Women are the Unsung Heroes of Agriculture
While speaking about his book “American Farmer” at the Potatoes USA annual meeting in Denver a few months ago, photographer Paul Mobley said women are the unsung heroes of agriculture. The book was his personal photography project to capture the lives, values and personas of farmers across the country. In doing so, he recognized the valuable contribution of women in the industry, and asserted the need for their recognition.
Beginning in 2015, we have devoted each May/June issue of Spudman to honoring the contributions of women. There are so many outstanding Spudwomen out there in our audience. We expect to have years of interviewing and storytelling, documenting all the good they do and sharing the value they provide to the potato industry. There are hundreds of them in all segments of the industry: growers, shippers, researchers and marketers.
Our “Proud to be a Spudwoman” bumper stickers were added to Spudman’s set of trade show promotional giveaways about the same time we first began publishing the “Women of the Industry” issue. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. As we travel across potato production regions, it’s easy to spot “Spudwoman” stickers on doors, refrigerators, wall frames and, of course, vehicle bumpers.
With this growing response to Spudman’s recognition of women, we wanted to do even more. At this past year’s Potato Expo, the idea to create a new award honoring women of the industry was born. We already have our Emerging Leader Award, an honor that women in the industry have been nominated for and won, but we wanted an award that could be exclusive to women.
2017 is the debut of the Spudwoman of the Year Award. We introduced this award in February and had a great response: 15 women who were growers, shippers, researchers and marketers, representing each potato production region, received 30 nominations. The competition was strong and the evaluation by the four award judges thorough. On April 6, we announced Addie Waxman, director of research and development at 1,4 Group in Meridian, Idaho, as the 2017 Spudwoman of the Year. You can read her “Spudwoman of the Year” feature on page 10. We also have additional “Women of the Industry” features for Melanie Likes, a grower from Shelley, Idaho, and Beverly Searle, from Burley, Idaho, who was part of the NPC Potatoes D.C. Fly-In back in February.
Special thanks to all those who helped make this year’s Women of the Industry issue and the Spudwoman of the Year Award a success. Lockwood Manufacturing is the award sponsor. Our editorial board, along with Yi Wang from the University of Idaho (winner of this year’s Emerging Leader Award), served as judges for the award.
To all of you who nominated women, or received nominations, thank you. There were many qualified nominees for this year’s award. I hope you will continue making nominations in future years. There are many great Spudwomen to honor with this distinction.
Women may be the unsung heroes of agriculture, but not here at Spudman magazine, and especially not in this Women of the Industry issue, where we are delighted to sing their praises.