By Cyndie Shearing
Isabella Chism, a Farm Bureau leader on the state and national levels, believes “time and fear” are the biggest challenges facing women in agriculture today, when it comes to stepping up as ag advocates.
“Time because we all think we need to do everything and do it well,” Chism says. “Fear because we believe we need to have all of the answers. With this said, if it comes down to scheduling we will move in-person advocacy to the bottom of the list because of the fear. Every woman has all she needs to share her story except the understanding that she is the only one that can tell it.”
Chism firmly believes that most women have natural characteristics that will help bring unity to not only agriculture and their communities, but potentially our country.
“Positive action can be achieved when we listen to each other with the understanding that we are working together for everyone’s good,” she says. “The characteristics [women have] that I see and believe are key to this progress are empathy, emotional intelligence and being natural communicators.”
Commenting on the lack of unity within ag circles that sometimes arises, Chism points out, “We cannot serve agriculture in a positive way when there is chaos and distrust.” Fortunately, “Women are in a strategic position today to stand tall and walk through the chaos, leaving order behind them as they go,” she says.
Chism’s dedication to helping women realize their potential and take advantage of leadership opportunities is a natural tie-in to National Ag Day (March 23). This annual celebration serves to increase public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society.
“It’s my goal to continue empowering and supporting women for leadership positions within and outside of Farm Bureau,” Chism concludes.
Isabella Chism is second vice president at Indiana Farm Bureau and chair of INFB’s Women’s Leadership Committee. She was recently elected chair of the American Farm Bureau’s WLC. She is immediate past chair and serves on the board of the Agriculture Council of America, which organizes National Ag Day.
The American Farm Bureau is featuring Chism and several other women leaders in agriculture as part of its Women In Ag series during March (Women’s History Month).
Cyndie Shearing is director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.