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Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference: A Powerful Source for Growth

Posted on November 20 2017 | Author: Hanne Nauwelaerts

The majority of my work experience has been obtained on my family farm. Growing up and working in this environment motivated me to pursue  an education in agriculture; I am currently a third-year Food and Agricultural Business student at the University of Guelph. This past summer I completed my first co-op work term as Operations Assistant at a farrow-to-finish hog operation. In this role I was responsible for managing QuickBooks, creating an Environmental Farm Plan, and developing a Nutrient Management Strategy. Since then, my passion for agriculture has led me to my second co-op work term and current position at Bioenterprise Corporation where I am the Strategic Partnerships Assistant. I work alongside the Program Manager, Corporate Relations to support the Bioenterprise Partnership and Membership Programs to help agri-tech entrepreneurs grow their business. The learning opportunities that I have been exposed to in this role allowed me to realize the great possibilities that exist within agriculture.

As part of my role as Strategic Partnerships Assistant, I was invited to join the organization's Farmer Connection Taskforce (Ag Connection); a committee where producers, entrepreneurs and academia join forces to develop new innovations in agriculture. Since connecting with producers and industry representatives is a critical component of this committee, my supervisor and the rest of the Farmer Connection Taskforce team encouraged me to participate in the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference Student program.

Iris Meck Communications Inc., the creator and host of the event, seeks companies to sponsor young women in agriculture studies at Canadian universities and colleges to attend the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference. The conference provides students with excellent skills and tools needed to be an effective leader, examples of future careers, and networking opportunities with producers, entrepreneurs, board members and executives. In turn, students are asked to describe their education, previous work experience, why they are interested in attending the conference, and how they expect the conference to benefit their career objectives. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the students to attend this event and incredible learning experience.

Attending the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference allowed me to once again verify that I am on the right path, as agriculture is a great industry to be a part of. One of the most significant references that stood out to me was a quote by Mrs. Ngoma that Maimouna Abbass of Woods Empire Investments shared during her presentation: "Once or twice in life you need a doctor or a lawyer, but you need a farmer three times a day." This important concept was mentioned more than once throughout the conference. Jolene Brown, a farmer and family business consultant, delivered an engaging presentation and pointed out "if it weren't for agriculture and farmers, we'd all be hungry and naked." From Amanda Elzinga- Pugh, an Account Manager at Merck Animal Health, I learned that setting goals that seem unachievable push you out of your comfort zone. When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, she suggests replacing realistic with risk-taking. This goes hand in hand with Jolene Brown's reminder that "if we always do that we've always done, we will be out of business." This new approach to goal setting will not only have a direct impact on your personal growth, it also has the ability to positively impact your community as it will open doors to new possibilities. Overall, the speakers that presented at the event offered quality advice to women in agriculture.

In conclusion, the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference exposed me to valuable networking opportunities and speakers who have made great advances in agriculture. Due to this exceptional experience, I would highly recommend this event to women looking to enter the agricultural industry. The conference is a great source of inspiration that has the power to motivate anyone in attendance to grasp the opportunities available to women in agriculture. I would, therefore, like to take this time to thank Iris Meck and her team for organizing such a significant and inspiring event.

The Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference took place on October 30th and 31st at the Hilton/ Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.


Hanne Nauwelaerts
Strategic Partnership Assistant






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