Alison Sklarczyk, owner and lab manager at Sklarczyk Seed Farm, shares her insights
March is Women’s History Month, and Spudman reached out to Alison Sklarczyk, owner and lab manager at Sklarczyk Seed Farm and 2019 Spudwoman of the year, to learn more about what inspired her and what advice she wanted to share with other women in the field. Our team celebrates Sklarczyk’s contributions to the industry, along with so many other women in agriculture!
How long have you been working in agriculture?
I graduated from Michigan State in 2005 and worked at a local vet clinic until I joined the farm and greenhouse team in 2008.
What inspired you to work in agriculture?
My grandparents grew sweet corn and soybeans and raised sheep in central Indiana — it was the highlight of my summers to be down there with them. Even as a very young girl, I knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture in some form.
Did you have a mentor, if so who and how did that individual assist you along the way?
I’ve been so fortunate to have many impactful mentors along my journey. Other than my incredible family, two that stand out are Dr. David Hawkins, one of my beef cattle management professors at Michigan State who was always there to gently encourage and remind me that I did belong in ag, no matter my background and suburban upbringing; and Beth Kassuba, a lab technician here at the greenhouse. She is one of Sklarczyk Seed Farm’s long-standing employees, and after my mother-in-law, Mary Kay, passed away many years ago, Beth had the experience, guidance and nurturing personality to help me manage the lab the way Mary Kay would’ve wanted.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment or mark on this industry?
I love knowing that I’m playing a part in feeding the world. Since we are the very beginning of a potato’s journey to the consumer, I get the chance to work on many meaningful projects to benefit people around the globe through production and research trials. It’s humbling to have such a large impact from our greenhouse and row crop operation.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other women in agriculture?
Get involved in your industry’s organizations, whether it’s at a local, regional, state or national level. If needed, give yourself time to get acquainted with the group, then take on an active role. You’ve got unique ideas and a fresh perspective, and you deserve to be heard!