Writer’s note: As a finalist in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Excellence in Agriculture competition, I had the opportunity to share my background and contributions to agriculture, but also pressing issues I see impacting agriculture today. I’ll be covering these issues in my blog.
While the agricultural industry has come a long way in becoming an open environment for women, there’s still an underlying, often unintentional perception of the role a women plays in production agriculture, and even the jobs that support this field. More and more women are becoming sole farm owners, or are sharing the decision making with their husbands or families, and also working in careers that directly work with farmers. More young women are planning to work in agriculture. Are we really doing our best to make this an open, welcoming environment?
You might be thinking: Why should I care? Isn’t this a women’s issue? We should work to shift mindsets for a few reasons. On a personal level we all have connections to women: daughters, grandchildren, wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends. From an industry perspective there will be a huge shift in the workforce in the near future. Baby boomers will be retiring in business and farming. There will be a greater number of women stepping into roles. We need to help build a welcoming environment for this next generation, especially if we want to keep women in agriculture, especially as farmers and in careers that directly serve farmers. Finally, whether it’s a niece, neighbor, co-worker or colleague I encourage others to keep an open mind about the roles and abilities of women in agriculture
More action: Stepping up
The perceptions of women can continue to change by our own actions we take in the agricultural community and related organizations. Here’s what I’ve been doing as a farmer, who happens to be female:
I'll always be a part of the ag industry. It's just who I am. It's what I love and it's a way of life. It all started when I was a freshman in high school when I took my first agriscience course in horticulture. I loved the hands on, real life application of the life sciences. I was immediately drawn to the FFA and its opportunities in leadership and career development. And from there my love of everything agriculture started to flourish.
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.