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2016 Southern Region Women’s Agricultural Leadership Summit – Session 3

>>Dr. Laura Perry Johnson: Welcome
back to the closing session of the Southern Region Women’s
Agricultural Leadership Summit. We are so glad to have
you and we are so glad to welcome our virtual
audience as well. We’re streaming this
session live and if you are in our gallery ,please be
sure that you have registered with the desk outside because
we will be sharing the same information that we report back
to delegates, we’ll be sharing that with our gallery
audience as well. So, please be sure that you
have registered and you’re in our database so you can
stay in the conversation and receive the information. So, for those of just returning
or maybe just joining us out there in the live streaming
land to recap briefly I’m going to tell you a bit about
what went on today. We started out this morning
with a fabulous panel discussion that represented all segments
of our industry, production ag, agribusiness, academia,
government and industry. Following that, we had a luncheon where Deputy Secretary Krysta
Harden was the keynote speaker and she gave us wonderful words
of information and shared some of her personal experiences
with us. We then came back into the
auditorium and we had a session that was led by the J.W.
Fanning Institute for Leadership that collected thoughts
and ideas and data that we will be using later in
research articles and reports and to generate the conversation
for where we go from here. So, our Fanning Institute is
part of our public service and outreach here at the
University of Georgia and we’re very proud of
what we do in outreach. At this time I’d like to
introduce Matt Bishop, he’s the Director of the Fanning
Institute and he is going to summarize some
of the information that was gathered earlier
today from the delegates, Matt.>>Matthew L. Bishop:
Thank you Laura. So, for those that were
in the room you know that we focused our
facilitated discussion around three primary
questions and those were about what do we continue to do to support increased
opportunities for women in agricultural leadership? Number two, what do we
need to stop doing? What are the things that are
limiting us and causing barriers for women in agricultural
leadership? And then thirdly, what
do we need to start doing to support increased
opportunities for women in agricultural leadership? So because we did this
30 minutes ago right, it’s fairly difficult to
provide a comprehensive report on the session but note
that’s absolutely what we will be doing. Every single word that was typed into the laptops earlier
will be reported back to you. We’re going to theme all of
that and summarize all of that but in the appendix
you’ll actually see the typed responses. So you’ll get all of that as
a result of the conference. But what I’d like to do now is,
Laurie has developed a new term for me, a Wordle for
each of the responses that we did this afternoon. This one is the Continue
Wordle, the results of that so I’m not sure how it works
but I do know that the frequency of words used in the responses
is what drives the size of the words that you
see in this graphic. So and what we, walking around and hearing the responses
what we’re going to hone in on this afternoon
is the word “mentor”. One of the themes that came out
of the continued discussion was that at multiple
levels there needs to be continued mentoring
opportunities to create opportunities
for women in agricultural leadership. So at one level down, all the
way down into the K5 level of school systems, alright
continuing what we’re doing with FFA and 4-H and other
mechanisms such as that but in addition to
those, to go younger, try to create mentoring
opportunities for females down into the K5 level, but also
continue peer-to-peer mentoring so farmer to farmer, board
chair to board member. The types of activities
that happen in agriculture, there has to be some
mentoring opportunities and it, frankly what was written down and said throughout
the responses, it’s okay to have a male mentor, get mentored is the
overall theme there. One other, or actually two
other Continues that we gleaned from the responses was
continue statewide partnerships and platforms that
cut across states and the example used throughout
the continue discussion was Annie’s Project, so continue
opportunities such as that to promote women in
agricultural leadership roles. And then finally continue
this type of conversation. Continue to provide venues
and platforms for individuals from a variety of
organizations and interests to share best practices
and to think about the ways that opportunities can
be created for women in agricultural leadership
positions. So that was the Continue. Remember the second
question that we posed was about barriers and limitations. What do we need to stop doing
that might cause barriers for women in agricultural
leadership? And here’s the Wordle and you
can see a lot of intensity around tradition and roles
and men and position, ourselves was interesting. So, again I wanted to just
talk through a couple of things that we gleaned from the data in
the short time that we’ve had. Stop generalizing, right,
