This was the first year my almost two-year-old daughter rode in the combine.

She kept her Papa entertained in the cab with shouts of “Combine beans, combine beans!” and singing the “hotdog” song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I can already see her love for the family farm sprouting tiny roots. As those roots take hold, I wonder what the future of agriculture looks like for her.

I’ve experienced uncomfortable moments as a woman in agriculture, an industry historically dominated by men. However, I’ve had some of the most amazing support as well.  

What keeps me most optimistic are the examples I can point my daughter toward of women solidifying our place in the industry.  

Women like Dr. Wendy Wintersteen who went from one of the first females in extension to work in integrated pest management to being the first female president at Iowa State University.

Today, almost half of the extension field specialists covering the state of Iowa are women. (And let me tell you, they know their stuff.)

I’m also proud to work for an organization with female leadership. Sharyl Bruning, a Monona County farmer, was elected by her fellow farmers on December 7 to Iowa Farm Bureau’s state board of directors.

At American Farm Bureau, Alisha Schwertner is the chair—or more accurately, chairwoman—of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, representing Farm Bureau members under the age of 35 across the entire nation.  

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention pioneers like Dr. Temple Grandin who established many of the livestock handling standards used today, often amidst significant criticism due to her gender.

More female leaders are also on the rise with women making up more than half of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences undergraduates.

The last U.S. Census of Agriculture showed women make up 36% of American farmers. And there are growing numbers of women scientists, researchers, seed dealers, communications professionals and more.

Truly, it’s an exciting time, and it will take all of us—men and women—to encourage the next generation of young women to enter this industry.

As for my husband and I, we are going to raise our daughter to have the same confidence and “farm strong” nature as her older brother. We’ll make sure she knows there’s a place for her in agriculture.

And luckily, there’s a whole lot of incredible women who will be sending her the same message.  

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