Women in Agronomy: Encouraging Leaders

October 8, 2018

Women in Agronomy is an organization within the Department of Agronomy that focuses on the wonderful women in this major. Women in Agronomy began over 15 years ago, but over the past five or six years, it has become more and more active! Stephanie Zumbach works hard to plan events for young agronomy women so that they know they have a place in agronomy and in agriculture. Connecting these ladies to other women who are also agronomy majors, both professionally and socially, as well as connecting them to other women in agriculture is one of the biggest take away from being involved with Women in Agronomy. 

All women agronomy majors are invited to attend all the events, and there are typically between 30 and 50 women at each event. Stephanie tries to come up with a variety of events for the women to attend, including; speakers that come in and talk about educational topics, alumnus of the department come and talk about their careers and their path in agronomy, group social activities, and tours of local agronomy related locations. Some of those locations included the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, Pioneer Headquarters in Johnston, and the Monsanto Huxley Learning Center.

One of Stephanie’s favorite events has been their field trip to Pioneer headquarters in Johnston because she worked in the seed industry before coming to Iowa State, so it was interesting to her to see their seed science center, their greenhouses, and seed treatment research facilities.

 In order to plan these events, Stephanie tries to get a variety of career paths that different women would be interested in. Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft also helps to plan events; in fact, she’s a great source for suggesting alumni to come back and speak. Before CALS career day, Stephanie also likes to bring in HR professionals to help the women get ready for career day, by offering interviewing tips and other advice they feel would benefit the women.

 Another goal for Women in Agronomy is to have fun together, so there are events set up specifically for that. Some of those are holiday gatherings, crafts/painting, and meals. She gets   input from the group if there is a speaker they would like to hear from or a field trip location they would like to go visit.

The fall 2018 freshman class was over 50% females this year for the first time ever! The percentage of women has increased from 22% in 2006 to 39% in 2018, so it’s really exciting for Women in Agronomy to see that number increasing every year!