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Farmer and educator Susan Brocksmith supports women in ag

This Knox County, Ind., Farm Bureau member works to lead and create opportunities for other women in agriculture.

April 23, 2024

3 Min Read
Susan Brocksmith smiles for a photograph
SUPPORTING WOMEN: Susan Brocksmith has worked to create opportunities for her students over the years — especially for women finding their place in the ag industry. Photos courtesy of Susan Brocksmith

by Colleen Settle

Being a woman in agriculture doesn’t only mean working on the farm. Women also work in agribusiness, teach the next generation about the importance of ag, and use their voices to educate and raise awareness for ag.

According to Purdue College of Agriculture student demographics in 2023, female students continue to be the majority, with 62% of undergraduate ag students being female. Students across the state in a variety of ag programs can learn from teachers and mentors who lead them. One of those leaders is Susan Brocksmith.

Brocksmith, an Indiana Farm Bureau member from Knox County, was raised on a family farm near Bicknell, Ind. She studied ag systems management at Purdue and has worked in a variety of jobs, including as a sales representative for Monsanto Chemical Co., research assistant for the Southwest Purdue University Research Farm and assistant county supervisor for a soil and water conservation district.

Finding a home in teaching

For the past 35-plus years, Brocksmith’s passion has been teaching ag. She currently serves as dean of the Public Service Division Office at Vincennes University. Prior to that, she was chair of the agribusiness program, where she developed the agribusiness concentration in business technology — a four-year bachelor’s degree program — in 2013.

“Before this program, there was only an associate degree in agribusiness available at Vincennes University,” Brocksmith says. “This program provided graduates the ability to really advance their careers and compete in the ag business job market.”

Brocksmith also is a co-owner and operator of P.E. Brocksmith and Son Farm with her husband, Mike, and son-in-law, Nathan DeBord. They farm corn and soybeans near Vincennes, Ind., where they have invested in regenerative agriculture for over 30 years. The Brocksmiths focus on no-till farming, cover crops and planting green.

“We do everything we can to work with Mother Nature,” Brocksmith adds. “We want to make our farm profitable while being a good steward of the land.”

Aerial view of a farm

Brocksmith is actively involved in her local ag community. She is on the Knox County Farm Bureau board of directors and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council board, and she partners with the local SWCD and Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative for educational projects. Brocksmith also started the Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at Vincennes University and served as the first chapter adviser.

“Being a chapter adviser for the Collegiate Farm Bureau was near and dear to my heart,” Brocksmith explains. “It was a steppingstone for students and taught them how important leadership is in the farming industry. It educated them on becoming advocates for ag.”

Brocksmith notes that there has been a shift in the acceptance of women in all aspects of ag and in a variety of the industry’s sectors — from working directly in the field to agribusiness and technology or equipment sales.

“Women have always been able to do these jobs,” Brocksmith says. “They have the knowledge, skill level and understanding. This has always been the case. The acceptance level has increased dramatically over the last 40 years.”

Settle is public relations manager-brand for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc.

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