Women Changing the Face of Agriculture and Penny Lauritzen

Penny LauritzenExcerpt from Illinoisan receives top American Agri-Women honor by Martha Blum, Field Editor, March 05, 2014 6:00 AM

The first WCFA event was in 2010. This year, high school and college students will gather for the day on March 7 at the John Wood Community College in Quincy.

When the idea formed five years ago to start the WCFA event, Yeagle said, within a few months the idea developed into a program.

“Then it snowballed, and we’re hoping other states will do programs like this,” she added. “We were at a women’s summit this past fall in Michigan, and Minnesota, Kentucky and Tennessee are looking to do something similar.”

The original idea for the program was sparked when the Illinois members met with a company involved in the financial community.

“They advised us to work with young women to make sure they were aware that they might have to make some difficult choices in their career paths,” Lauritzen said. “We need to be networking to make sure the environment in the industry remains welcoming to women regardless of their age.”

The first year, about 125 students attended and 125 professional women provided information to the young ladies about their careers.

“The commitment from the professional women has been strong from the start,” said Lauritzen of Lanark, Ill.

This year, from 125 to 150 professional women and volunteers will present to more than 500 students, four times the number of young ladies who attended the inaugural year.

“Some of the professional women have been the same for five years, and some are new,” Lauritzen said. “It’s an evolving network and training event for professional women to mentor and be involved in it.”

The event has evolved as members have recognized the changing needs of the students and the professional women.

“We’re doing it a little different this year. The career fair is in the morning, and there are breakout sessions in the afternoon,” Lauritzen explained. “We work to make it better every year, and we went to the breakout sessions so students are moving around in small groups.”

About half of the breakout sessions are focused on life skills such as resume writing, interviewing or effective networking.

“The remaining sessions are about specific ag industries,” Lauritzen said… read the full article.

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