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Changing Faces In Agriculture

CHERYL TEVIS 10/14/2010 @ 12:04pm Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

Krista Lottinville and Samantha Werner have their sights set on agri culture. The two University of Illinois seniors were one step ahead of the other 126 participants at the first annual Women Changing The Face Of Agriculture career event sponsored by Illinois AgriWomen in Bloomington, Illinois, earlier this year.

Both already had completed their majors and accepted jobs. Lottinville, an agricul ture business major, is working at Illinois Farm Bureau as a manager trainee. Werner is using her degree in agriculture farm management to train for a position in research, sales, and production at Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

"My dream job is one in sales where I can spend my day outside, talking with farmers," Werner says.

The two were there to show their sup port for career opportunities for women in agriculture. The event, held at the Interstate Center, drew from high school FFA students, postsecondary agriculture students, and other college and university students.

"It was exciting to be there," says Ellen Reeder, state FFA reporter. "In the future, I plan to attend the University of Illinois and major in ag communications with a minor in crop sciences. My dream job would be to work for an ag company in public relations and advertising."

The young women took advantage of the opportunity to meet a group of 95 women already working in an array of agricultural careers. During the breakout sessions, these mentors shared with the students the education requirements for their jobs, pros pects for internship opportunities, and their perspectives about the long-term outlook for agriculture and for women in their field.

Evelyn Brandt Thomas, co-owner and cofounder of Brandt Consolidated, was one of the mentors.

"I feel it's very important for girls to be informed about their choices when deciding on careers," she says. "I was a pioneer in our fertilizer business because I was one of the only women in the company for years."

Penny Lauritzen, an Illinois AgriWomen organizer of the event and a certified finan cial planner for Farm Financial Strategies, Inc., feels mentors like Brandt Thomas are invaluable.

"As we grow up, we tend to seek career tracks we're familiar with," she says.

"Agriculture represents 17% of our na tion's gross national product and provides 1 in every 6 jobs. As future job seekers, it's important for young women to learn more about potential opportunities so they can make accurate decisions about the future," Lauritzen says.

Next year's Women Changing The Face Of Agriculture will be held March 4, 2011, at the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University in Bloomington. For more information, e-mail Lauritzen at lauritzen@farmestate.com or visit www.womenchangingthefaceofagriculture.com.

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