Opening the eyes of young women to careers in agriculture

If the participants are as enthusiastic as the presenters, a new event aimed at encouraging girls and young women to consider a career in ag will be a major hit.

“The response from the presenters has been great — I have filled up my speaker spots faster than anything else I’ve done,” said Sarah Linde, program director for Ag for Life. “The interest from the industry has been phenomenal.”

Feed Your Future is a day-long event aimed at showing girls and young women in Grades 9 to 12 the wide range of ag career prospects.

Many young women don’t realize how diverse those career options are, said Linde.

“We see a lot of rural students who don’t look beyond farming if they want to be in agriculture,” she said. “We want to show them the diversity of careers in agriculture, as well as empower them to be part of an industry that is growing in Alberta right now.”

The sector is also changing, with more women moving into roles where there were once few, if any, female role models.

“More women are pursuing non-traditional roles, leading them to agriculture. This will offer ample opportunity to go beyond farming and ranching.” – Sarah Linde.
photo: Supplied

“We’ve noticed a shift in social norms in some job roles,” said Linde. “We believe that more women are pursuing non-traditional roles, leading them to agriculture. This will offer ample opportunity to go beyond farming and ranching.”

The day will feature a variety of speakers including a representative from the Canadian Mental Health Association, another who will tackle personal development, and a nutritionist will share how diet affects performance. Sarah Adams, owner of Alberta Girl Acres (a flower operation near Vulcan), will talk about how she started her enterprise.

The participants will also participate in a career and networking session with professionals from across the agriculture industry.

“So far I have everything from primary producers to a CEO and a scientist with the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association, some chartered professional accountants and photographers,” said Linde. “We’ll try to show a diversity of career opportunities and those women will be there for the girls to network with.”

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This portion of the day will see young women spend 10 minutes with each professional woman. These mini sessions will give participants a chance to ask the professionals about their career path, their education and how they got to where they are, said Linde.

This is the first time Ag for Life has hosted an event focused on young women, but the participants are at an age where they’re making decisions about their careers, she added.

The event takes place on March 18 in Calgary (at The Village: Brentwood’s Lifestyle Centre) and is free (with lunch provided).

Registration takes place through schools and so far, Linde has registrants from Calgary, Lethbridge, Bow Island, Beiseker, Olds, Blackie and other communities close to Calgary. She is hoping that about 100 girls will attend.

On the registration form, participants were asked about their career interests and they answered with a wide range of options, including urban agriculture, beekeeping, herbal medicine, cattle ranching and agribusiness, she said.

Ag for Life (which has offered programming for 11 years, and has done many events on agriculture education and farm safety) plans to hold Feed Your Future events in Edmonton and southern Alberta next year.

For more information, go to agricultureforlife.ca.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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