Communications Boot Camp: My Growth Opportunity
By Adele Flynn
There is a saying that goes, “Anything that makes you uncomfortable is your greatest opportunity for growth.” “
Speaking in public, being filmed and interviewing the media are all things that make me uncomfortable. But I always looked for ways to improve myself. I have read articles about the American Farm Bureau Women’s Communications Boot Camp and the Ohio women who attended it for several years. Three young children, a full-time farm and other commitments have always held me back. But in February 2020, I finally made the decision to give it a try. I submitted my application… and then a pandemic arrived! So when I received the notification that training camp would be held last fall, I was more than ready. I reapplied and found out that out of 56 applications, Ohio would send two women into agriculture (the only state to have multiple participants).
Women’s Communications Boot Camp got me out of my comfort zone the right way
I was warned in advance that training camp would be intense. But I figured that was exactly what I was going to do, get uncomfortable and grow taller. I have to say that after I got it right, although it was intimidating at times, it was actually very refreshing. It took me out of my comfort zone in a good way. For example, we were asked to prepare a three-minute speech on one of AFBF’s flagship topics. It would be recorded while we were presenting to the group, and we could only have one note card with keywords on it. I hate looking at myself in front of the camera or listening to my voice, so the thought of watching him with someone while they criticize me made my stomach ache.
During the speech, I kept thinking, “Do they hear my heart beat? Will they see my lips tremble? At one point, I said something out of order, fumbled around, apologized, and continued. Watching it later with my instructor gave me a different perspective. I realized that all of those nerves I was feeling on the inside weren’t visible on the outside and the audience didn’t have my script. They didn’t know I screwed up until I pointed it out to them. These simple achievements were such confidence boosters.
It was a hugely beneficial training program, but the most rewarding part of the experience was getting to know the other boot campers. We weren’t just there to learn from the instructors; we were there to learn from fellow Farm Bureau women across the country (as far away as Alaska!), to learn from the experiences of others, to uplift and encourage each other, and to push each other to improve. Every woman I met at training camp was amazing. What has brought us together is the passion we all have for this incredible industry. No matter what different types of agriculture we are involved in, be it sugarcane, bison, cut flowers, food inspection, grain crops or livestock, we are all united in our beliefs: we love our families, we love our farms, we love the office farm and we want to be able to share that with the world. We all attended a training camp so the awesome staff at AFBF would help us do that.
Overall it was an amazing experience. I strongly encourage any woman in the Farm Bureau who is passionate about our wonderful industry and wants to do more to defend it, whether you are comfortable communicating or not, to apply for an upcoming communication training camp for the women.
Editor’s Note: A Spring Boot Camp session will take place from March 22 to 25, 2022. Applications are accepted until January 17, 2022.
Adele Flynn is District 3 Administrator for the Ohio Federation of Agriculture Bureau.