The Colorado Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee kicked off the 2021 National Ag Week with a webinar highlighting women in agriculture. Speakers in the webinar shared their leadership journeys and encouraged participants to use their voice and advocate for agriculture.
“Find that place where you can fill in your authentic voice and sharing what matters to you through the noise. Stay focused on what you love what you’re passionate about because what you believe in is foundational to agriculture,” shared Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Kate Greenberg.
A common theme of the webinar was the need to be at the table to further agriculture’s vision. If you want to have an impact you have to use your voice, urged Sherry Saylor, former American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Chair. Sherry talked about the need to educate others who don’t understand agriculture or why farmers and ranchers do what they do. In fact, she was getting ready to call a local news station to provide a farming perspective on a recent “Dirty Dozen” story.
According to USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture, women now make up 36% of the total population of U.S. farmers. This growing base of women in agriculture is an active and highly mobilized group of individuals. Of Farm Bureau members surveyed in a recent national women’s leadership survey, 75% are leaders at the local government level with 45% serving as a board member or officer. The survey also indicates that 95% of respondents actively advocate for agriculture.
For CFB board member, Connie Hass, a good reminder for everyone is that you don’t have to be born in agriculture to advocate for the industry.
“You just need to be passionate,” Connie said. “As women, we need to speak our truth and tell our stories. Each one of us has a unique story.”
Connie grew up in Pueblo, Colorado before marrying rancher Tony Hass. After the future of their ranch was at risk because of a local army base expansion, she knew that she needed to speak up and her start in advocacy work began. Connie is now the only women serving on the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company and a new appointee to Colorado’s redistricting commission.
“None of this work is done alone,” said Commissioner Greenberg. “Especially as women. This work is done in networks and leaning on each other knowing that there are others in the proverbial room.”
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association president, Janie VanWinkle, provided some advice for women in leadership positions and some principles she always uses to re-center herself:
Be Strong…but not rude.
Be Kind…but not weak.
Be Bold…but don’t bully.
Be Humble…but not timid.
Be Proud…but not arrogant.
These are words to inspire us all. Thank you to this strong group of women for sharing your stories and encouraging others to use their voice and advocate for the industry we all love.