Did you know that [1]half (51%) of all farming operations in the United States have at least one female operator and that women play a significant role in U.S. fisheries? In Alaska, [2]responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s seafood harvest in a typical year, women are engaged directly in fishing and processing and actively involved in fishing families and communities. [3]Women account for around 17% of foresters in the United States and also contribute to the sector as private forest landowners or co-owners involved in the decisions [4]on at least 60% of the forested lands in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes regions.  In honor of Women’s History Month this March and International Women’s Day (8 March), we celebrate some of the women who are making a difference and championing excellence in farming, forestry, and fisheries.

Wendy Yeager, soybean farmer

We first met Wendy in October 2022 at SIAL Paris, a leading international food trade show. She had boarded a flight with just a few hours’ sleep, fitting her French séjour between the peanut and soybean harvests on her farm near Orrville in Alabama. Husband Jamie stayed at home with daughters Casey and Lil, manning the 1,100-hectare operation where they grow soybeans, cotton, peanuts, grain sorghum, and wheat. A “front-line conservationist”, Wendy says they implement several practices on the farm, including conservation tillage, to protect the land and natural resources while growing a healthy crop. Find out more about what sustainability means to Wendy: Alabama Soybean Farmer, Front-Line Conservationist – U.S. Soy (ussoy.org)

Jennifer James, rice farmer

This award-winning, fourth-generation farmer grows rice, corn, and soybeans in Newport, Arkansas with her husband and dad. The family takes pride in providing winter habitat for waterfowl and using practices that conserve the natural resources that have sustained their livelihood for more than 100 years. Jennifer plays an active role in the rice industry; she serves as Chairman of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee and is a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, which provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on environmental issues affecting agriculture and rural communities. Read Jennifer’s story: https://thesustainabilityalliance.us/jennifer-james-usa-rice-federation/

Maddie O’Laire, fisherman

When native Texan Maddie encountered an Alaskan father and son duo while trekking in Nepal, little did she know that her life was about to change. When the pair claimed to live in the most beautiful place in the world, Maddie felt compelled to see it for herself and has been there ever since! Today, the mother-of-three runs a direct-market business selling wild, sustainable Alaskan seafood and occasionally fishes commercially with her husband in Bristol Bay. Read more about Maddie: https://thesustainabilityalliance.us/maddie-olaires-sustainable-seafood-business/

Tina Hinchley, dairy farmer

This Wisconsin dairy farmer’s commitment to sustainability and animal care and her passion for what she does never cease to amaze us. When we interviewed Tina for the This is U.S. Sustainability podcast, we got a glimpse inside her new barn (the benefit of video calls). The size of a U.S. football pitch, the barn offers the ultimate in cow comfort, with waterbed mattresses and fans to keep the animals contented and cool and milking robots that relieve them from the pressure of the milk (and reduce potential infections). Listen to our chat with Tina on the USSA podcast:  https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zaca5-10fb304

Kim Gallagher, row crop farmer

Kim grew up on a farm but didn’t ever see herself becoming a farmer. “When I was younger, not a lot of daughters were taking over their family farms,” she told us. Kim studied biology at college and was a science teacher for ten years. However, when her father became ill, she spent an increasing amount of time on the farm, which she now runs with her husband. She is committed to water conservation, grows cover crops, and uses crop rotation to boost soil health. Read our interview with Kim:  https://thesustainabilityalliance.us/ussa-farmer-spotlight-kim-gallagher-soil-health/

Kimberly Ratcliff, rancher

Kimberly’s route into farming wasn’t a straight line. She first worked as a branding specialist in New York City but gave it all up when she moved to Oakwood, Texas to manage Caney Creek Ranch, a diverse beef operation started by her parents. Today, the once 60-hectare ranch has grown to a 1,000-hectare environmentally sustainable operation under Kimberly’s direction. Kimberly is actively involved in the agriculture community. She helped set up 100 Ranchers, a non-profit organization that unites local ranchers to share best practices and is committed to advancing opportunities for black producers. Read Kimberly’s story: Fridays on the Farm: Coming Back to the Ranch | Farmers.gov

Christine Gemperle, almond farmer

When we recorded a podcast on water conservation, California almond grower Christine Gemperle was the obvious choice. We have spoken to Christine several times and admire her ‘can-do’ attitude. Case in point: Christine has risen to the challenge of climate change and fluctuating irrigation water by implementing five practices that have reduced water consumption in her orchards by at least 20%. These range from strategic irrigation to whole orchard recycling. Tune in to our podcast interview to hear more: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-c644q-1137922

Amy Bruch, organic farmer

Amy was voted 2021 Organic Farmer of the Year, and with good reason. Since taking over her family farm in York County, Nebraska, following the sudden death of her father, Amy and her husband have evolved the operation into one of the country’s most cutting-edge organic farms. Reading about Amy’s commitment to soil health, we knew she would make an excellent interviewee for our soil conservation podcast. And we were right! Listen to our chat with her: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-h4hra-116010e

Casey Cox Kerr, peanut farmer

Casey is a sixth-generation farmer on the Flint River in Georgia. Her family farm, Longleaf Ridge, grows peanuts, sweet corn, field corn, and soybeans, and manages both natural and planted timber. Casey plays an active role in several industry and professional organizations; she is treasurer of the National Peanut Board, a shareholder/member of American Peanut Growers Group, LLC, and serves on the Georgia Peanut Commission Advisory Board. Her unique claim to fame is teaching Cookie Monster and Gonger where peanut butter comes from on Sesame Street! Learn more about Casey and her passion for sustainability: Sustainable at Heart | National Peanut Board

Angela Rogers, forester

For Angela, taking up a career in forestry was an easy choice. She grew up spending time in the woods with her dad and grandfather, and today, with a Forest Management degree under her belt, she uses her passion and knowledge to help private landowners understand their forests, the benefits they provide, and how to sustain them into the future. Read about Angela and other women in Wisconsin forestry: Trail Blazers: Women In Forestry Careers Cut A Path For Diversity – Issuu