Advancing Women in Agriculture: Key Takeaways

80% of life is showing up. 

As an introvert I sometimes struggle with this. I’ll admit there are times when I’d rather just stay home. But I force myself to go (show up) and I never regret it.

Last week I had the privilege of attending the first Advancing Women: Life Skills for Leadership – Women in Ag conference, and one of the speakers reminded me of this quote.


I attend a lot of agricultural conferences, tradeshows and meetings. But this one was different. Rather than being one of the only females in the crowd surrounded by males, at this conference I was among approximately 360 other women – all of whom are involved in the agriculture industry in some way.

Not only did the conference provide great networking opportunities with fellow ag women, but I also learned so much. There were so many amazing speakers who had great stories and valuable advice.

I’ve decided to summarize a few of my key takeaways from the conference for my readers. I hope you can also benefit from these insights.

  •  Courtenay Wolfe, former president and CEO, Salida Capital: Courtenay spoke on the power of networking and touched on the quote above. She encouraged us to just show up and to get involved both personally and professionally. Other advice from her: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to say no. This really resonated with me as I struggle with both. I’m very independent and I rarely ask for help when I need it. I also have a hard time saying no and some people know this and take advantage of it. I tend to get over involved (going back to her previous advice) because I can’t say no. Other simple advice she had: carry business cards and hand them out; reach out to people; and follow-up with people (a personal touch such as a hand written note goes a long way).


  • Mary Morrissey, president and owner, Life SOULutions that Work LLC: Mary talked about achieving goals. She compared goals to seeds – something most ag women can really too – and how we need to nourish and protect our goals just as we do our seeds. She encouraged us to set SMART goals. SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time Specific. I’ve always felt that having goals in life is important. We need to have something to strive for whether it be in our careers or relationships. Another thought she shared is that a real goal is something you don’t know all the pieces to achieve. This is something to keep in mind as you’re setting goals.


  • Linda Hohol, corporate director on boards of Export Development Canada, NAV Canada, Ellis Don Construction, Canadian Western Bank: Linda shared lessons she learned during her climb to the top in her career. She encouraged us to be true to who we are. This is something I strive to do. I’m a farm girl from rural Manitoba. That’s who I am – may as well embrace it. I’m sure that every woman out there has doubted themselves many times. Linda feels that having confidence in yourself is just as important as competence. She also talked about risk taking. Don’t be afraid to take risks and don’t be afraid to fail – you learn from failing.

The conference also included a “Women Talk” panel of four ladies. Two of the panelists stood out for me.

  • Senator JoAnne Buth is a Manitoba girl. My key takeaway from her talk was this: you’re always on stage. Therefore you must always act in a professional manner. Don’t act in such a way that you’ll regret it later because people are always watching and remembering.


  • Angela Santiago is the CEO and co-founder of The Little Potato Company in Edmonton. I could relate to Angela because she told us about how she never intended to work in agriculture at the beginning of her career but then she fell in love with the values of agriculture and how it’s in sync with who she is. Ditto.

I’m going to wrap up this post with a powerful quote that Mary Morrissey shared by Eleanor Roosevelt.

All of the water in the world can’t drown you unless it gets inside of you. 

Thanks for reading!


6 thoughts on “Advancing Women in Agriculture: Key Takeaways

Add yours

  1. Thanks so much for the summary and I’m glad you had a good time. The older I get, the more introverted I get too…I always enjoy myself when I’m at events, but it’s definitely out of my comfort zone!

  2. Thank you for sharing these highlights, Teresa! I’m currently looking at attending a conference this summer, and my introverted self prefers to stay home, too – so I’m glad for your encouragement and perspective.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Emily. I encourage you to attend the conference. I’m sure it will be a great learning and networking opportunity.

  3. Great summary Teresa. I was there too and it was a terrific inaugural event for women and Iris Meck and her team have to be very proud of what they were able to do. Lots of inspiration in the room and Jason Dorsey was a hit too- sharing all the quirks of the many generations that we work with in the work force. Being Farmers with three generations working on the same farm some of his points hit home! Makes life interesting that’s for sure!

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