Becoming a woman in agriculture has been a straightforward thing for some, but a long, rambling road for many. The latter is certainly true in my own case. Yes, I grew up on a beef farm in Canada, but that was just our way of life. To this day, I’m not sure what – if any – kind of an income it brought to our family. When I married into an Irish dairying family, the learning curve was steep. Having had a father who was close to home all day with our beef farm, I couldn’t figure out what my husband and father-in-law were out there doing all day. I often imagined my husband would make up imaginary jobs so he wouldn’t have to help when the kids were babies!

I know better now because I am out and involved in what we do every day – our farm here in Ireland is a different animal altogether compared to the farm I grew up on. As opposed to just being a way of life, our farm is a business and we have many commitments to keep, welfare to maintain and product quality to deliver on. I think about the woman I used to be, sometimes (my BA days – “Before Ag”), and think about how blissfully ignorant I was. I usually think about this when I’m scrubbing feeders or struggling to bottle-feed a new-born.

Katie Gleeson and I laughed together about this as I was writing this week’s cover feature. Like me, Katie had to learn how to become a woman in ag.

We’re delighted to announce that our keynote speaker at Women & Agriculture is broadcaster and author Ryan Tubridy.

For those of us who have married in and weren’t born into it, calling ourselves “farmers” has been a slow process. We are getting there, though, and Katie is now in her first year of studying Agricultural Sustainability (with Green Cert) at TUS. She has come an amazingly long way for someone with no background in agriculture and she is someone who consistently inspires me to take more action on-farm and in my every-day life.

Going back to college as an adult can be daunting, and we see more evidence of this in this week’s careers focus Finding Confidence as a Mature Student. In the case of Donal Sheehan, going back to college led him to develop The BRIDE Project and he caught the bug for education, as it were – one thing kept leading to another. It’s a great read for anyone feeling in a bit of a career slump; taking the risk and going back to college will always pay off in one form or another.

Finally, in big Women & Agriculture news, we have gone live with our full schedule for this year’s conference.

We’re delighted to announce that our keynote speaker at Women & Agriculture is broadcaster and author Ryan Tubridy. In what will be one of his first public appearances since the summer, Ryan’s chat will be focused on our conference theme of ‘Finding the Balance’. Ciara Leahy from Irish Country Living will be on the couch speaking to Ryan about his years hosting an iconic chat show, presenting radio programmes, writing best-selling books and how he has dealt with ups and downs throughout his career. And you never know, he might answer the question that so many of us are asking… what will Ryan do next?

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