stop the generalizations about what women can and cannot
do as leaders in agriculture. Stop the notion of, what does
a farmer look like right? We’ve got to break the
mold of tradition in terms of what a traditional
farmer is all about. Stop not speaking up and
offering our opinions. That was themed in many,
many of the responses. Also, in terms of communication
and not, stop not communicating but also the non-verbalize
barriers. And some of the, one
example that was used there, stop the meeting
before the meeting. Y’all remember talking
about that? Stop positional authority right? Just because you’re, you know
your granddaddy’s daddy’s granddaddy was in that position
200 years ago doesn’t mean you’re entitled to that position
so that was another theme. Stop using access to
capital and finances as a barrier to progress. I know one table in particular
talked about that a lot. Start being educated about
those kinds of things but don’t let the idea that you
don’t understand how the capital gain works or the financial gain
works be a barrier to progress in women in agricultural
leadership. Stop tearing each other down Stop the degrading
comments about one another. I can’t read my own handwriting. And stop the perception
of being a super mom. That was one that we also
gleaned from some of the data. So those are some of the stops. And then finally we honed in on
the question about what should, what do we need to start doing to support increased
opportunities for women in agriculture? And thank you Laurie,
so these are. This is the intensity
of some of those words as you can see in this graphic. And again, I’m just going to
read through some of the things that you talked about. Start more leadership
development opportunities for women. There frankly is a gap there. There’s a void in
opportunities available to women in agricultural leadership
and we have to be intentional and purposeful about
creating those opportunities. Start educating not only
ourselves but others on the real issues that
women face in agriculture. Start doing more
research of this issue. It was noted to me during this
discussion that there’s a gap in what we, what’s in the
literature and what we know about the issues and
challenges facing women in agricultural leadership. Start programs that
will retain more women. Y’all remember talking
about that, retension was
the big issue there. Sometimes the female is put
into the leadership position but for some reason or another
they don’t last so this was about creating opportunities
for women to retain their positions
of leadership. Start leading by example. Start looking at
other industries that have potentially
cracked this nut, right. What are best practices
out there in other types of industries in business
where the gap in women in leadership positions has
been closed or been addressed in more effective ways? Start being authentic,
it’s okay to say that we’re having a
bad day today, alright. Start stronger male/female
sponsorship opportunities. If the reality is that males, men are in leadership positions
then the logic is that males, men are going to have to be
sponsors and mentors of females. So let’s figure,
let’s figure that out. If that’s the only
way to get mentored in agricultural leadership
then let’s figure out to make those stronger. The bottom line is start
getting mentored in some aspect of agricultural leadership. Recognize or start recognizing that women have unique
challenges in the workplace. So the specific example
is this conference, where was childcare
being offered, so, a very specific example there. Start building each other
up, across all organizations, and not just those that
are women-specific. Start more concerted efforts to
get to our youth and we talked about that earlier
with the Continue so that’s a nice
value added there. Start dispelling myths about
women and their ability to be leaders in this field. And then finally,
keep this thing going. So, that’s my report in the
30 minutes since we talked so thank you all very much
for the opportunity to visit with you this afternoon. [ Applause ]>>Dr. Laura Perry Johnson:
Thank you Matt and thank you Fanning Institute, that was some great
turnaround fast and we really appreciate that. Today we had a wonderful day. We had a great conversation. We started the conversation,
we made many new friends and I guarantee you, each
of you were just like me, you wrote down a lot of notes. You wrote down a lot of
things to think about, things that maybe
you want to do, actions that you want to take. And I want to let you know some
of the specifics that will come out of this conference
and then talk a bit about where we go from here. Specifically out of this
conference, we will generate a comprehensive report from
the summit that will break down the group findings. You will get some of
this information back. We’ll send that out to the
delegates and to the gallery so that everyone will
have this information. One of the things we’ve
been asked quite a bit and I definitely think it’s
a piece that we need to do, I hope my awesome
committee is listening. I see them smiling at me
because they say Laura, when you say “we need to do”. We need to have a template for
