Growing up on a corn and soybean farm in rural west central Illinois, I learned at a young age that it is “cool” to be a farmer. In elementary school, my fellow classmates and I would come to class and share our own unique stories. Most of the stories consisted of riding in the combine with dad, taking a load of grain to the elevator with grandpa, or being mom’s side-kick and taking the guys dinner during harvest. At the time, we thought we were big stuff.
At that young age, I never thought I would actually choose a career in agriculture. However, here I am majoring in agriculture in college. I had hopes of being a school teacher, a doctor, or even better, the first female president of the United States. As I got older, I came to the realization that agriculture is much broader than what I thought it was when I was seven. Farming is more than a hobby, it is a lifestyle. It is through this way of life that my family makes a living.
After coming to this realization in my mid-teen years, I decided that I wanted to be a part of this amazing industry for life. I became active in FFA in high school and you could often find me working on the family farm. Seeing the deep passion my dad and his dad had for the farm, I knew that I wanted to help carry on the family name. This led me to my decision to major in Agriculture and minor in Agronomy.
I know everyone’s story is not the same as mine, but there is one thing that all of us women in agriculture can agree on; it is awesome to be a part of such an amazing industry. We would not change a single thing that led us to where we are today. Here are 5 reasons why being a female in agriculture is awesome.
Our days usually consist of talking, like all the time.
I have found that no matter the area within agriculture, you are either on the phone or at the farmstead talking to a farmer all day long. This past summer as a crop scout, the senior agronomist I worked for was on the phone answering questions or giving suggestions more times than not. My roommate spent her summer as a grain merchandiser. She said that she was on the phone all day long giving the most current market prices or creating contracts. Females involved in seed or chemical sales get the privilege of meeting with the grower on his farm. If you’re a gal like me, you love to talk all the time (hence the reason I placed this as #1).
The friends you make, the networks you create, and the groups you form.
Women in agriculture are great at interacting with one another. Social media has made reason #2 so much more feasible. Through Facebook, I am a member of the Women in Agriculture group. In this group, ladies post about what is going on on their farm or ask for advice regarding certain topics. On Instagram and Twitter, I follow many other female agriculturalists from all over the country. It is always exciting to see what is going on throughout our country’s vast landscapes.
Conferences, meetings, conventions, and educational trips allow women in agriculture to expand our network and create more contacts. In June 2015 and 2016, I went on the Illinois Pork Leadership Institute trip sponsored by the Illinois Pork Producers. On these two trips, I was able to make connections with other individuals that share the same passion for the industry as I do. In fact, I talk to most of them every single week.
Independence is something we come by.
Women are pretty independent to begin with, but have you ever met a farm girl? We are most definitely independent, strong-willed, and often times bull-headed. We believe in making sure the job is done right, efficiently, and on time. I mean, in farming, that is kind of essential. Independence allows women in agriculture to have more freedom in what we choose to do.
Life is never dull.
As we all know, the markets, the weather, and agriculture in general are constantly changing. Therefore, with new changes in technology, seed genetics, and regulations, we are inclined to keep up with the newest and latest trends. This allows life to stay exciting and get a little hectic at times. Or, if you are like me, you enjoy a little challenge from time to time to keep things interesting.
Another point I would like to add to this is that if something can go wrong, it will. Combine breaks down for two days during harvest, check. Ten days straight of rain in the spring, check. Farming has shown me to expect the worst, and thank God when you were wrong.
We are a breed all our own.
Females in agriculture are equipped with a very diverse skill set. As mentioned previously, we can talk all day long about anything from grain prices to the weather. Since it is my background, I have related most of the experiences back to grain production. However, there are many female livestock farmers/ranchers. No matter what our focus is on, we all face any challenge that comes our way head on. We embrace being faced with adversity and set out to conquer the task with fierce determination. With all of this in mind, we truly do have a soft side too. Our hands help heifer’s calve, pull weeds from the garden, and prepare dinner for our families.
It is the combination of these characteristics and the grace of God that make us who we are and being a female in agriculture awesome!
Hi, I’m Hannah Wollbrink! I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture with an option in Business and minoring in Finance and Agronomy. Like my blog post states, I grew up on a grain farm along the Mississippi River, about 40 minutes west of campus. In my free time, I can be found spending time with friends and family, working on some DIY project or doing something outside! Follow me on Instagram or Twitter @hannahwollbrink.