Women are powerful advocates for agriculture, which is why it’s important to provide them with resources to sharpen their skills and strengthen their ability to inspire change. The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Program does just that by giving women across Mississippi opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Typically, these opportunities are conducted through face-to-face interactions in communities across the state; however, the COVID-19 pandemic forced MFBF’s State Women’s Leadership Committee to get creative in how to implement their programs. Look at how each member of the State Women’s Leadership Committee developed unique ways to engage members in their districts in women’s programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Betty Mills, Chair

“Our MFBF Women’s Leadership Committee faced different kinds of challenges with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Looking at the calendar of activities — and realizing that as advocates for agriculture our year had to go on — we learned to communicate virtually and through group texts and emails. CANT WAS NOT AN OPTION. I am so thankful for everyone who diligently assisted us in making our programs happen.”

Shelby Williams, Vice-Chair

“During the COVID-19 crisis, we had many concerns about our families and friends, as well as those of our fellow committee members. Text messaging has been a lifesaver for communicating. Whether it is a prayer or decision or simply keeping up with our programs and leadership on the county and state levels, we were blessed to have this type of communication to fill in during the quarantine.”

Deniese Swindoll, District 1

“It’s obvious that 2020 and 2021 have brought on tremendous challenges. But, as we all know, challenges sometimes bring out the best in us. Thank goodness for the technology, that allowed us to stay in contact and encourage one another to continue to educate and tell the story of agriculture in creative ways. We all hope and pray for things to get back to normal soon.”

Carla Taylor, District 2

“I cannot say that I did anything extra to keep the volunteers in District 2 engaged. However, those volunteers did extra to keep me engaged! Some enhanced their social media presence and some expanded their farm operations with new products geared directly to the consumers. Overall, we encouraged each other. That encouragement went a long way to keeping the volunteers in District 2 engaged. THESE LADIES ROCK!”

Peggy McKey, District 3

“During the pandemic, District 3 texted quite a bit to share ideas about how to reach our kids without going into schools. I used group texts to remind those in my district of upcoming deadlines. When teachers need information about agriculture, we send them links to the subject they are curious about. Most of our schools will still accept worksheets, placemats, bookmarks, etc. to use in the classrooms.”

Joanie Word, District 4

“With teamwork and dedication, the District 4 Mississippi Farm Bureau Women met their proposed goals during a year of uncertain circumstances. Through lots of texting and emails, the chairs and vice chairs continued to share Agriculture in the Classroom materials. I am proud of the ladies in my district who continued to push forward despite the circumstances.”

 Betty Edwards, District 5

“District Five represents 10 counties: Adams, Amite, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson. District Five has excellent chairs and vice chairs who enjoy sharing Ag in the Classroom materials with the teachers and students in their county. They share ideas and projects through meetings, texting, emails and mail.”

Elsie McCollough, District 6

“After attending the MFBF Annual Convention for a number of years and knowing how the Women’s Leadership Program works, I did not know how we would get our business conducted during the pandemic. It has been hard to connect, but by virtually coming together, it was possible to announce our winners and get our business taken care of with success. We are in prayer for COVID-19 to end.”

Renee Keith, District 7

“District 7 has continued to express the importance of agriculture throughout our counties during the last year. We have reached out through social media, homeschooler programs, and even family and friends. Some of the ladies have opened their farms to groups to help raise awareness within their counties. I am grateful for the volunteers in my district!”

Wanda Hill, District 8

“It has been difficult to gain access to schools and other locations to promote our programs in District 8. Some of our ladies have been very creative in finding ways to promote Farm Bureau. They have delivered educational materials to schools and nursing homes. They also delivered snacks to nursing homes and hospital health providers. I am very proud of and thankful for their efforts during these difficult times.”

For more information about the MFBF Women’s Leadership Program, visit msfb.org/women.