By Ellie Schmidgall, OHS Torch reporter
On Friday, March 4th, seven ladies from the Olympia FFA attended the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference hosted at Illinois State University where there were guest speakers, a career fair, and workshops.
President and founder of FarmHer, Marji Guyler-Alaniz, was the 2016 conference keynote speaker. She spoke about her company that photographs women in farming. The goal of her work is to change the face of agriculture.
There was a career fair going on during the conference. The fair featured large agriculture companies such as Becks, John Deere, Pioneer, Syngenta, Cargill, and more. Colleges were also represented at the fair including Illinois State University, Greenville College, and the University of Illinois.
Junior FFA member and sentinel, Ashley Miller, said, “It was truly a great experience. I didn’t really know what to expect since I hadn’t been before, but it was awesome getting to walk around and talk to large companies.”
There were 27 available workshops at conference this year. Examples of some of the workshops are “Being an Advocate for Agriculture”, “Becoming a Professional 101”, and “FarmHer: Shining a Light on Women in Ag.” Members were each assigned two workshops to attend throughout the day.
Joan Harrison, an Olympia FFA Alumni member and substitute teacher, led a workshop called “Cattle Reproduction Using Breeding Betsy.” The class was all about artificial insemination and how to do it. Members got to practice artificial insemination on a life scale model of a cow as well as a real reproductive tract.
Senior FFA member, Bailey Hoerbert, said, “I never realized how underestimated women are in agriculture. The conference really put a light on how women are underrepresented and how we should change that.”
This conference is an annual event that lasts from 8 am to 4 pm. The location of the event varies yearly. Over 30 schools were present this year.