Mar 06 1922

On Equal Footing

Indiana Farm Bureau’s first president, John G. Brown calls a state meeting to outline a program for women in the federation.
The woman's program materializes in what was at first called the Social and Educational (S. and E.) Committee. They speak out for better homes, better schools, and a richer and more varied life for adults and youth.
Feb 03 1923

Farm Women Make Waves

The S. and E. Committee, composed of 10 appointed district woman leaders, meets in Indianapolis and outlines a more extensive and definitive program.

The new program would ensure wider and more active interest among the farm women. The state committee recommends that at least half of the committee on membership in each county and township be farm women.

The state committee also recommends that a survey is done on the conditions of the community relative to their social, education and economical welfare, and that the community program be made so that these phases of welfare may be improved.

Nov 01 1923

A Seat at the Table

Edna Sewell becomes the first woman elected to the Indiana Farm Bureau board of directors.

Edna Sewell is elected as second vice president and is later named head of the women's department in 1929.

Her philosophy, “you can't be loyal indefinitely to a fertilizer bag, an oil drum or an insurance policy," injects moral and spiritual values into Indiana Farm Bureau.

Oct 27 1926

Not Stuck in Committee

The S. and E. Committee becomes an official department of Indiana Farm Bureau.

Verna Hatch of Allen County is chosen as department head.

Aug 01 1957

Gross Takes the Wheel

Lois Gross is appointed state chair of the Women's Committee and second vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau.

Under Lois Gross’s leadership, the governing body of the Women's Department is renamed the State Women's Committee.

Gross serves Indiana Farm Bureau first as a volunteer, but her position as director of the Women's Department becomes a part-time, paid staff position following the formation of the State Women’s Committee.
Jan 01 1978

A Full Time Duty

Judith Carley is hired as director of the Women's Department.

Carley coordinates work in the many areas of the women's activities, including health, safety, farm product promotion, public relations and legislation.

She is the first full-time staff director of the Women’s Department. The position previously was part time.

Dec 09 1980

The Hegel Effect

Carolyn Hegel is named Indiana Farm Bureau’s second vice president and chair of the State Women's Committee.

She assumes the duties of Director of the Women’s Department at Indiana Farm Bureau in 1993. Hegel becomes the Midwest Region Representative on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s National Women’s Committee, a member of the AFBF net farm income study committee, and is appointed by former Governor Robert Orr to serve on the Great Lakes States Development Committee.

Hegel is quoted as saying that Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Department, “has never worked on ‘women's programs’ but on programs that affect the bottom line in farming.”

Nov 01 1982

Sowing Seeds in the Future

Farming the Classroom, (known today as Ag in the Classroom), is launched.
Farming the Classroom is designed to teach children about agriculture and nutrition in 30-minute lessons and brings farm men and women into elementary schools to tell the students about various aspects of agriculture and farm life. The Women's Department also hosts teachers’ workshops, and they work together to develop educational videos about agriculture and food products.
Dec 01 1987

Outstanding in Their Field

The State Women's Committee changes the name of their annual contest from Farm Wife of the Year to Farm Woman of Achievement.

This award is given annually to one "outstanding" woman and is announced at the state Farm Bureau convention. The purpose is, “to recognize a farm woman for her achievements and contribution to the farm family, home, business, Farm Bureau, agriculture and community and service programs.”

The award also recognizes the 8.2 percent increase in the number of women farm operators and the 12.8 percent increase in acreage operated by women since 1982.
Dec 08 1989

"ACE" in the Hole

The State Women's Committee establishes the Agricultural Cultural Exchange (ACE) Ambassador Program.

The ACE Ambassador program funds foreign trips to various parts of the world for 10 farm couples. Upon their return, couples present programs at district meetings to share with others what they had learned.

The program is created following Carolyn Hegel’s trip to Western Europe with AFBF’s National Women’s Committee, where Hegel is surprised to be learning from the European farmers and not teaching American farming techniques.

Jan 01 2007

Chism Takes Charge

Isabella Chism takes office as Indiana Farm Bureau’s 2nd vice president and chair of State Women’s Committee.

Isabella Chism of Galveston also serves on the Indiana Farm Bureau’s board of directors and its affiliated companies, including Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.

Isabella Chism helps Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee advance in the development of female leadership skills across the state. She oversees the appointment of the state education coordinators to ensure the farm voice in the classroom aligns with current curriculum. Chism also oversees the name change of the Farming in the Classroom program to Ag in the Classroom to align with the established USDA program.
Mar 01 2008

New Name, Same Vision

State Women’s Committee becomes the Women’s Leadership Committee.
Dec 01 2014

A Proper Title

The title for district and county Woman Leaders is changed to district and county “Education and Outreach Coordinators.”

This recommendation follows letters from county leaders asking Indiana Farm Bureau to standardize the title across the state.