the logistics of how we put on this event so that
you can replicate it and I don’t necessarily mean
replicate it in other states but I could go home to Colquitt
County and replicate this in Colquitt County
and make a difference. There are plenty of
people in my hometown to have this conversation
with so think about how you on a large scale or a small
scale can replicate what we did here today. We will definitely collaborate
and write some academic articles that we’ll submit
to key journals and business publications. One of the things
you’ve heard today is that there is not enough
out in the literature about women’s role in leadership
positions in agriculture in particular and I am really
glad that we have bright, young academicians that are
willing and wanting to do this and so I think down the
road you will see more of this in the literature. We will create a set
of recommendations for key stakeholders and
policymakers on specific things that they can do
to further women in agricultural leadership
positions. Just like at the University
of Georgia that the president and the provost are being very
intentional about how they go about searching for
new positions so that they are looking
for bringing female talent into the administrative roles,
we will come up with a list of things, best practices
that we can share with other organizations
that can be utilized. We’ll create a set
of recommendations for women serving in
agricultural leadership roles on how to move forward and
advance their leadership and the leadership of
women in similar roles. So those are concrete things
that we know we are going to do. There are probably a lot of
things that we’re going to do that we don’t even know what
they are yet as we brainstorm and we recap and we talk
about how we move forward. When you move forward from here
you will receive an evaluation survey from us. I know how irritating those
things can be sometimes. I have three in my inbox right
now for Hilton Garden Inn. I am not going to tell them
about another one of my stays but very faithfully they send me
a note every time I stay there. But please, when you see
this evaluation survey in your inbox take
the time to sit down, think about what
you want to tell us and give us a meaningful
feedback. We’ll ask you about some of the
specifics of the conferences because obviously we want to get better every single
time we put something on. We’ll ask you about things we
did well, things we forgot, but also we want to ask
you about your ideas of how we can keep
this conversation going and how we can strengthen
this effort. So please don’t delete that
directly to the trashcan. So what can you do
back in your state? Take your directory; I just
want to compliment our Office of Communications and
Creative Services, some of the materials I
never saw except in the black and white typed form so when I
actually saw it printed I was blown away. They do a fabulous job and
they have made us a wonderful directory of all
of the participants that we can take home so you
can stay in touch with some of the people that
you met today. We will also furnish our
gallery participants’ contact information. We will have a website where
these things are available and if you’re looking
for someone that participated today, you can
go to one of these directories but if you don’t find them
call one of us or contact one of us we will be
glad to help you. Also I want to challenge you
to make it a personal effort on your part, take personal
responsibility to think of what can I personally do? What can I do moving forward? I’m not going to wait for my
university or my organization or my Farm Bureau
chapter but what can I do to help keep this
movement going forward? I just want to end
by recapping some of the things we heard today. A lot of people that work
with me know my mother. Many of the great lessons
that I know today I learned from my mother and they
were ingrained in me from the time I could listen. You know, she’s big on the
Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have
people do unto you. Treat people like you
want to be treated. Every single day I walked
out the door she said “Well give a good day’s
work for a good day’s pay.” And she had so many
great words of wisdom, some of those are really, they’re things you probably
already think about a lot but I think some
things were lifted up today that bear repeating. First of all, you’ve
got to know yourself. You’ve got to know
your strengths and more importantly
you’ve got to know where you’re not so strong. You’ve got to know those
weaknesses and you’ve got to be not afraid to
figure out what those are and get stronger in those areas. Anytime I’ve ever applied for
a job or ever did anything, the very first thing I
did was think about okay, you know where am I defunct and you know what questions
are going to come at me from that side of things? I think it’s important not
only to know our strengths but also know our weaknesses
and get better in those areas. Something that came
across loud and clear, don’t wait for somebody to ask
you, step up and volunteer. You know you can, you can
make that move yourself. Be an expert, maybe my
favorite quote out of today is “Smack them with
your knowledge”. So, go Caroline, that
