Jan Miller had no idea what was coming. As the Belden farm wife and agriculture leader watched the video touting this year’s AG-ceptional Woman of the Year along with 350 other farm wives, country gals and agribusiness women at the 3rd annual AG-ceptional Women conference, she noticed that several video segments were featuring her words. When her husband, Jim Miller, and her children were featured in the video, she knew something was up.
AG-CEPTIONAL - Jan Miller of Belden (center) is joined by her husband Jim (left of Jan) and other family members on stage at the AG-ceptional Women conference in Norfolk last week as the farm wife, mother and agriculture leader and volunteer is named AG-ceptional Woman of the Year.
It was a priceless moment when a shocked and surprised Jan, who was serving on the conference committee, was named the 2011 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year, to the celebratory ovation of her peers.
That was one of the climatic moments at this year’s day long conference held last Friday in Norfolk. Jan, who is a farm wife, mother, combine driver, agricultural leader and volunteer, is a perfect example of the “do it all” type of women living and working today’s family farms.
Another super farm wife, Dawn Caldwell, spoke to the group about how important it is for farm wives to tell the positive message of agriculture to our urban friends. “Farm women are the same as other women,” Dawn said. In her keynote address, she said that farm wives are connected in a special way to urban women.
She said that women do much of the food shopping and menu-making duties in a family, whether they live and work on a farm or in the city. So, she said that farm women need to use that connection to tell the true story of agriculture.
Dawn told about an urban friend who rode in a combine for the first time and wondered where the canned corn came out of the machine. She said that there are so many misconceptions like that about farming and farm life, that farm families have their work cut out for them to get their message to their food customers.
Another primary responsibility of farm wives and mothers is to educate their own children about the positive impacts of rural life, farming and food. She said that many children, even those who live in rural areas, believe that the world doesn’t need farmers because food comes from the grocery store. “Help our children to explain things about farm life to their friends,” Dawn said.
Her message encouraged farm women to take the lead in educating consumers and urban and rural folks alike about agriculture. “Farmers are the best environmentalists,” she told the group. “It is way beyond time to start communicating that fact.”
But Dawn said that no one will listen to the facts unless we make the message personal. She advised agriculture promoters to tell about their own personal family farm history and legacy on the land. Tell friends and urban neighbors about farm life in a personal fashion, and give them facts that are important to their lives and their families.
It was a great day for the women of agriculture. I take my hat off to Jan Miller and congratulate the new AG-ceptional Woman of the Year. I also congratulate my wife and all of those farm women on the front lines on farms and ranches around the globe for the important work they do every day.