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By Erin Smith

During Leadership Week at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Camp at White Lake, one of the features was a Women in Agriculture panel which offered insight into the issues facing agriculture.


The panel was moderated by NC FFA State Vice President Anna Young. And, the panel consisted of Beth Farrell, who serves as the Agricultural Program Specialist with the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Jennifer Overholt with BASF, and Marlowe Vaughn with Feed the Dialogue. One of the messages shared is the need to find your voice, and not to give in to stereotypes about farmers and farming.


Each panelist agreed that the face of agriculture is changing, and women need to change the misconceptions of who farmers are and what they should look like.


“The biggest challenge for everyone is breaking the stereotype,” said Farrell.


The panelists also encouraged everyone to educate themselves about the issues facing agriculture. They encouraged all of the FFA members present to be aware of proposed policies at the local, state and federal levels.


Overholt reminded those present that agriculture is a business. She advised everyone to find an aspect of farming they are passionate about — marketing, digital farming, or animal science — and let that guide them to their career choice.


Vaughn added, “There are so many things in agriculture you can do. It’s not just being on the farm anymore.”


When asked about the barriers faced by women, the panelists all agreed that it boils down to stereotypes.


“Stereotypes need to change. Limitations are sometimes perceived and not real,” said Overholt.


Vaughn said, “There is no gender in Agriculture.”


“The biggest challenge for everyone is breaking the stereotypes. Share your experiences,” said Farrell.


The panel also reminded those gathered, that they are leaders in their own FFA groups, and to remember to engage others and educate them about agriculture. They also noted there are plenty of career pathways for women to become more involved in agriculture. All three panelists encouraged the ladies present to find their passion, and let that guide them to their career choice.