For those inclined toward social media, especially Twitter, hashtags are the “easy button” for finding posts and resources on a particular topic of interest. #WomeninAg is a relatively new, and surprisingly robust, hashtag that devotees use to highlight the contributions, cares and concerns of women involved in agriculture.
What might you find tagged with #WomeninAg?
For starters, you’ll find the results of a recent Farm Bureau survey conducted to determine the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture today. The survey identified communicating effectively, establishing and achieving goals, and strategic planning as top leadership skills for women in agriculture to master.
“The survey results point to a need for a deeper dive into what leadership traits women in agriculture are interested in learning about in order to achieve their goals,” said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona row crop farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.
Another topline finding of the survey is that most of the women surveyed are comfortable advocating about agriculture, and most believe they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. Social media is the preferred avenue of advocating about agriculture among the women surveyed.
So how are women doing when it comes to advocating about agriculture?
They’re doing quite well, apparently. Several women were recently honored by America’s Farmers, in part for sharing their passion for agriculture with others. Shelly Boshart Davis, an Oregon farmer who grows grass seed, wheat, radishes, hazelnuts and bales grass straw, was honored as the National Farm Mom of the Year for 2015. Regional finalists are Amy Kelsay of Indiana (Northeast), Megan Seibel of Virginia (Southeast), Sara Ross of Iowa (Midwest) and Shelley Heinrich of Texas (Southwest).
Also popping up under #WomeninAg, the Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence, which acknowledges the outstanding achievements of women in the agricultural business sector, is now accepting nominations. The awards will be presented at the fourth annual Women in Agribusiness Summit in September. So named for Demeter, the goddess of the harvest from ancient Greek mythology (how cool is that?), awards will be given in three categories recognizing a Leader of the Year, Innovator of the Year and Company/Organization of the Year.
The Agriculture Department’s series on women leaders in agriculture is certainly worth a gander, too. Here you can peruse features about women leaders across agriculture who are opening doors for their peers and contributing to the larger conversation about #WomeninAg.
Finally, proving that interest about women in agriculture is not just a U.S. trend, our neighbors to the north at the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council recently launched a research project called Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture. The federally funded study aims to examine and address critical barriers to advancement that women face in agriculture.
Whatever your interests related to women in agriculture, try giving #WomeninAg a whirl next time you’re on social media. You might be surprised and pleased with what you find.
Cyndie Shearing Sirekis is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.