[Source: INEDA, 03.2016 | Keywords: Women, Agriculture, Farming]
Women play many important roles in agriculture. Unfortunately, they are usually in the minority and often overlooked as a vital part of the industry. That image is starting to change. More and more women are finding their voice and are taking to social media, blogs and so forth to advocate for women working in agriculture and the ag industry. Following are three women leading this charge with their energy, voices, determination and knowledge.
Marji Guyer Alaniz | Ag Business/Advocate
A little over three years ago, Marji Guyer-Alaniz embarked on a journey to shine a light on women working in agriculture. Today, FarmHer has grown into a thriving business, complete with a vibrant website, catchy merchandise, informative conferences, an online community and soon, a television show.
Marji got the idea for FarmHer after viewing the Super Bowl ad “And God Made a Farmer.” “I saw the commercial and loved it. However, two weeks later I read an article that pointed out that while it was a beautiful commercial, it forgot to show women farmers. This really stuck with me.”
She started taking pictures showcasing the real role women play in agriculture. “I took it to heart and wanted to do something that highlighted the important role of these women,” stressed Marji. “It is important that these women are celebrated for their accomplishments, given a platform to share their stories and are able to inspire others through connection.”
To date, Marji has photographed 115 women while traveling to 12 states. “I didn’t plan on this being a business when I first started. I simply photographed a few women and posted their images on my website,” she explained. “When I started getting feedback from women on how much they loved it, I decided to form a business and started selling merchandise.”
Her initial design of “Love the Land, Care for the Community, Feed the People,” has become the overriding theme of FarmHer. “It was something I came up with early on based on the women I had met,” said Marji. “They love what they do or they wouldn’t be doing it and they have a strong desire to feed the community and one another.”
FarmHer now hosts four GROW conferences a year for young women ages 15-23 with an interest in agriculture. An online community was also launched last fall. “This was a very big step for us,” said Marji. “Showing images is one thing, but giving a connection point for these women was huge. We are excited to start building this community and are working on an app to provide easy access to the site.”
Some exciting things are on the horizon for FarmHer. RFD TV and FarmHer recently joined together to help bring Marji’s imagery and journey to life on television. “We have already started filming at farms, ranches and agribusinesses around the country,” said Marji. “The program will be shown through the lens of my camera, taking what I do on camera and moving it to video.” It is set to air starting September 2016.
In addition, Marji plans to take FarmHer to larger events, such as state fairs, rodeos and so forth. “I’m excited to get our message in front of a whole different audience,” she said.
“If what I do can help one person feel more positive about what they do, it’s a huge win in my book,” concluded Marji. “If it helps them carry on in the future, it’s more than I could ever ask for.”
To learn more about FarmHer, visit FarmHer.com.
Kellie Blair | Farmer/Agronomist/Advocate
Kellie Blair is a 4th generation Iowa farmer, wife, mom, agronomist and advocate. She and her husband, AJ, raise pigs and cattle and grow corn, soybeans and cover crops on their farm. Kellie also serves as a Watershed Coordinator in the Boone River Watershed, assisting in the coordination and facilitation of farmers and other stakeholders on watershed activities as part of the Water Quality Initiative.
When she isn’t at work, helping out on the farm or raising her kids, Kellie can be found speaking at conferences about cover crops and watersheds, advocating for agriculture, volunteering with CommonGround Iowa and writing her “Home Again Finnegan” blog.
Kellie got the advocacy bug while working for The Maschhoffs as an agronomist in their environmental department. “I loved working with farmers in the state and helping them follow the rules and regulations regarding manure,” said Kellie. “At the same time, I discovered there was a lot of misinformation out there. So, I decided to start sharing positive messages about agriculture.”
She feels that CommonGround provides women with a terrific platform. “Volunteering for CommonGround has been a great experience,” said Kellie. “I have enjoyed getting to know other women in agriculture and talking with them about their farming operations and strategies. More than anything, it’s also a terrific way to connect with consumers and share our message.”
She concluded, “There are so many opportunities for women in agriculture today. I am thrilled to see this growth and the increasing number of ag blogs and organizations out there advocating for agriculture. It’s also exciting to know that I won’t have to do this forever, since more women are advocating for agriculture every day.”
Connect with Kellie at FindourCommonGround.com or HomeAgainFinnegan.blogspot.com.
Cristen Clark | Farmer/Advocate
Cristen Clark is a born and raised, 6th generation Iowa farm girl. She and her husband, Mike, raise hogs in modern barns and have breeding stock that they show in smaller barns and outdoors. In addition, Cristen farms with her parents and sister, where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle.
“I love being able to take my kids (Halle-7 and Barrett- 4) out in the morning or evening to share experiences on the farm that are important to me,” said Cristen. “Knowing that these experiences will help shape the type of people they become is pretty special.”
She added, “My dad always gave my sister and me the reins to try things for ourselves because he believed in us. At the core of anyone in ag is the importance to have someone behind you who believes in you.”
Cristen strives to be this this support system for other women in agriculture through her blog “Food and Swine” and by volunteering with CommonGround Iowa, the Iowa Food and Family Project and the National Pork Board.
“The best part is giving strength to other women. I love to break down those stereotypes,” said Cristen. “My goal is to raise awareness of what we are doing, to empower women and to inspire young girls. “The best farmers will get the job done and prevail. It doesn’t matter if they are male or female.”
She concluded, “Farming has a huge purpose and being able to connect with other women doing the same thing is like a farm sorority. We are all tied together through the work we do. It’s a blessing to be able to connect with others, especially the younger generation turning the page and coming back to the farm.”
Connect with Cristen at FoodandSwine.com or FindourCommonGround.com.