State makes push for more women in agriculture

Illinois is bringing up a new generation of women ready to break into the agriculture industry.

Over 500 young women recently attended the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture event organized by Illinois Agri-Women, which is designed to expose high school and college students to the wide variety of career options in agriculture.

Susan Wall, president of Illinois Agri-Women, said the event has grown so much they actually had to turn away people this year.

“There is a growing population of young women who are wanting to be in the agriculture field and to do some sort of business,” Wall said.

According to the Census of Agriculture, 14 percent of farmers are women. But the young women at the event learned that being in agriculture doesn’t mean only farming.

Some of the career paths highlighted included grain analyst, logistics analyst, recruiter for a large agricultural company and dean of a college of agriculture.

“It’s just fabulous that we have so many younger people now who are going into agriculture now and getting involved in all these different kinds of occupations that help to support what we do,” Wall said. “They should feel confident and happy with what they chose to do because I know in today’s society they can make it and they can be a great contribution to agriculture.”

According to Wall, women make up a third of participants in a local agriculture leadership class that mentors emerging professionals.

Wall believes that while it may still feel intimidating for young Illinois women to break into the agriculture industry, women are able to contribute to it in a variety of ways in the state.

“I think the young women today have much more confidence and they know they can do it if they just get out there – they may have to work a little harder to proof themselves,” Wall said.

–Illinois News Network

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