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Highlights from the AFBF Women's Communications Boot Camp

Updated: Apr 18

Katie Iverson and Katie Boshart Glaser

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has long stood as a beacon of support and advocacy for the agricultural community. Among its initiatives - in partnership with the AFBF Women's Leadership Committee - the Women's Communications Boot Camp in Washington D.C. offers a platform for empowering women involved in agriculture. The program is not just about skill enhancement; it’s about creating a network of support and fostering confidence among women farmers and agribusiness professionals.

Set against the backdrop of Washington D.C., the Boot Camp is designed to boost advocacy and communication skills. Fifteen agricultural leaders completed an intensive four-day course that featured hands-on sessions focused on public speaking, working with the media and messaging.

Oregon was fortunate enough to have two Farm Bureau members accepted into the Boot Camp this year: Katie Iverson and Katie Boshart Glaser. Yes, two Katies.

Katie Iverson, a member of Clackamas County Farm Bureau, described the atmosphere as both challenging and supportive. The first day was marked by nervousness as each participant prepared to give a public speech on agricultural issues. However, the environment quickly shifted to one of encouragement and mutual support. "As soon as the first speech ended, you could feel a shift in the atmosphere. We were there to support, encourage, and champion each other forward," Katie recalls.

This experience significantly boosted her confidence, allowing her to see past her initial nerves and focus on her potential impact as an advocate for agriculture. She left the Boot Camp equipped not only with new skills but also with a newfound excitement for her future role in advocacy.

One of the most practical skills Katie gained was the ability to craft effective messages for myriad audiences. "On my flight home, I spent over an hour talking to someone about Farm Bureau and agriculture," she explains. This encounter is a prime example of how the boot camp's lessons are applicable in everyday life.

Looking forward, Katie is enthusiastic about using her communication skills to engage with the public and policymakers alike, especially through her role on the Oregon Agriculture Education Foundation. “While in DC I was able to meet with the offices of Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley and Representative Chavez-DeRemer. I plan to continue to push myself to speak up for agriculture with policy makers, both at the local and state level. It will take practice being an advocate for agriculture, however I find joy in those conversations even when they are challenging.”

Katie Boshart Glaser, of Linn County Farm Bureau, shared a similar reflection. Initially unsure of what to expect, she found the program to be incredibly supportive and informative. From the first speech to the final evaluations, a spirit of support surrounded the event, with attendees and instructors alike fostering an environment of growth and learning.

Boshart Glaser and Iverson, teaming up for meetings with Congressional offices, shared their stories and advocated for Oregon agriculture. “Katie and I were able to do all three of our meetings together which helped ease our nerves. We worked really well together,” Boshart Glaser remarked. “Both of us were able to share our stories and a few issues we face being farmers in Oregon. Pretty much all of Oregon agriculture falls under specialty crops which means we are overlooked compared to the big commodities like corn and soybeans. Each person we met with seemed to understand a little more what we go through as farmers in Oregon.”

Boshart Glaser’s experience stresses the importance of sharing personal stories when communicating, whether with elected officials or the public. "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care," she says, quoting President Theodore Roosevelt. She was also surprised to learn that farmers are America’s second most trusted business sector. “Hearing this gives me more confidence to talk with people and share what I do as a farmer,” she reflected. “People want to understand what we do on our farm.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Women's Communications Boot Camp not only equips women in agriculture with essential communication and advocacy skills but also instills a profound sense of confidence and community among its participants. The program is highly recommended for any woman affiliated with the Farm Bureau who aims to enhance her advocacy skills and make impactful contributions to agriculture.

Congratulations to Katie Iverson and Katie Boshart Glaser for completing the training. Oregon Farm Bureau is lucky to have you!

The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, in partnership with AFBF staff, hosts and provides training for Women’s Communications Boot Camp biannually.

Applications open in June for the next fall session of Boot Camp, slated for Oct. 14-17, 2024.

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