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