We left tired but invigorated, ready to follow up with our 90-day checklist of how we would use and share what we had learned.

How to participate

This opportunity is available to any Farm Bureau woman, and I will tell you that what I brought back will be helpful not only in my role as an advocate and leader in agriculture but across all aspects of my life. I recommend it highly and am very proud to join the Boot Camp alumni. My fellow OFBF board member Adele Flynn, an alum as well, shared her experience with me and told me “You have to do this!” She was right! It was an outstanding experience and one that I will work to share across my counties, my state, and nationally.

(And when I shared my experience at our recent state board meeting, I made sure to do it in THREE minutes!!!)

About Women’s Communications Boot Camp

American Farm Bureau Federation hosts Women’s Communications Boot Camp twice a year.

The intensive four-day course features hands-on sessions related to public speaking, working with the media and messaging. Graduates are able to use their training in a variety of ways such as participating in local media opportunities to strategically support Farm Bureau’s policy work, sharing information with elected officials and joining social media campaigns that spotlight modern agriculture.

2022 Fall Women's Communications Boot Camp


Row 1 (L to R): Monet Bottenfield, Pennsylvania; Jacque Duyck-Jones, Oregon; Amanda Balon, Pennsylvania; and Carrie Barnhardt, North Carolina.

Row 2 (L to R): AFB Women’s Leadership Committee Chair Isabella Chism, Indiana; Karin Bright, Ohio; Cindy Stroup, North Carolina; Renea Jones, Tennessee; Julie Yahnke-Schrum, Pennsylvania; Stacy Irwin, Ohio; and AFB Women’s Leadership Committee Vice Chair Lorenda Overman, North Carolina.

Row 3 (L to R): Jeannette Kreher-Herberling, New York; Stasha Baldwin, Maine; Amy Hale, Louisiana; Madalynn Kainer, Texas; Karen Dodson, Oklahoma; and Kat Peper, Wisconsin.

The program has 254 graduates to date and is open to all women involved in Farm Bureau.

2023 Opportunities

The American Farm Bureau Federation will host two sessions of Women’s Communications Boot Camp in Washington, D.C. in 2023. The spring 2023 Boot Camp will be held April 3-6 and the fall Boot Camp will be held in October 2023.

Applications for the spring session close Jan. 27, 2023 at noon. The application must be completed online. Applicants will be notified of acceptance on or around Feb. 6, 2023.

Featured photo: Michael Kostovos from Congressman Troy Balderson’s office.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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