From championing agriculture to bringing communities together, from finding innovative solutions to showing leadership and mentorship – this year’s Women in Ag Award recipients are breaking down barriers, setting new expectations and bringing fresh ideas and practices to the agriculture industry.

The 2024 Women in Ag Awards were presented during The Notables, a special reception on March 17 in Calgary. The Notables was held in conjunction with the 2024 Advance Women in Agriculture West Conference.

A scene from The Notables, the special reception for the presentation of the 2024 AFSC Women in Ag Awards.
A scene from The Notables, the special reception for the presentation of the 2024 AFSC Women in Ag Awards. (Photo by Amara Studios Still + Video Production)

The 2024 recipients are:

Andrea Hanson, The Promoter

The Promoter advocates for a deeper understanding of agriculture through education, training, or outreach. They support and champion agriculture, expand practical knowledge and skills, and engage with a broad audience to elevate the industry.

Kelly Wobeser-Sidoryk, The Community Builder
The Community Builder brings communities together, elevating the agriculture community and industry, and goes the extra mile to build something bigger than themselves for the agriculture sector. They improve the lives of people in agriculture communities and contribute to community capacity.

Emilee Oro, The AFSC Employee
The AFSC Employee has made exceptional contributions to the advancement of women in agriculture and agri-food. They are distinguished by their outstanding commitment, leadership, and impact on the industry and community.

Penny Miller, The Operator
The Operater is a primary agriculture producer or agri-business owner who is the backbone of their operation or business. They support and empower their peers, providing support systems to other farmers and agri-business colleagues in the industry.

Skyler Vander Velde, The Innovator
The Innovator finds progressive solutions to challenges in agriculture, addressing economic, environmental, and social issues. They contribute to a stronger, healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable agriculture.

Josie Van Lent, The Professional Leader
The Professional Leader works in the agriculture profession and has demonstrated life-long leadership or mentorship within the agriculture or agri-food industry. They significantly influence and champion the advancement of women in agriculture and encourage professional development.

Charlotte Wasylik, The Rising Star
The Rising Star is a young leader under 40 who demonstrates passion for the agriculture industry, shows exceptional promise, and advocates for agriculture. They are taking giant strides in their roles and contributing to the community.

Iris Meck, The Notable Lifetime Achiever
The Notable Lifetime Achiever has demonstrated life-long leadership and mentorship within the agriculture or agri-food industry. They significantly influence and champion the advancement of women in agriculture and support the next generation.

 

Building a stronger, more inclusive industry

Andrea Hanson
The Promoter

Andrea advocates tirelessly for a deeper understanding of agriculture through education, training, and outreach. She has made significant contributions to the development and advancementAndrea, Women in Ag winner 2024 of women in agriculture and the agri-food industry. With a wealth of experience and dedication to her craft, Andrea has made a lasting impact in the field of livestock production and extension services.

From her extensive experience in livestock research to her involvement in community organizations, Andrea has consistently championed the message of inclusivity and empowerment in agriculture. She has shown a commitment to the sector, using her expertise and leadership to empower women in agriculture. Through various roles and initiatives, she has inspired and mentored countless women, paving the way for their success in the industry.

Andrea has played a pivotal role in advancing agricultural practices and animal welfare through her dedication to education and outreach. Her dedication to supporting women researchers and promoting their work has not only enriched the industry but has also highlighted the significant contributions of women in agriculture.

 

Kelly Wobeser-Sidoryk
The Community Builder

Kelly is a notable mentor to women in agriculture. She volunteers on various committees at the Lloydminster Exhibition Association, including Feastival and Agri-Visions, where sheKelly, Women in Ag winner 2024 promotes local food events and showcases the agriculture industry.

However, Kelly’s impact extends beyond local events. She created an annual conference for women hosted in Lloydminster. The conference, now in its 12th year, provides a platform for women to network and learn from each other.

As a certified educator in holistic management and a professional coach, Kelly helps farms and ranches reach their sustainability goals, including planned grazing, financial management, and succession planning. Kelly’s involvement in the agriculture industry is multifaceted. She is a freelance writer, public speaker, and facilitator, and shares her knowledge and experiences with large and small groups alike.

But Kelly’s contributions go beyond her professional endeavors. She volunteers her time to organize local events, facilitate workshops, and support initiatives that promote and build the agriculture industry. Through her dedication and leadership, Kelly has improved the lives of people in agriculture communities across Alberta and beyond. Her impact is clear in the testimonials of those who have worked with her, highlighting her invaluable guidance and support.

 

Emilee Oro
The AFSC Employee

Emilee has made an impact on the agriculture industry through her dedication and tireless efforts. From her early involvement in the East Lacombe Beef 4-H Club to her participation in theEmilee, Women in Ag winner 2024 Young Canadian Simmental Association, she has been influential for young women aspiring to succeed in agriculture.

As an AFSC employee, Emilee has played a role in shaping the industry. For five years, she dedicated herself to the pasture clip program, where she interacted directly with producers, coordinated teams, and provided invaluable training to fellow members. She is dedicated to projecting a positive image for AFSC while prioritizing the needs of our clients.

Now, as she embarks on a new chapter in the AFSC Adjuster Trainee Program, she continues to prioritize client interaction and provide exceptional service. Her extensive travels across Alberta have not only allowed her to fulfill her duties but also to share her love for agriculture and her positive attitude with everyone she meets.

 

Penny Miller
The Operator

Penny’s tireless efforts and commitment have left an indelible mark on the agricultural landscape. She rises with the sun and tends to over 200 animalsPenny, Women in Ag winner 2024 with a dedication that knows no bounds. She is the backbone of the farm, ensuring the well-being of the livestock and managing the day-to-day operations with grace and efficiency.

