The Cream of the Crop: Women in Ag
Growing and thriving aren’t just terms to describe crops for the Women in Ag. Their organization also aims to foster an environment within the agriculture industry where women can do just that.
After completing her commerce degree, Ginelle Pidwerbesky found herself farming with her father near Borden, SK. She knew of other women involved with farming and agriculture, but struggled to find ways to connect with them. Initially Women in Ag began as a calendar project, allowing women to share their stories across Saskatchewan. The calendars were a hit, creating a community of women across the province.
In 2012, Ginelle, along with co-founders Kim Keller and Jaclyn Baum, officially founded Women in Ag. Together, their mission is to empower, support and connect women from all across the industry, as well as to honour the women who paved the way in the industry. They also provide tools to help women feel more comfortable in their roles and strengthen their leadership skills.
“We’ve seen the organization expand exponentially since then,” Ginelle says, “We now have eight board members and many volunteers running our committees.” In addition to the group’s board, they’ve recently opened up general membership. For $30 a year, members gain access to a closed Facebook page where they can connect and participate in discussions about issues which impact women in agriculture and the industry at large, as well as seeing and sharing job opportunities. Members also receive a 10 per cent discount on merchandise and event tickets.
Though the board and its members are spread across the province, they use technology to their advantage when it comes to staying connected, as well as meeting in person for general meetings twice per year. Despite the distance, the group remains true to their commitment to connecting women across the province and across generations.
Women in Ag has something for women of every age, offering mentorships, both as a way to connect generations and to honour the women who paved the way. Autumn Lawson, the board’s youngest member and Events Chair, joined in February 2017, in part due to the mentorship opportunities: “Everyone on the board is super open with sharing information and processes and always willing to answer my questions.” Women in Ag also extends their community initiatives to children and youth, including a scholarship at the University of Saskatchewan and donating money to Ag in the Classroom, an organization that connects students to agriculture.
Ginelle notes that Women in Ag’s reach has extended beyond women recently. Because of the diversity of topics prevented at their events and conferences, including succession planning, mental health, and building a professional reputation, men are becoming involved too.
Their next event, Connect Ag: The Heart of the Farm, takes place November 1-2 in Saskatoon at TCU Place. For those two days, Women in Ag will be celebrating the efforts of farm women after the harvest season. During the days, there will be a trade show, fitness classes breakout sessions, and speakers including Olympian Heather Moyse, Iowan farmer Jolene Brown, and Hillberg & Berk founder Rachel Mielke. And what would a celebration be without a party or two? A formal banquet will take place on the evening of November 1, in addition to a tailgate party on the 2nd, so don’t forget your dancing shoes! Ticket sales begin on June 1.
Women in Ag
By Jenni Lawrence Photos Rachelle Hodgins Photography