The 2020 Ag Excellence Award recipient is Karen Yost. When learning of all the incredible ways she has supported and led the industry, Montana Agri-Women stood out. Karen has served as the president of both Montana Agri-Women and American Agri-Women.
The Billings Chamber connected with Meghan Foran the current president of Montana Agri-Women to learn more about this organization and the important role they play in Montana’s largest industry.
Q: Montana Agri-Women promotes education and communication – tell us more about your organization.
A: We are a grass roots organization comprised of women from all facets of agriculture. Having such a diverse membership really allows us to have a unique perspective to advocate for agriculture. Education and public outreach are huge cornerstones for the organization, but legislation is also. Legislation goes hand in hand with education and communication. Combining those endeavors really helps us be effective leaders for Agriculture.
Q: Who is your target audience?
A: Our target audience is really anyone who has an interest in agriculture. It does not have to be just women, but we certainly are the driving force for behind the organization. When it comes to outreach, it really is the entire public. The disconnect between urban and rural areas continue to grow with each passing day. So, we are doing our best to help people understand where their food and fiber come from and those people who provide it.
Q: When and why did you get involved in Montana Agri-Women?
A: I have been a member of Montana Agri-Women for just under seven years. I have always been involved in agriculture organizations in some way. Starting with junior livestock associations and 4-H as a youth to Ag Communicators of Tomorrow and Saddle & Sirloin in college. I see the value of these organizations for the advancement of ag education. The Yosts introduced me to it and after one meeting I knew I wanted to be involved.
Q: Tell us about your members – who should be a part of your organization?
A: Our members are truly amazing. We represent all facets of Montana agriculture including beekeepers, grain growers, ranchers, the list goes on and on. One of my favorite things about our organization is that if I do not know the answer to one specific thing about a commodity or business in ag, I am one phone call away from a person that does. Our passion for our industry is what truly drives us. Just spend some time with us and anyone will share that passion too. It is infectious.
Q: What kind of legislative activities are you involved in?
A: We are very active in legislation, both on the local and state level but also nationally. It is important to note that Montana Agri-Women is nonpartisan. We form our position statements on items that are important to agriculture like private property rights, land and water usage, and natural resources among others each year. We advocate for legislation based upon those position statements and not based upon political affiliation. We visit the capital during session each National Ag Week. We also go to Washington D.C. each June to visit with the legislature. We contact them throughout the year if something that affects ag comes across our table.
Q: How has your membership, events/activities changed in the last year?
A: Like most organizations we have gone digital. We hosted our meetings and membership support gatherings digitally. We certainly miss meeting in person, but we are on our way to seeing each other again! Something that thankfully has stayed the same is our Christmas Tree at the Moss Mansion. For the past 6 years we have decorated an agriculture themed tree for the dining room at the Moss Mansion. It is a tradition we plan to continue for many years! Visit our webpage for more information on events and activities we have planned for the future.
Q: What else do you want people to know about your organization?
A: I think it is important to remember we are a resource for anyone that may have a question about agriculture or wants to get involved. We can help you find ag lessons or educational pieces if you are teacher, we can put you in touch with the right agency if you are having troubles with weeds in your back yard. The information is endless, and we are here to help. We are also open to anyone and everyone that wants to learn more or wants to be a voice for agriculture. Our mission statement is “To Promote a Positive Perception of Agriculture!” Join us! https://www.mtagriwomen.com/