It was a pretty neat day when I attended the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture event that brought about 600 high school and college young ladies together to learn more about possible choices for careers in agriculture.

This was the 10th annual event organized by the Illinois Agri-Women group, and this year, it was at Richland Community College. During the past 10 years, the career exploration event has been held at several universities and junior colleges throughout the state, including the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University and John Wood Community College.

The unique event features ladies involved with all types of careers in the agricultural industry who set up a display about their company and then share their story with the young ladies who visit their booths.

Students have the opportunity to ask a wide variety of questions about the different career opportunities, as well as gather tips from the presenters about their career paths.

IAW started a new Full Circle initiative that is highlighting ladies who have attended WCFA in the past and now are on their career path. Each lady’s picture is featured on a banner along with some information about their career and a highlight from WCFA.

The first five banners highlighting ladies for the Full Circle Initiative are:

  • Ellen Reeder, crawler instructor, John Deere.
  • Caseelynn Johnston, agricultural teacher and FFA adviser, Bureau Valley High School.
  • Taylor Edge, field staff, Illinois FBFM.
  • Kelsey Litchfield, marketing and member engagement manager, Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Emily Bloemer, accountant, John Deere.

Seven additional ladies have been selected for the Full Circle program, and several of them attended the 2019 event, including Josey Fruhling. Now a crop insurance adjuster for Diversified Crop Insurance Services, Josey attended WCFA for the first time as a high school junior in 2011.

“I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you don’t know what you want to go into because there are so many different paths,” Josey told me.

Josey actually learned about an internship at Diversified Crop Insurance Services through the WCFA program during her junior year at ISU, which led to her current job.

“There was a networking opportunity the night before WCFA with professionals and I met a woman who worked for Diversified and she said they were looking for an intern,” Josey said. “I went and interviewed and got the internship and by the end of the summer I was hired for my full-time job, so my whole senior year, I already had a job when I graduated.”

WCFA has grown over the past 10 years and members of the Agri-Women group have continued to add new aspects to the program. I look forward to the 2020 event, which will be held again at Richland Community College.

Martha Blum can be reached at 815-223-2558, ext. 117, or marthablum@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Blum.

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