Agriculture should be an option for everyone, regardless of their background.
Farm Credit strives to make agriculture inclusive for all.
Increasing awareness of agriculture-related careers
Fewer young people are aware of the multitude of careers and opportunities within the agricultural sector, especially with fewer people growing up on farms. Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) helps students discover how agriculture, engineering and technology relate to the world around them. MANRRS participants practice academic excellence, leadership, technical development and teamwork, all while learning about the agriculture industry.
Celize Christy grew up in Dallas, Texas, far from the world of combines and crop rotation, poultry barns and manure spreaders. But that didn’t stop her from developing a deep interest in agriculture.
When Celize first arrived on campus as a graduate student at Penn State University, she longed for the community she had experienced during her undergraduate degree at Iowa State University. She set out to find opportunities to get involved and remembered MANRRS, a group she had been involved with tangentially at Iowa State.
Upon joining the Penn State MANRRS chapter, Celize met new friends, established a network and developed a sense of community. She found her place. “As an individual who doesn’t come with an ag or rural background, MANRRS has made me feel confident with the career I’m pursuing and has helped me grow a passion for agriculture,” she said. In fact, her passion persuaded her peers to elect her chapter president.
While at Penn State, Celize often found herself as one of the few women of color in her agriculture courses. MANRRS was a welcoming space filled with other ag people with whom she could identify. “MANRRS is a community where I see myself being represented, where I am surrounded by people who support me, people who expose me to a multitude of opportunities. At the end of the day, that has enabled me to be confident in pursuing a career in agriculture,” she said.
Farm Credit is proud to sponsor the Farm Credit/MANRRS VIP Scholarship. The scholarship provides MANRRS students with an academic scholarship, as well as the opportunity to attend the MANRRS conference, all expenses paid. At the conference, they participate in special professional development programming with a focus on Farm Credit. Celize is a 2018 Farm Credit/MANRRS Scholar. She feels that the experience helped her to develop important skills that would prove helpful in the workplace.
Supporting women in agriculture
Women also face challenges entering agriculture. Often, they face unique educational and leadership barriers that inhibit their ability to fully participate in their farm business. While women have always been a vital part of the farm family – historically, often serving as the primary homemaker, caretaker and bookkeeper, women’s roles have evolved as agriculture has evolved.
Annie’s Project, an educational program for women in agriculture, has been there to support women as they assume leadership roles on the farm.
Annie’s Project participants learn about human resource issues, business planning, financial documentation, property titles, cash and crop share leases, marketing plans, retirement and estate planning and insurance. Farm Credit has long been a proud sponsor of this educational program that empowers farm and ranch women by strengthening their professional skills and exposing them to a network of local agricultural experts.
During a typical class, local professionals address the women in their area of expertise. This structure both exposes students to knowledge from a variety of teachers and provides them with a network of experts to whom they can reach out for more information in the following years.
Annie’s Project fills an important business education gap for farm and ranch women, and its unintended consequences are even more remarkable. Many of the women who complete Annie’s Project courses gain the skills needed to help their farm business succeed. They also have the knowledge and confidence to become leaders in their community or in their state, local or national agriculture organization.
Read the blog posts below to learn more about how Farm Credit supports opportunity in agriculture for underserved populations.