The Arka Tech

Women: a growing force in agriculture

Five students pursing a degree in agriculture attended the Arkansas Women in Agriculture (ARWIA) Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas earlier this month. This conference came at the conclusion of International Women’s Week and just before National Ag Day.

As the number one industry in Arkansas in terms of added value to the economy, agriculture is seeing the number of women involved with and employed by the industry grow rapidly. For Arkansas Tech University, the number of women in the Department of Agriculture is close to half, at 44.85 percent.

“One in six jobs in Arkansas are related to agriculture. With a ratio that large, I think it’s important more women see the opportunities there are for them in agriculture. This industry and the degrees we offer at Tech are no longer just for farming,” said Jessica Plumlee, a senior agricultural business public relations major from Royal.

During the conference, women had the opportunity to learn about issues facing agriculture from a variety of speakers and networked with other women in agriculture from across the state.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Lane McConnell, founder of Agri-Comm Services where she works as an agricultural marketing consultant, focusing on sustainable farming and local food products. McConnell talked about the importance of telling others about agriculture during her keynote address.

Kisia Weeks, a junior agricultural education major from Cedarville, said the conference is a valuable annual event.

“The women in ag conference is very important because as women in our industry, we have a tendency to feel like we’re outnumbered and don’t have as much of an influence. It’s so empowering to get together with other women who make a difference and are truly passionate about agriculture,” said Weeks.

During the closing session of the conference, Angela Erb, a junior agricultural business major from Greenbrier was elected to serve on the ARWIA board as the Southwest representative. Her role will include encouraging other women to be involved in agriculture and to serve as an advocate on behalf of the organization and agriculture industry.

For more information on the Arkansas Tech Department of Agriculture, visit www.atu.edu/agriculture.