When you think of agriculture, what are some of your first thoughts? Mine are livestock, passion, farming, hard work, long hours, and male farmers. Most do not think about women within this industry. We, women, are rapidly changing this thought process for many people.
Women are becoming more visible within the agriculture community. Today, 31% of farmers are women. This number has increased from the 14% that was recorded in 2012. Female farmers are leery of assuming the title as a farmer. They feel as if it is a man’s role to hold and many do not feel deserving of the title.
I am frequently asked why I chose this field to study. It always gives me a sense of pride to answer this question. I feel as if the agriculture industry has some of the best people in the world working within it. These are the people that care enough about others to provide their next meal while working long hours for little pay. There are many qualities that this industry holds that I myself value, hard work, dedication, accountability, and wisdom are a few.
Through my educational career, I have had the opportunity to meet many inspirational women within agriculture. In high school, I took many ag classes taught by Jennifer Waters. It was then that she sparked my interest in agriculture. With her passion and drive, she has become a role model for many people including myself. After transferring to Western, I decided to rush for Sigma Alpha. This is the professional agricultural
sorority here at WIU. Becoming a sister within this sorority has allowed me to network and gain knowledge from young women with the same interests as me. I am fortunate to have built these relationships with great girls that I will have forever.
Now more than ever, there are many opportunities for women to become involved in agriculture. The Women Changing the Face of Agriculture is a large conference held every year to show young girls this. Many ag businesses come as well as guest speakers for the girls to interact with. I have attended this conference multiple times and each time has been a valuable experience. Being able to learn from and listen to women that have been in agriculture for many years is profitable for ladies who want to become involved. These women are inspiring young ladies, like myself to get out in the fields without fear of judgment.
With many ways to be connected within agriculture today, women are contributing to the success of the industry, more than we thought was possible.
About the Author:
Hello, my name is April Leinberger and I am a Junior at Western Illinois University. I am currently studying Agriculture Science. I am involved in Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Ag Vocators. Though I did not grow up with a farm background, I am submerging myself into this industry. Choosing to attend
WIU was one of the best decisions that I have made within my educational career. I have made lifelong friends and gained invaluable education from this University. Next May, I will be graduating and taking the knowledge I have learned throughout my time here and applying it to the workforce.
To learn more about how to get involved visit these sites: womenchangingthefaceofagriculture.com & sigmaalpha.org
(I own all photos above)