At the American Farm Bureau annual convention in Orlando attended by about 7,000 from across the country, 300 of those were Hoosiers including some who represent a strong contingent of women leaders in Indiana agriculture. Isabella Chism, 2nd vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau, is also vice chair of American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Deb Walsh from Fulton County was also elected to a 2-year term on that committee as the Midwest region representative.
“We work across the whole United States with women’s programs,” she explained. “We do Food Link. We do farmers markets and we work with women in Farm Bureau to help them get their programs going. We help educate all segments of agriculture.”
Amy Kelsay is another strong advocate for agriculture by virtue of her family’s central Indiana dairy which is also a tour destination. She was in Orlando as a regional winner in last year’s Monsanto Farm Mom program and spoke at the Women’s Leadership meeting.
“The main thing I talked about is what the program has meant to me, what the award meant to me, but then also to share a little bit about my experiences on our farm and things that I get to do on our dairy farm in terms of ag promotion and ag education with visitors that come to our farm. This award has opened other avenues for me. Much of that is mom to mom conversations that I get to have talking about the importance of our industry, why we do what we do, and encouraging them to feed their children milk and dairy products!”
Both women are passionate about educating consumers about where their food comes from, and Walsh explains that’s vitally important in this day and age.
“There are so many people that are not farmers and just such a minute percentage that are farmers,” she told HAT. “People don’t really know where their food source comes from and we as farmers are trying to educate them and tell them. Lots of people have never even been on a farm and many people across the United States have never ever been close to an animal, so we’re trying to educate them that what they’re eating and what they’re buying in the grocery store is a very safe food that the farmer is producing.”