Stacy Irwin Boot Camp

I was fortunate to be able to experience an opportunity offered by American Farm Bureau called “Women’s Communication Boot Camp.” As an active farmer, wife, mother, business owner, Ohio Farm Bureau member, and secretary/treasurer of Columbiana County Farm Bureau, I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge of Farm Bureau, and I knew that this Boot Camp would be a great way for me to learn on the national level what Farm Bureau does for all of us.

I arrived in Washington, D.C. with 14 other women from around the United States, and the words that kept coming to me during my whole experience were “diversity” and “strength.” These women came from Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Maine and Ohio, most owning and working their own agricultural operations. Blackberries, blueberries, eggs, grains, beef, pork, maple syrup, nuts, tomatoes, and so many more products all coming from WOMEN, who came together for three and a half days to learn how to advocate for Farm Bureau. We represented all age groups and so many other professions, as most of us also worked off the farm.

The first full day, we presented a prepared speech to the group, and a panel from American Farm Bureau that critiqued and offered guidance in ways to make our message clear, delivery relatable, and our “ask” succinct. The nervousness was palpable, as was the relief, as we finished our first round of speech delivery. The next day was spent refining our speech, and speech style, and also learning ways to communicate clearly with the press and media. We spent time answering questions about the topic of our speech in mock radio and TV interviews, and took time to review these interviews, learning ways to improve.

I was able to take my topic to the Hill and meet with my state representative’s staff, advocating for Ohio and American Farm Bureau, and putting my new skills into immediate practice. We discussed the EPA and Waters of the US legislation, the importance of the farm bill and how it has affected me and my family, and broadband in Ohio, which is impacting so many lives. I felt empowered and educated by this opportunity offered by AFBF, knowing that I otherwise would not have been able to address these topics so clearly if I had not taken this opportunity.

The final day we gave our refined speech, with questions from the audience, some of them quite intense, showing us the importance of not only being able to present a good talk, but also knowing your topic and how the group that you are advocating for also stands on the topic. From body language to voice inflections, we were critiqued again, and the increased confidence in all the speakers was evident. I could only marvel again at the diversity of this group and the opportunity that our state and national Farm Bureaus have in this resource of strength that the women of Farm Bureau have!

I came home knowing that I would be using this priceless opportunity that I had participated in to continue to speak for agriculture and my Ohio Farm Bureau. I am an advocate and resource for my agriculture-based business, my farm, and my county, and I look forward to continuing to use my voice and experience in the future.

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 Women's Communications Boot Camp

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

A spring session of Boot Camp will be held April 3-6, 2023, with applications opening in December.

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
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.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
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.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
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

Business Solutions
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.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
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.
Austin Heil's avatar
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.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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