Women in agriculture told to find mentors

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Sadie Thorson, 4, of Lafayette, competes in the pedal pull at Farmfest Thursday. The three-day event concluded Thursday at Gilfillan Estate.

GILFILLAN ESTATE — Minnesota female agricultural leaders had advice for women seeking agricultural careers at Farmfest Thursday.

“Find mentors and build relationships. And it’s who knows you and your work, not just who you know,” said Center for Rural Policy President and CEO Julie Tesch.

Minnesota Farm Bureau District 3 Director and Olson Organics owner Carolyn Olson urged women to serve on boards and committees and not to be afraid of walking through the doors of leaders.

“When an opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to take it. A lot of small details help make a farm successful,” said Maple Wood Farms owner Sara Hewitt.

Olson said it takes a team approach to run a successful farm.

Land O’Lakes Senior Transformation Manager Corey Ramsden Scott called herself “a city kid who made it in agriculture.”

Tesch said she grew up on a dairy farm near Waseca during the 1980s farm crisis, left the farm at 18, worked in Washington D.C. for 20 years and came back to the farm because she considered rural America a wonderful place to live.

“When I went into agriculture, my dad told me it would be difficult and it was,” said Tesch.

Hewitt recommended the MARL (Minnesota Agriculture & Rural Leadership) program, offered through University of Minnesota Extension that helped her network and appreciate different leadership styles and tools for personal growth.

“Surround yourself with good people as friends and with your family. Just do it. Get involved in organizations,” Tesch said.

“Change has to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to stand up and talk about what to do,” Hewitt said. “Safety is No. 1 for me. My husband and I both work in ag jobs besides the farm. Working with the next farm generation is probably my greatest job.”

Olson urged women to be involved with FFA and 4-H.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com


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