When asked to describe my first time attending the Advancing Women in Ag Conference in Calgary in March, two words come to mind; amazing and inspiring. I am in my third year of agronomy at the University of Saskatchewan. Through a sponsorship from Ag-West Bio, I was given the opportunity to attend the event alongside 460 other women in the industry. The two-day event held remarkable speakers, sharing messages and advice relating to their own personal experiences, accomplishments and challenges. Although each speaker told their own story, the underlying theme of the conference was the importance of showing support and empowering fellow females in the industry. 

Throughout history, women have always played an important role in agriculture, but as the speakers emphasized, our role is changing. Women are no longer considered “just the farmer’s wife” but rather are valued as agricultural professionals. Women contribute to important decisions made about daily operations on farms and in businesses and their jobs; they are appreciated and needed for the success of the industry. 

The speakers also emphasized the importance of being an advocate for the industry of agriculture. It has been evident that consumers have questions about where their food is coming from and how it is raised. We as Ag professionals need to share our personal stories with consumers in order to connect with them, and answer questions about what we do and why we do it to grow the food. The difficult conversations with consumers are encouraged but it was emphasized that in order to effectively advocate for the industry, it is essential to listen to consumers’ questions and concerns, and to reply in a positive, respectful manner. Listening is integral to advocating. 

Throughout the conference, I had the privilege of meeting many inspirational women. Everyone that I met gave me valuable advice to consider as a future agricultural professional starting my career. Some of the advice calmed my anxieties about graduating and not knowing which part of this exciting industry I want to contribute to. Through the stories that I heard, I realized that at any age, you do not have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life; you just have to know what you want to do next. This industry is full of opportunity and every aspect of it contributes to a greater goal of producing healthy, sustainable food. That alone makes me excited to graduate and begin working fulltime!

I walked away from the conference feeling inspired and even more confident that I chose the right career path. I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other industry. Agriculture is full of passionate, hardworking, and inspirational people. Through events such as the Advancing Women in Ag Conference and the networking events that go along with it, we as women in agriculture are able to make connections, which in turn allow us to empower and support our fellow coworkers, friends and colleagues.

Photo: University of Saskatchewan students Danean Edgar, Katy Wychopen and Robyn Kary


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