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“Women in Agriculture” a Huge Success

The "Women in Agriculture" seminar connected Agribusiness Academy
students with female agribusiness professionals

KENANSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA- November 19, 2018- The Duplin Agribusiness Academy hosted a “Women in Agriculture” seminar at James Sprunt Community College (JSCC) last week highlighting females from Duplin County high schools, colleges and local businesses. Attendees spent the day learning from guest speakers, networking with professionals and participating in round table discussions hosted by local agribusinesses.

Duplin Agribusiness Academy Coordinator, Tiffany Cassell, welcomed everyone and explained the inspiration for the day. “Today is meant to show women of various backgrounds the importance of making connections, learning life lessons, developing leadership and finding their passion in agriculture and beyond.”

Cassell introduced the emcee for the day’s event, Mrs. JoAnn Stroud. As a long-time supporter of Duplin County Schools and agricultural education, as well as the secretary of the Duplin Agribusiness Council, Mrs. Stroud made connections between the need for strong females in today’s industry and the history of agriculture in Duplin County.

Guest speakers included Jona Smith from Smithfield Hog Production, Nicole Reynolds from House of Raeford, Deborah Johnson with Prestage Farms, and Dr. Heather Glennon of the University of Mount Olive. Each of these guest speakers referenced their personal experiences as a female in the agriculture industry and then elaborated on the opportunities provided based on choices they made. Comments from our speakers throughout the day included “make things happen, don’t let them happen to you,” “life is like shoe shopping, you have options on where to go and what you get,” and “be grateful and have fun.”

Connecting with peers and professionals was a primary goal for the day. Students were able to learn alongside their peers from other schools as well as professionals from various agribusinesses.

The networking lunch sponsored by Smithfield Hog Production provided a time for over twenty-five agriculture industry professionals to speak freely with forty-two students about their life and career goals. A round table session was held following lunch in which thirteen professionals shared details about the organization they represented as well as their path and role in agriculture. Students were able to select round table discussions of interest to them, choosing from professionals representing Cape Fear Farm Credit, Chestnutt Farms, Smithfield Hog Production, House of Raeford, Johnson Breeders, JSCC, Duplin County Cooperative Extension, North Carolina FFA Association, Duplin Winery, Axis Seed, Murphy Family Ventures, and North Carolina State University Agriculture Institute.

At the conclusion of the seminar, students were asked to identify three things: how to be a leader, how to be an advocate for agriculture, and their passion. Various responses were offered and several revolved around the theme of agricultural education, making others aware of the impact that agriculture has on our daily lives. The day would not have been possible without the support of Duplin County Schools, JSCC, professionals and agricultural industries that sponsored break, lunch and attendee gift bags.

The theme for the day of learning life lessons, developing leadership and finding passion was surely ignited in all of those in attendance.