By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: The American Farm Bureau Federation honored a group of 16 farm and ranch leaders as graduates of the organization’s eighth annual Women’s Communications Boot Camp. The agricultural leaders were recognized after completing an intensive three-day course featuring sessions on working with the media, public speaking, testifying, messaging and seeking elected office. Arizona’s own Nancy Caywood is a graduate.

This year's boot camp represented 16 women from across the country all from America's farms and ranches. Nancy Caywood, front row center, said it was on of the most "awesome training experiences" she's ever been through. 

“This was the most intense conference I’ve ever been to,” said Nancy Caywood of Caywood Farms. “They gave us such incredible learning experiences and applied a lot of pressure but they get you through it and when you leave you feel like you’ve gained so many communication skills.”

Added Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers, “I am happy that Nancy Caywood was able to attend and graduate from AFBF's boot camp!”

“It’s more important than ever that farmers and ranchers make connections with consumers as they’re having conversations about how food is grown,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. In Farm Bureau, Gilbert explained, it’s often women members who step up as communicators, “serving the critical function of representing their farms and agriculture in speaking with the public and reaching out through social media.”

This year’s Boot Camp graduates are: Valerie Ansell, Florida; Elaine Avery, Georgia; Judy Bare, North Carolina; Beth Blevins, DVM, Montana; Nancy Caywood, Arizona; Linda Fawn Courville, Louisiana; Anita Hand, New Mexico; Kristal Harris, Virginia; Amelia Kent, Louisiana; Susan May, Kansas; Joan Myers, Pennsylvania; Kaye Peterson, Kentucky; Rebecca Smith, Tennessee; Raenell Edsall-Taylor, Wyoming; Jamie Tiralla, Maryland; and Debra Walsh, Indiana.

“I will forever be grateful for this boot camp experience,” added Caywood. “You obtain an incredible network. I’m also now on the AFBF Go-Team and I will continue to stay strong and stay aware of issues related to agriculture. I also plan on using the skills I learned for tours on our own farm. And, I’m willing to speak to any group about agriculture if asked.

Caywood, a member of Farm Bureau believes this training will help her with the media. “This boot camp also taught me to shave down my comments,” she explained. “I feel much more comfortable speaking to the media.”

The AFBWLC, under the leadership of Gilbert, sponsors the Women’s Communications Boot Camp. The program is open to all women involved in Farm Bureau.

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