Dakota Farmer

Get involved to continue legacies

Organizations like North Dakota Agri-Women rely on next-gen members.

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer

April 7, 2023

3 Min Read
several north dakota agri-women members of 2023
A LASTING IMPACT: North Dakota Agri-Women members gather with Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring: Kat Curren (left), Cindy Pulskamp, Jena Weller, Nancy Johnson, Jenna Kyllo, Alisha Nord-Donnelly, Marsha VanLaere and Sarah McNaughton.Photo courtesy of North Dakota Agri-Women

Many organizations exist to connect its members, serve a larger purpose or give back to the community. These organizations depend on membership to continue the work and legacy started by a group of individuals who had an idea. Without new members to join, revitalize and volunteer their time, these organizations are susceptible to folding.

I first attended a North Dakota Agri-Women meeting during my junior year as a student at North Dakota State University. My sorority Sigma Alpha was a partner member with American Agri-Women, and this was an opportunity for networking and professional development. Fast-forward a few odd years of involvement, and NDAW is celebrating 40 years of advocating for agriculture.

Through its membership, NDAW leads agriculture education programs, awards scholarships to support college-aged women studying agriculture and brings together women with common interests. Women come from all facets of agriculture to join this organization, including production, communication, education, sales and manufacturing.

NDAW operates as a nonprofit, so through the last four decades, members have volunteered their time and efforts because of their belief in the organization’s work. Four executive members put in time and effort for meeting and event logistics, membership drives, and record-keeping of the work accomplished.

The executive team and members give their time speaking at local agriculture events, leading Ag in the Classroom lessons, teaching in the ag education building at the Red River Valley Fair and more.

NDAW also partners with Minnesota Agri-Women to host the Harvest of Knowledge conference each fall, which is celebrating its 40th year in 2023. Hundreds of women from around the region gather the last Friday in October to network, learn from speakers and show their support for the legacy of North Dakota agriculture.

The audience is filled with women ranging from 22 to 92, and everyone’s voice is heard. Women come together to talk through trials and tribulations on the farm and share laughs with friends. No matter if you consider yourself the farm wife or the farmer, you have a common interest with the full room of attendees.

Decades of work to continue

Forty years ago when the organization started, I can only imagine what the agriculture industry looked like for women. I think sometimes my generation can forget to ask the deep questions to those generations who came first, who helped pave a way for changes we benefit from.

Those first charter members started NDAW to make a change, and while they’re no longer attending our annual meetings, it’s up to the members who came after them to continue their efforts. While our years of involvement and experience are less than many, our passion to achieve common goals keep us all moving forward.

Through my time as a member with NDAW, I’ve served on the executive team and numerous committees, and call some of the finest Agri-Women in the state my peers. While the age range of our membership is wide, so are the memories and reach done in years before. This year was the first trip our organization took to the state Legislature, visiting with representatives and senators about current bills affecting agriculture in North Dakota.

Celebrating the milestone years is a big deal for any organization, but this one has special meaning to myself and many others. As one of the youngest members of a group I hold dear, I encourage others from my generation to step up and keep the legacy going.

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like