Farm Bureau University Expands with New Consumer Advocacy Module

Cyndie Shearing

Director, Communications

photo credit: St. Louis (Missouri) and St. Clair County (Illinois) Farm Bureaus, Used With Permission

By Cyndie Shearing

Enhancements to Farm Bureau University continue with the recent launch of a new consumer advocacy module. The module features self-paced lessons covering a variety of topics including tips for active listening, crafting messages about your farm or ranch and honing other skills that build confidence when interacting with consumers.

FB University allows Farm Bureau members to learn through interactive experiences online when and where they want. It’s easy to log onto the program from a desktop computer in an office or on an iPad in the field.

Alan Clark, a Farm Bureau member and leader from Idaho, is a member of AFBF’s Promotion & Education Committee. He completed the new module and found it to be helpful when planning a Meet the Farmer event at a local grocery store for later this fall. Potato growers and beef cattle ranchers will interact with grocery shoppers and answer their questions about food and how it’s produced.

“People really do want to hear farmers’ stories, they love hearing about what we do,” Clark said. “They’re more receptive to hearing from us [farmers] than you might think,” he added.

People really do want to hear farmers’ stories, they love hearing about what we do

- Alan Clark, Idaho FB Member

Clark praised the new, self-paced advocacy module, which includes short video segments. He found the training materials “enjoyable to watch,” with the section on active listening particularly useful. When advocating about agriculture, “it’s so important to listen to what people are saying when they ask questions,” he emphasized.

Stacey Lauwers, a Farm Bureau member and leader from Michigan, chairs AFBF’s Promotion & Education Committee and also completed the new module.

“Explaining what we do on our farm, with confidence and in a personal way, is how I can better engage with people and share my passion for farming,” Lauwers said. “As farmers, we need to be having conversations about what we do. The module easily walks you through how to be better prepared to do that.”

Lauwers acknowledged that sharing with advocating about agriculture may be challenging if you’re just getting started, but added, “Everything gets easier with practice and engaging in conversations is no different.”

In addition to Consumer Advocacy, other training modules available online through FB University include Political Advocacy, which covers preparing and conducting visits with legislators and relationship-building with elected officials; Board Essentials, which helps county board members develop their skills; FB Builder, an evaluation tool county Farm Bureaus use to assess eight building blocks of organizational health; and Pillars of Agricultural Literacy, a tool to guide individuals or groups in creating a purposeful plan to help consumers learn about agriculture.

Contact Jordan Henry, director of leadership & organizational training (jordanh@fb.org), with questions about Farm Bureau University.

Cyndie Shearing is a director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.