Leaning into Women in Agriculture
Alannah Jagpal, a fourth-year student in Applied Biology, was sponsored by the Dean’s Office to join the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference (AWC), held in Calgary on March 12-14. Jagpal shares what she gained through the experience.
Who did you meet at AWC that made an impact, and why?
Every person I met at the conference from students to the Minister of Agriculture had an impact on me. Julia Flinton, who is a cattle producer and manager of Food Systems Program ISPARC, made an impact on me with how she ended her talk. After explaining all these unbelievably amazing things she’s done throughout her life/career, she said, “I feel like I’m just faking it until I make it. But really, what am I faking?” As someone who constantly faces imposter syndrome in the agriculture industry, it was almost comforting to know that even people who are literally changing the world feel this way. I learned how important it is to remind ourselves and think, “what am I faking?” and you will easily come to realize that everything you’re doing is real and you are truly meant to be where you are no matter how we may make ourselves feel.
What were some key takeaways that you gained from attending AWC?
After all the speeches and people I met at the conference my key takeaway was, I can do it (although I don’t know what my “it” is yet). These women have quite literally done it all (farmers, mothers, entrepreneurs, veterinarians). It was so inspiring to hear where many of them started out and where they are now. They are my first-hand proof that dedication, hard work and passion will take you wherever you want to be in life. They showed me that hardships and struggles do not define your journey or who you are but overcoming them does. There have been so many times where I thought that my goals in life were too far to reach but seeing these women live out my dreams and goals made me realize, “maybe my goals are closer than I thought”.
What is your background in agriculture?
For as long as I can remember, agriculture and farming have been the centre of my being. When my maternal family came from India in 1914, they made a living and survived by becoming dairy farmers. I come from a long history of farmers and grew up on a raspberry and blueberry farm myself. After being immersed in the agriculture industry for so long, I decided to follow my passion and am currently pursuing a degree in Applied Biology majoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Environment.
Throughout my education I have studied and learned much about the current issues farmers are facing in regards to the sustainability and longevity of farming systems. Issues based around soil science (infertility, contamination, degradation) and crop production fuel my desire for further knowledge in the area as I know first-hand how these issues affect farmers.
My schooling has taught me developed ideas which researchers know successfully combat these issues, but it has also introduced phenomena which are less understood yet have the potential to be even more successful. These less-developed ideas are what drive my passion to create change and make a more positive future for next-generation farmers. The change that research brings to the agriculture industry is so important, which is why I applied for and recently completed my research practicum position at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre.