Sometimes it isn’t easy taking time away from home. It can get discouraging to continue to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you in order to avoid any criticism. However, the consequence of giving up on life-changing experiences is NEVER worth it because life is just too short. No matter how much stress it may take to prepare for your journey, you always come home with a special gift that you never had before. My gift at the end of July was going out to Washington, D.C. and meeting 15 of the most amazing women in this country. Not only did they share my passion for agriculture, but they also shared my commitment to growing personally and professionally to better our futures.
On July 23-25, I participated in the Women’s Communications Boot Camp put on by the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Women’s Committee. After meeting the class and hearing of all their accomplishments, I thought to myself, “I don’t even compare to these ladies.” Yet, they are the ones who boosted me up right away and helped convince me that I, too, deserved to be there. After having a brief introduction dinner and beautiful night tour of the historical monuments, we jumped right into doing our presentation speeches the next morning. It was interesting to hear different perspectives on agricultural issues that other states are dealing with. Talking in front of a crowd is one area that I definitely do not excel in, but I am determined to improve on my public speaking skills. I’m the kind of person that people throw bananas at on stage, so you can imagine now how that first speech went for me.
Following our presentations, we took an in-depth look at public speaking and covered topics of content, messaging and delivery dynamics. Questions we were challenged to ask ourselves included, “Will your message matter tomorrow for your audience as they begin their day? What emotion do you want your audience to feel?” Then media training was covered, giving us tips on hitting our key message using tag lines or 7-second sound bites. That prepped us for day two, where we participated in print, radio and television interviews and were forced to step out of our comfort zones. For those who aren’t used to working with the media, it can be fascinating to see yourself on camera with the lights rolling and how you react to questions on the spot.
Before we headed to Capitol Hill to meet with our legislators, we gained more information on farm policy, regulatory reform and trade issues. We also learned about social media advocacy and how to have successful congressional visits. I have been to Capitol Hill in the past, but it was a new experience meeting with staffers one-on-one versus in a group setting. I enjoyed sharing my personal connection to issues and addressing concerns that Wisconsin farmers may be facing.
Finally, we began our third day with a message from AFBF President Zippy Duvall who read, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries (1 Cor: 16:9).” This means that wonderful opportunities to do great work present themselves every day, but there are always people who will be against you. Then, the group finished the class by giving our final presentations and I was very proud of how far everyone had come. It really brightened my day when many of the ladies congratulated me on improving, and one saying she had a ‘proud mom’ moment watching me speak.
They say a missed opportunity is worse than defeat, and I know this group of women that I met left me with a sense of confidence that I didn’t have before because they believed in me more than I believed in myself. Flipping fear into curiosity is a gift and that I got to bring back to Wisconsin, along with a family and a fan club that I wouldn’t have had without this experience. I am very grateful for my job letting me partake in this opportunity and I would recommend the Women’s Communications Boot Camp to anyone! I am always willing to answer questions, so don’t be afraid to contact me.
Tammy Wiedenbeck is a Farm Bureau member from District 3 and is currently serving on the State Young Farmer and Agriculturist Committee. She works for Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association and runs Riverview Photography on the side. She also helps manage 110 head of beef cows at Riverview Farms with her brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Stacy and parents, Dick and Rhonda.