INDIANAPOLIS — March is National Women’s History Month, and Indiana Farm Bureau recognized women who have contributed to Indiana’s ag industry.
Four Hoosier women were highlighted for their work in advancing agriculture.
“It’s always my goal to empower women to never be afraid of investing in themselves and support them in roles both on and off the farm,” said Isabella Chism, 2nd vice president of INFB.
“There is no doubt that women make a difference in Indiana agriculture — whether they are driving the combine, running their own business, educating their community or advocating for agriculture on the local, state and even national level.”
Meet four INFB members who are making a difference:
• Jessica Baggerman, assistant professor of agriculture at Huntington University: Baggerman grew up on a cotton, grain, beef, cow-calf operation in Texas where her love of farming was engrained in her from an early age.
She joined the Huntington University faculty in 2017 as an assistant professor of agriculture where she teaches animal and food science, advises undergrads, coordinates judging/competitive teams and oversees livestock care.
“The majority of the animal science students are female,” Baggerman said. “And now we are starting to see the professor profile be more reflective of the students. We always want a diverse population across the board, but it’s good to know there are more females coming up in this area.”
When it comes to women who are interested in ag and want to break into the industry, Baggerman’s recommendation is to ask questions.
“Use your resources, be curious and find other female ag professionals who you can network with and get their advice,” Baggerman said. “There are no stupid questions, sometimes you just have to dig for the answers.”
• Sarah Jordan, broker and founder of LUXE Real Estate: Jordan started her own company, LUXE Real Estate, three years ago. The firm specializes in farm and rural estates, in addition to residential and commercial properties in southeastern Indiana.
“For me to be successful, I needed to create my own brand and set myself apart,” Jordan explained. “I have done a lot of digital marketing to reach a broader geographic area in order to get the word out on properties, which isn’t as traditional in the rural and farm space.”
She also started her own farm, “Red Barn Ranch,” which is home to hens, two horses, two goats and three dogs.
Her goal is to buy more land and build up the farm to incorporate an agritourism component.
“It’s my mission to save this place and protect it,” she said. “I would love a small pumpkin patch, community garden plot, petting zoo or pony rides in the future. Right now, I’m putting in a pasture and fencing, and looking into women-owned business grants to help with financing.”
• Denise Jamerson, owner and farmer of Legacy Taste of the Garden: Denise Jamerson is a fifth-generation farmer. Her family has been a part of the African-American farming community of Lyles Station since before the Civil War.
Fast forward to today, and her father is still farming row crops at 85 years old. Jamerson helps her dad on the farm in addition to running Legacy Taste of the Garden, an agricultural business her son established in 2017.
The farm aims to bring healthy food to food deserts. The company also shares basic agricultural knowledge with young people.
“Some of these kids have never touched dirt,” Jamerson said. “We work with community organizations in food deserts to teach kids about farming from seed to market and how the food we grow ties into their health. We are opening a lot of young eyes to agriculture.”
• Rachel Hyde, farmer and field sales marketing coordinator at Beck’s Hybrids: Rachel Hyde works at Beck’s Hybrids as a field sales marketing coordinator where she serves as a liaison between the field sales team and the marketing department.
She is also a seventh-generation farmer on her family’s corn, soybean and sheep operation in Noblesville, Indiana, where she grew up working the farm with her older brother.
“My dad made sure that my brother and I had the same opportunities on the farm,” Hyde said. “It was important that his son and daughter were able to both have the skills to operate the farm. I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty and do the work.”
Hyde’s advice to young women entering the ag industry is to be fearless.
“Ag is not a man’s world anymore, so be bold and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. We all have unique skill sets to make our own impact in ag and leave a lasting legacy in the industry.”