By Cyndie Shearing
April Clayton, a farmer and scientist, has a full personal and professional plate, but makes it a priority to find time to share on social media about how fruit trees are raised, carefully tended and harvested. Clayton is co-owner of Red Apple Orchards in Orondo, Washington, on the beautiful slope of the Eastern Cascade Mountains.
“Do not be scared of social media!” is her succinct advice for women in agriculture who are thinking about diving into advocacy. “I know it’s something I still struggle with,” she candidly admits. In her experience, “Sometimes the best advocacy you can do is to keep your network connections open. A one-on-one conversation is more powerful than you think” when it comes to talking with consumers about modern food production.
Clayton and her husband, Mike, grow 85 acres of organic apples and 65 acres of conventional cherries. The family farm aspect of the orchard extends to their employees. Their farm foreman has been with them for more than 40 years, and his son and siblings also work with them.
Holding a doctorate in analytical chemistry “helps when reading the latest papers on different crop protection products, and with our fertilizer and soil analysis,” she explains.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit travel and attending industry events, Clayton has her eye on a brighter outlook for the future. “I’m looking forward to going to conventions and trade shows again. The best networking and connecting with others often happens at these kinds of events.”
Clayton’s involvement in ag leadership is extensive and includes serving as president of Chelan/Douglas County Farm, as a member of Northwest Farm Credit’s Local Advisory Committee and as a U.S. Farmers & Ranchers In Action ambassador. She’s also a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Grassroots Outreach (GO) Team and a graduate of AFBF’s Partners in Advocacy Leadership program.
The American Farm Bureau is featuring Clayton 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.