My first time attending the Advancing Women Conference

The 2017 Advancing Women Conference was held in Calgary last week, and featured a line up of passionate and inspiring speakers from all across North America, as well as over 400 participants in attendance. 

Each speaker brought their own experiences, challenges, and success stories to the podium. However, one message was repeated throughout the conference; “Support and empower your fellow females.” This is also a core value of the Women in Ag group, and is a great reason we have such a close relationship with the Advancing Women Conference.

Women have been involved in agriculture since the beginning, however the value of our role is changing. This is why it is so integral for women’s voices to be heard, because we are also decision makers on the farm and in agribusinesses. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because you want a seat at the table, does not mean you need to push others out. Krysta Harden, the keynote speaker at the Monday evening banquet, spoke from the heart, and shared her experiences of agriculture around the globe. Her story gave attendees perspective on similarities women in agriculture are facing worldwide and her passion for the industry was clearly evident.

Krysta’s key points tied well into the conversation started earlier that day by Trish Jordan and Jolene Brown, who both spoke about the importance of sharing your story. Jolene said, it is important to make a connection with consumers about what you do, why you do it, and also take into consideration why consumers have the views that they do and what they are really buying. She also noted that "If you aren't going to speak up for agriculture, you'd better support the people who do."

Trish encouraged us to connect with others and have those difficult conversations and highlighted the importance of being an advocate and telling our story as a woman in ag. She reminded us that engaging in these conversations involves a lot more listening than talking.

It was exciting to see Saskatchewan’s own, Cherilyn Nagel, on stage, sharing her story about starting out with the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, and how she continues to grow her career in agriculture.

To close off the conference, David Chilton gave us a reminder to “cheer up.” His presentation was entertaining, and reminded us of the power of positivity. He pointed out that Canadians are chronic complainers, and waiting an extra few minutes in line at Tim Horton's should not be something to complain about. He focused on being positive and how fortunate we truly as Canadians. He also reminded us that it is important to always keep fighting for what you believe it.

Overall, the conference was full passion for agriculture, humbling humor, and inspiration that left everyone with an action list to apply to their lives.

Autumn Lawson


As a first time attendee, this is what Jen had to say about her AWC experience:

Being an AWC newbie, I was extremely excited to network and learn. A few presentations really stood out for me because of the lessons and I look forward to taking them home, and applying them to my everyday life.

I attended the workshop with Jolene Brown on Monday morning. And have many great take always that can be applied to our family farm as well as our extended family's situations and even looking toward the future as our children grow.

Cherilyn Nagel had positive energy and her story really got me thinking that there is no such thing as “just a farm wife,” and I should be proud of the role I play on our farm, even though it changes over the years as our farm and family grows and changes as well.

Cheryl Fullerton spoke about the overused term "work/life" balance. It's not necessarily about balance but about making the choice to focus on certain things at certain times and know that it's okay to prioritize what's truly important to me now as well as down the road.

All the speakers were very passionate about their careers and their roles in agriculture. It was very inspiring to hear all of their stories.

Networking and time spent with other women in the Ag industry is so beneficial and it was uplifting to see so many passionate women gathered together. It was great to catch up with familiar faces as well as make new connections. Iris Meck Communications hosted a wonderful conference, and the whole thing was well organized and ran seamlessly. Thank you to SK WIA for the opportunity to attend this year’s AWC.