Female farmers and ranchers might be outnumbered in the field at times, but they make an outsized impact on women who want to follow them into leadership positions on and off the farm.
Isabella Chism, chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and a corn, soybean and sweet corn farmer from Indiana, says that having others consider you a leader provides a big boost of confidence that goes beyond one single person.
“When somebody accepts that you're a leader, that is a push forward. That's something that is then encouraging others, empowering others. It's an encouragement to the individual, yes, but it's also an encouragement to others that eventually builds a strong foundation for others to stand on, and it brings a balance of perspective in the long run,” Chism said.
To help Farm Bureau women develop the skills they need to be powerful advocates for agriculture, the Women’s Leadership Committee offers several training opportunities, including the Women’s Communications Boot Camp, an intensive four-day program for 15 women selected via an application process. Boot Camp, held twice a year in AFBF’s Washington, D.C., office covers public speaking, communicating with elected officials, social media strategy, targeted messaging and working with the media.
Watching women gain the confidence to step into leadership roles and use the skills they’ve gained through WLC programs like Boot Camp is one of the most gratifying aspects of being a female leader in agriculture, according to Chism.
“My proudest accomplishments are the women who are now doing the things that they thought they couldn't do. I just get this, I call it a 'proud mama' moment, when I get to see women doing the things that they thought that they couldn't do, when I get to see them speaking to a group of people, I get to see them giving an interview, I get to see them speaking up about something happening on their farms, talking to a legislator,” she explained.
Applications are open through Jan. 17 for the spring Boot Camp session, March 22-25. Learn more here.