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FarmHer: Women in agriculture speak at film screening

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FarmHer: Women in agriculture speak at film screening

Photographer: Hanna Vos

Photographer: Hanna Vos

Photographer: Hanna Vos

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In honor of Women’s History Month, the SMSU Women’s Studies Committee and SMSU Feminist Club hosted a film screening of the documentary FarmHer. The film follows Marji Guyler-Alaniz as she photographs female farmers as they go about their daily lives. Following the film screening, a panel of diverse women involved in Minnesota agriculture spoke on their thoughts and experiences as females in the agriculture industry. The panel was made up of Dr. Kristin Kovar, Ruth Lanoue, Carolyn Olson, and Olga Reuvekamp.

Guyler-Alaniz left her job in corporate agriculture in 2013. Deciding to leave her job was not an easy choice for Guyler-Alaniz.

“I worked in the agriculture industry and to tell you the very honest truth, it wasn’t an easy path. I was definitely the youngest person at that level in my organization. I was definitely the only woman there, and it felt like I was hitting my head against the wall most of the time… I was just done with that.” She said that it took her about 18 months of weighing the pros and cons before she decided that she needed to find a job that allowed her to be more creative.

Shortly after leaving her job, Guyler-Alaniz saw an advertisement during the Super Bowl XLVII . The advertisement, produced by Ram Trucks, intended to show what it is like to be a farmer. However, the majority of farmers portrayed were male. Seeing that advertisement made Guyler-Alaniz realize how overlooked the female farmer is.

“I have never felt so compelled to do something more than when I woke up that night and it just kind of hit me out of nowhere: don’t get frustrated about this, go do something about it. You have a camera, you can go take pictures. You can try to change this,” said GuylerAlaniz. She was driven to shine a light upon the women working in the agriculture industry and began working on FarmHer soon after.

The panel of women involved with Minnesota agriculture offered their opinions on FarmHer and insight as to what it is like for a female to be involved in agriculture. Reuvekamp, the executive director of Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership, said that she feels like women bring creativity and the ability to think outside of the box. She advised any young women interested in having a career in agriculture to build their confident and take every opportunity to learn and grow.

Lanoue, a farm wife and mother of six, said that women are multitaskers who can bring a softer side to agriculture. She also noted that, as an RN, she monitors and treats sick calves on her farm.

Minnesota Farm Bureau District III Director and farmer Olson said that she feels that passion is regarded as more acceptable when it comes from a female as compared to when it comes from a male.

“Men are taught [that] you don’t show a lot of emotion,” she said. “I show a lot of emotion, but I think that’s a gift that I can do that.”

Addressing women seeking to enter the agriculture industry, Olson said, “Get involved! There’s a lot of networking opportunities where you can meet people in your same shoes… Get involved and don’t take no for an answer.”

Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education Kovar said that women bring the “kind, nurturing, caring aspect. But at the same time, immediately I think of strength.”

Kovar also had advice to offer women interested in having a career in agriculture. She said, “Take care of yourself. As women in agriculture, we like to overdo things sometimes.”

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FarmHer: Women in agriculture speak at film screening