One of the recent events I’ve had the pleasure of being part of is the 2015 Women Changing the Face of Agriculture. I must preface with my feelings about being a women in agriculture. Women’s rights isn’t a topic which concerns me in most cases. But, you are a woman, right? Yes, very much so but I don’t want to be given something because of my label. I want to earn my successes.
I’ve spent most of my life connected to the agriculture industry. From the age of 12 until now, its been part of my life. During this time period, I’ve never felt threatened or inadequate because our industry as been labeled a man’s field. With that said, I have friends who are extremely successful who have been told they can’t make as much as the male counterpart because they are a woman. I will admit that if this type of situation was in my catalog of experiences, my feelings may be different. The closest to this type of experience occurred in college.
With a strong desire to work with livestock, I began applying to work at our University farm. In general, the opinion of those managing the farm was that girls could only mow the grass and milk the cows. I wanted to run the skid loader, move hay, process piglets and help during beef calving season. Regardless of the unstated rules, I was going make sure these experiences were fulfilled. So I found a way to overcome the circumstances by working hard and in turn gaining the confidence and respect of the management.
While sitting amongst the attendees of the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference, it occurred to me that I had unknowingly followed the advice of our keynote speaker Ann Daane of CNH Industries. It was a unique ah-ha moment as I listened to her tell the 800+ high school and college aged audience, “successful women in agriculture are not afraid to fail. Don’t let statistics hold you back. If agriculture is your passion, go for it!”
Ann wrapped my feelings on women rights into a gleaming package and affirmed that my viewpoint isn’t as unusual as I previously thought. Whether I am male or female, I want to be successful because of hard work, perseverance and the sweat above my brow.
The conference, organized by the Illinois Agri-Women, was an amazing event which filled me with pride as a woman in Illinois agriculture. More importantly, its instilled a desire to make sure we are changing the face of women in agriculture by not holding ourselves back due to fear, statistics and not being flexible.
I’m excited to see what next year holds!