But her contributions extend far beyond the confines of her farmyard. Penny is a champion for gender equality in agriculture, breaking through traditional barriers and stereotypes with determination and resilience. She has not only paved the way for women in agriculture but has also provided invaluable support and mentorship to her peers, encouraging them to strive for greatness.

Through her collaborative spirit and commitment to the success of her fellow farmers and agri-business peers, Penny has fostered a sense of unity and cooperation within the industry, inspiring others to come together in pursuit of a common goal.

 

Skyler Vander Velde
The Innovator

Skyler embodies the spirit of innovation and forward-thinking in agriculture. Raised on a family ranch, she has dedicated her life to making a difference in the industry.Skyler, Women in Ag winner 2024

Skyler’s journey began at a young age, as she immersed herself in organizations like the Alberta High School Rodeo Association, serving as student president and setting the stage for her future leadership roles. Her commitment to empowering young girls in agriculture continues to this day through private riding lessons, inspiring the next generation of agricultural leaders.

As a co-founder of Business Wide View, Skyler used modern technologies to develop an innovative platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration within the agricultural community. Through this innovative endeavor, she has facilitated conversations and solutions to the industry’s most pressing challenges, from farm management to sustainable practices.

Moreover, her impact extends beyond the digital realm. Through ownership and operation of 43 Equine, Skyler provides a space for horse enthusiasts to learn, grow, and connect with the agricultural lifestyle. From horse boarding to roping lessons and live events, she fosters a sense of community and empowerment among women in agriculture.

Skyler is not just an innovator; she is a trailblazer, a visionary shaping the future of agriculture. She relentlessly pursues new and vibrant solutions, and is committed to empowering women, and dedicated to a stronger, healthier, and more equitable agriculture industry.

 

Josie Van Lent
The Professional Leader

Josie has left a lasting mark on the agricultural landscape through her dedication and remarkable achievements. With a career including roles in extension, agribusiness, education, research,Josie, Women in Ag winner 2024 farming, and ranching, she has exemplified leadership in every aspect of her journey.

Throughout her tenure as Dean of Agriculture at Lakeland College, she played a pivotal role in revitalizing and significantly growing the agriculture program. Her collaborative efforts with students, colleagues, and industry stakeholders were instrumental in shaping the future of agricultural education. Under her leadership, Lakeland College developed Canada’s first Bachelor of Agriculture Technology program, paving the way for countless aspiring agricultural professionals, regardless of gender.

Beyond her academic endeavors, Josie is an active partner in her family’s multi-generational business, where she continues to contribute her expertise and commitment to the industry. Her involvement in various agricultural boards, associations, and committees speaks volumes about her commitment to advancing the agricultural community.

But perhaps her most significant contribution lies in her mentorship of the next generation of agricultural leaders, particularly women. She leads by example, breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Her ability to command respect in any room, coupled with her tireless advocacy for gender equality, has inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams in agriculture.

Her leadership, wisdom, and support have been a guiding light for many navigating the complexities of the agricultural industry.

 

Charlotte Wasylik
The Rising Star

Charlotte was born and raised on Chatsworth Farm, the family farm, located near Vermilion. She has played an integral role in her family’s operation, but it’s her innovative approach and tirelessCharlotte, Women in Ag winner 2024 advocacy that sets her apart.

In the face of the challenges of 2020, Charlotte embraced change and enhanced her farm’s social media presence. From virtual farm tours to monthly trips to Edmonton to sell beef, lamb, and eggs, she has used every opportunity to educate families about day-to-day life on the farm. Her efforts have not only increased awareness of agriculture but have also opened doors for women in the industry.

Through her leadership and advocacy, she has inspired countless individuals to pursue careers in agriculture and has shown that women can contribute to any farm operation. Charlotte’s involvement in organizations like Alberta Young Farmers and Ranchers and her recognition as a Top 50 Influential Leader in Agriculture under the Upstart Category are a testament to her trailblazing spirit and commitment to the industry.

But perhaps most importantly, she continues to take giant strides in her role as an emerging next-generation leader. From hosting Open Farm Days to managing farm-to-table programs and on-farm events, Charlotte exemplifies the spirit of innovation and dedication that defines the future of agriculture.

 

Iris Meck
The Notable Lifetime Achiever

Iris’s roots in agriculture run deep and her story is one of resilience, determination, and dedication to the agricultural sector.Iris, Women in Ag winner 2024

She began her journey on the family farm in Manitoba, where she developed a passion for the land, and learned the value of hard work, integrity, and community. This foundation led her to pursue higher education, earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Certificate in Management from the University of Manitoba.

From her early days working the fields to her ascent through the ranks of corporate giants like Cargill, Iris’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. Breaking barriers and defying expectations, she blazed a trail for women in agribusiness, proving that gender is no obstacle to success.

Iris’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to establish her own agriculture communications and marketing firm, IMCI, in 1999. Through IMCI, she became a driving force behind some of the most impactful initiatives in the industry, showcasing her visionary leadership and innovative approach to agricultural advancement.

But perhaps her most enduring legacy lies in the creation of the Advancing Women Conference in 2014. Iris recognized the need to elevate and empower women in agriculture, and envisioned a platform where aspiring leaders could gather, connect, and inspire one another to reach new heights of achievement. Year after year, the Advancing Women Conference has brought together thousands of women from across Canada and the United States, offering them invaluable opportunities for growth, mentorship, and professional development.

Congratulations to all our 2024 award winners.

 

840 CFCW is the official media partner for the AFSC Women in Ag Award.

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