April 16, 2021

Time to tell your story

Chism shares encouragement

GALVESTON, Ind. — In a time when farm families represent less than 2% of the population, it’s critical for farmers to unite.

Farmers representing all types of agriculture have something to bring to the table, said Isabella Chism, chair of Women’s Leadership Committee at American Farm Bureau Foundation.

Chism was a speaker at the 2021 Fusion Reimagined Conference.

“We know that a unified minority yields far more power than a divided majority,” she said. “It’s when we’re around that table to discuss our needs, understand each other and come up with polices, that we can then go forward unified, and advocate for legislation that will ensure our children and children’s children have the opportunity to choose agriculture.”

Chism compared life to playdough during an encouraging keynote session.

“Just like playdough, (life) has no value, no potential, if you don’t do something with it,” she said. “If you don’t take it out of the container and begin to mold and shape it.”

The most you get out of your comfort zone, the more flexible you become.

“When we let our playdough, or our lives, sit still and stagnant, we become dry,” Chism said. “Brittle. Easily broken. Not flexible. We can’t understand ourselves, let alone anyone else.

“As we continue to work and grow through boot camp, through advocacy days, through fly-ins, through food education, talking in schools, we become more flexible, because we’re listening to the questions.”

Communication is all about listening and not so much about talking, Chism said.

The more that famers listen, the more it will become clear what messages need to be shared.

“You have a load of possibilities in front of you,” Chism said. “Shape it into something to be proud of, something you want to be, something you want to do. Who knows, you might come out with a work of art.”

Chism also emphasized the value of AFBF’s Women’s Leadership Committee. It’s a safe place where women have peer-on-peer time to regroup, reenergize and brainstorm.

“We lift each other up,” Chism said. “We become empowered and powerful. Because it’s when we come together and share those stories, we get a greater understanding of who we are.

“We continue to grow and learn and stretch and become more flexible. When we’re doing that for agriculture, we’re more easily heard.”

Learn more at www.fb.org/programs/womens-leadership-program.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor