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This month, we at Truterra are celebrating some of the remarkable women who make up more than fifty percent of our team. United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is focused on including new voices in agriculture. We can improve agriculture by bringing in a wealth of perspectives - not just women but also people of color or even people from urban backgrounds - anyone who might not have been heavily represented in the industry will have fresh ideas that will lead to better decisions and drive everyone forward.
We asked a few of the women at Truterra about their experience in the ag industry to celebrate Women’s History Month.
JILL WHEELER Senior Manager, Public Affairs
What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? Women have made strides in agriculture, certainly, yet there remains significant bias – much of it unconscious -- that the next generation will need to address. I think a big challenge will be members of society who look at what has been accomplished and say “Oh good we’re finished” rather than seeing all the work that remains.
How do you see women changing the face of agriculture? Today, I see women in agriculture as one of the bigger forces currently adding much-needed diversity and new voices to agriculture. Of course, women have always been a part of agriculture, however increasingly they are taking on roles with more responsibility and higher profiles, and they are being recognized and valued for such. All of this adds momentum and makes the field that more appealing for more women and, I hope, for other groups who historically have been marginalized or denied a similar voice.
AMANDA NEELY Senior Manager, Technology and Innovation
Why is agriculture a growth opportunity for women? This space has traditionally been dominated by men so there are great opportunities for women to come in with new perspectives, new mindsets and experiences and new opportunities for men and women to collaborate with one another and reshape the way we look at the Ag industry both on farm and within industry roles. Not only do we have the opportunity to diversify the classic view of a farmer, but we also have the opportunity to build for more women in leadership and that diversity will serve the industry in new ways.
What advice do you have for young professionals who are just starting their careers? Network, network, network and learn to believe in yourself and the unique skills and spirit you have to offer. Embrace who you are and when you find your skills, lean into them and leverage them. Challenge yourself to say yes when you are most uncomfortable – those are the moments when you will grow the most.
MARIAH MURPHY Senior Manager, Member Owner Engagement
Why is agriculture a growth opportunity for women? Agriculture is a booming business; it is an industry that will never fade. We will always need to eat and create a world to better feed humankind. I don’t see this as just a growth area for women but all people in general. We have exciting things coming forward as it relates to agriculture -- it’s going to take all of humanity to get there. What women, in particular, can do is educate, be the voice, take the time to learn and advocate for what you believe in as it relates to your food production.
What advice do you have for young professionals who are just starting their careers? Find a mentor that will help you be successful and push you out of your comfort zone. Do not be afraid to speak up, you belong just like everyone else. Be your own voice and take calculated risks.
ELENA LINDEMANN Director, Stewardship Impact
What led you to work in the sustainable agriculture space? In my 26+ years at Land O’Lakes, I have been fortunate to contribute in a variety of marketing and management roles at Purina Animal Nutrition, Dairy Foods and Venture37. Truterra meaningfully connects different Land O’Lakes businesses through the common thread of sustainability. I love this opportunity to strengthen the overall Land O’Lakes business, the industry we represent, and help our cooperative and independent retailers and our farmer owners become more sustainable and profitable.
How do you see women changing the face of agriculture? More women rise to management roles traditionally held by men, bringing the diversity of management approach and business perspective.
Women’s History Month and beyond, we are proud of the people that make up our team. Thank you to these women for sharing their perspectives on the ag industry. At Truterra, we hope to further this discussion by including people from all backgrounds working to drive sustainable agriculture.
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