WASHINGTON– Fifteen farm and ranch women leaders graduated from the spring session of Women’s Communications Boot Camp hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. One of those fifteen was Jodie Drange, Drange Apiary, who serves as Yellowstone County Farm Bureau’s president.  

The agricultural leaders completed an intensive four-day course that featured hands-on sessions focused on public speaking, working with the media, and messaging. Program graduates will use their training to strategically support Farm Bureau’s priority issues. This includes participating in local media opportunities, sharing information with elected officials, and joining social media campaigns that spotlight modern agriculture.

Media training was an integral part of the boot camp. “They filmed us doing a mock interview and we watched ourselves, critiqued the interview, and discussed what we could do better in the future,” Drange said. “I do quite a few media interviews so this training showed what I can improve upon, especially giving the reporter more information.” 

The Yellowstone County Farm Bureau President said this was the first time she was on Capitol Hill, which proved intimidating at first, but meeting with the staffers of Senator Jon Tester and Representative Matt Rosendale’s offices proved inspiring.

“We talked about honeybees and other pollinators. Rosendale’s staff had questions about what is happening in agriculture, and I invited them to see our business in Laurel. Senator Tester’s staff wanted to talk about the Hive Act and I told them my husband and I would do research on how it would affect us and get back to them. There was great rapport with those offices.”

Drange said the opportunity to visit with the American Farm Bureau staff in Washington was helpful and educational. “I spoke with John Walt Boatright in the AFBF Policy Department, who handles ag labor, and he and I visited about H-2A workers.”

She enjoyed the camaraderie of the other women in the boot camp. “I met such amazing women. One commercially raised eggs, one raised miniature donkeys, and another had a tulip farm. It was a very diverse group of women and I learned so much about the different aspects of agriculture.”

“From engaging with elected officials to consumers, agricultural advocacy is a cornerstone of Farm Bureau,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’re proud to recognize the women farmers and ranchers who completed this training and congratulate them for taking this next step in their leadership journey.”

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.