was awesome. So, you know what,
you’re not always going to be the strongest
person there. You’re not going to be
the loudest person there but you know what, when you
go to the table you need to be the most knowledgeable
person there. That is one of the most harmful
things for women in agriculture and any industry honestly
is when we have people that don’t represent us well. So when we go out we need to
make it personal and we need to be sure that we
represent ourselves well. I loved the conversation today
that, you can have it all, maybe not all of the time
but you can have it all, and we talked a lot about that. I’m happy that it’s okay to
pay someone to clean your house because I have broken
down and that’s one of the ways I was going to save
my marriage is to quit fussing about the house all the time. So think about those things that
you can give yourself a break on and ways you can make
it easier on you. One of things that I
am passionate about is that if you don’t
love what you do, you need to find
something else to do. I tell people all the time
when I hire them in Extension, this is the closest
thing to mission work that you’re ever going to find without selling everything
you own and going to the mission field. So if you don’t wake
up every day excited to do the job, you should find
an easier way to make money. So find your passion
and follow that passion. That is really important. Build each other up. We are so much stronger
collectively than any one of us is individually so
always, you know it goes back to what my mom said “If you
can’t say something nice, just keep your mouth shut.” You know, if you’re not building
someone up, just be quiet. You know, that is very important
and it really is up to us to give that compliment, to
give that boost and to give that mentoring and that
support that someone needs. The conversation today
has really focused a lot of it has talked about
mentoring but definitely be that person that
shares the love. Be that person that
lifts somebody else up, that sees where the need
is and addresses that need. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of the younger people
that I work with. Lauren Ledbetter-Griffeth is one
of the smartest girls I know. She calls me her mentor
but I say all the time, she schools me constantly. But she did research on the area
of mentoring versus sponsoring. Women tend to mentor
other women. They tend to make
sure they’re okay, make sure they’re comfortable, you know give them
some mentoring but what men do is
they sponsor other men. They pick them out. They lift them up and
they push them forward. I want us to be both
mentors and sponsors. We need to look at both
sides of that equation. Another thing that we need to
do, and we are pitiful at this in agriculture, is we have
got to tell our story, and who better to tell
our story than us? We have got to be at the table
and you know what we’ve got to quit telling our
story to each other. I mean doesn’t it get boring
just to talk to each other? We have got to get out there
and be bold like Krysta said. We’ve got to go into those
places that are scary where we know they’re
going to heckle us. We know they’re going
to challenge us and they’re very
well-informed and they’re going to throw facts back at us
but we’ve got to be fearless and we’ve got to go out
there and we’ve got to help that 98-99% of the population
know what we do in agriculture or we’re not going to be
allowed to keep doing that, so it is really important
that we tell our own story. I want to thank you today for
being part of this conversation, collectively and individually
you have added so much to today and you have made this as they
say, a much richer discussion. I want to give a final
thank you to our committee. Please before you leave
if you see someone with a red ribbon thank them because there are a
lot of unsung heroes. I was the one up here
in front of you today but this did not
happen because of me. This happened because we had a
fabulous group working very well together and I really
appreciate everything they did. I also want to thank
our sponsors once again, the President’s Venture
Fund, the University of Georgia Women’s Leadership
Initiative and the College of Ag and Environmental Sciences. You know I said we’ve got to
put this together, I don’t need to be worrying about
raising money on top of the short timeframe we have and they graciously gave us the
resources to make this happen so I really, really
appreciate that. And finally, I just want to
leave you with a thought. This summit is not about
comparing men and women. I love the part that
Krysta talked about, we welcome all enlightened
men to the conversation, but it is about furthering
the conversation of how we can be supportive
of each other and supportive of this total industry so I
challenge you today to go away from here thinking about how
you can add to this conversation and how you can be a better
cheerleader for agriculture. Thank you for being here and
have a very safe trip home. [ Applause ] I also want to thank
our virtual audience. We are so glad you tuned in. Don’t forget to share
your information at #womeninag, good evening.

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