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Professor sets example for other young women in agProfessor sets example for other young women in ag

Jessica Baggerman shares her experiences with her students at Huntington University.

March 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Jessica Baggerman standing in front of a white fence
YOUNG LEADER: Jessica Baggerman carries out several leadership roles, both as an assistant professor of agriculture at Huntington University and through her position with Indiana Farm Bureau. Courtesy of Jessica Baggerman

by Colleen Settle

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s latest farm census from 2017, more than 31,000 farmers in Indiana are women. According to the Purdue College of Agriculture student demographics, 62% of undergraduate students in the college are female.

But a woman in agriculture doesn’t just mean she works on the farm. You’ll also find women working in agribusiness, educating and using their voice to raise awareness for agriculture.

Take Jessica Baggerman, for example. She grew up on a cotton, grain and beef cow-calf operation in Pampa, Texas, where her love of farming was engrained in her from an early age.

“I was raised a fourth-generation farmer,” Baggerman says. “I knew I had to be involved in animal ag when I was older.”

Baggerman earned her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University, her master’s degree from Texas Tech University and her doctorate from Texas Tech, as well — all in animal science. Her graduate research focused on impacts of feed additives on muscle growth in feedlot cattle.

After graduating with her doctorate, she joined the Huntington University faculty in 2017 as an assistant professor of agriculture. She teaches animal and food science, advises undergrads, and coordinates judging for competitive teams. Baggerman also oversees care of livestock at Three Rivers Farm and the Don Strauss Animal Science Education Center, which are part of the university in Huntington, Ind.

Ask questions

Baggerman notes that people are often surprised that she is a younger female professor, even mistaking her for a student sometimes. However, she is seeing a change when it comes to females in animal science.

“The majority of animal science students are female,” Baggerman says. “And now we are starting to see the professor profile be more reflective of the students. We always want a diverse population across the board, but it’s good to know there are more females coming up in this area.”

Besides her role as assistant professor, Baggerman serves as the Huntington University Collegiate Farm Bureau adviser, as well as the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ag Professionals District 4 chair. Her goal is to help influence different issues impacting agriculture and to encourage young farmers in her area to get more involved.

When it comes to women who are interested in agriculture and want to break into the industry, Baggerman’s recommendation is to ask questions.

“There is so much room for women in the industry, even beyond the traditional roles on the farm,” Baggerman says. “Use your resources, be curious and find other female ag professionals who you can network with and get their advice. There are no stupid questions. Sometimes you just have to dig for the answers.”

Settle is public relations manager-brand for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. She writes from Indianapolis.

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