March is Women’s History Month and according to USDA, nearly a third of our nation’s famers are women, generating $12.9 billion in annual agriculture sales. Women are involved in other areas of agriculture as well: scientist, veterinarians, policy makers, business owners, and many more. Women have an increasing presence in agriculture, which will continue to grow. The Utah Farm Bureau Federation & American Farm Bureau are taking the time to highlight women in agriculture.
Suzzy Rowley-Sowing the Young Seeds
Suzzy Rowley, a farmer, rancher, Kindergarten teacher and literacy coach at Altamont Elementary School is truly sowing seeds of agriculture literacy. Rowley and her husband Shane own a cattle ranch and grow grass hay and pasture.
“I work as a teacher,” Rowley said, “And Shane works in the oil field. Our side jobs support our farming habit."
Rowley grew up in a rural area and her family owned horses and chickens, but cows were somewhat foreign to her.
“The whole cow thing was a learning experience,” Rowley said. “I joined FFA in high school, and my FFA advisor trained me to judge dairy cows, even though I knew nothing about them. I ended up beating everyone in the Uintah Basin competition, and placed at the state level.”
Rowley shares her love for agriculture with her students, “Every year I have the kids plant their own radishes, because they grow fairly fast and seem hard to kill,” Rowley said. “They love watching the growth progress.”
Rowley said she uses many Ag in the Classroom resources, and likes to bring different vegetables and plants from her own garden to the classroom and gives lessons on roots and plant growth.
“Even though we live in a rural area, I’m still surprised by how much kids don’t know about agriculture,” Rowley said. “Some think that chocolate milk comes from a brown cow, so I enjoy teaching them while they’re young.”
Rowley’s husband, Shane, said he admires Rowley’s commitment to agriculture and her classroom.
“When she gets involved with something, she focuses all her efforts into accomplishing that task until it’s done,” Shane said. “I appreciate that about her.”
Rowley and her family have also been very involved in Farm Bureau.
“We got involved in Farm Bureau 26 years ago,” Rowley said, “We have served on the county, state and national YF&R committees, and I served a term as the national discussion meet chair.”
Rowley said she likes being involved in an organization where a husband and wife can do things together and learn about farming and promoting agriculture.
“I really love Farm Bureau, because it’s helped me develop leadership skills,” Rowley said. “And we’ve made friends with farmers of different commodities all over the nation, and have been able to learn about their struggles. Farm Bureau truly is for everybody.”
I admire that she went out of her comfort zone and tried something new and got involved in the ag classes. It helped her to understand my background a little more.
When she gets involved with something, at home or with the Farm Bureau, or school, she focuses her efforts on it and puts all the efforts into accomplishing that task until she has it done. She very committed. I appreciate that she is like that.
“The role of women in agriculture is kind of the same as it used to be but it has changed a lot. Women have so many more demands on them and they have to jungle so much more in their life than they used to a couple generations ago. It’s really demanding of them to be involved, and to be a support in agriculture at home.”