Connecting with the public: Farm leaders attend communications boot camp

Margaret Gladden (right), member of the Indiana Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, practices a television interview as part of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Communications Boot Camp.

The training included sessions on public speaking, working with the media and advocating for agriculture. They participated in mock TV, radio and newspaper interviews.

“It’s a very intense four-day training,” Gladden said.

“At the end, we went to the Hill and made visits to our congressman. Mine were not in, but I did meet with people within their offices. I had never been to Washington, D.C. It was a great experience for me.”

Connecting with the public: Farm leaders attend communications boot camp

Margaret Gladden gives a presentation at the American Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Communication Boot Camp fall session.

Gladden farms grain with her husband and father-in-law.

She’s learned that being put out of your comfort zone is a great way to grow.

“You’re going through this with 14 other people,” Gladden said. “I know I have made lifelong friends from other states.

“It’s a challenging week. You’re out of your comfort zone. As a former school teacher, I know sometimes when we’re put in a new situation, we learn and perform because we have to.”

With less than 2% of the population engaged in farming or ranching, honing outreach skills and connecting with the non-farming public is essential, according to Sherry Saylor, chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.

“As farmers, we need to be able to communicate effectively to help to educate the public about positive things, like where their food, fiber and fuel comes from,” Gladden said.

This is the 14th year of the program, which has 210 graduates and is open to all women involved in Farm Bureau. An application process is used to select the participants.

Learn more about the program at: www.fb.org/programs/womens-leadership-program/communications-boot-camp.

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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