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Find your tribe

Tara Vander Dussen for Progressive Dairy Published on 08 August 2019

More than a year ago, I received a random direct message (DM) on Instagram. It was from a female farmer out in California who I had never met. She asked if I wanted to join a female farmer group. If I am being honest, it was pretty random. (We laugh about this now.) Why would I want to join a group of women I had never met? But, I thought, “What the heck? I am a millennial. Why not make friends with random strangers on the internet?” So that’s when I decided to say yes to joining the group!

At the time, I was trying to navigate the world of Instagram. I had just started sharing daily on my Instagram feed and stories. I wasn’t sure how to tell my story. I didn’t know any of the “tricks” or what hashtags to use. I had no idea how the algorithms worked or how to grow my account. And I didn’t really “know” anyone else on Instagram who was advocating for agriculture. So I figured I could use all the help I could get.

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Our group of 15 or so started out as a simple “comment pod” to help with Instagram growth and engagement. The idea was to share your new post to the group and the others would comment and like your post. But over the last year, our group has grown and changed into so much more. Through this group, I have found an amazing community of female farmers. We share ideas, encourage each other and support our brands and businesses. We are there for each other during good days and bad. When one of us starts something new, whether that’s a podcast, ebook, online course, new apparel or just big wins, we all are the first there to cheer each other on.

Some members have moved on and left the group, and we have added others. With the group we have now, we are incredibly close. We are from all different types of agriculture. From vineyards to beef, to hogs, to chickens, to row crops, to lavender and more. We are from multiple states across the country. And some members are even international. We talk almost every day about farming, life, family and hobbies. We just share our day-to-day. Sometimes we need advice, and sometimes we need to vent, and sometimes we just need a good laugh.

Why am I telling you all this? Why should you care? Because I truly want every woman to have this kind of group. For them to feel this kind of support from their peers, their fellow farmHERs. We need people in our lives who get us, understand us. Sometimes we have that in real life with our friend groups, and sometimes you can find the closest friends at the farthest distances via social media.

And why do women in agriculture in particular need a support group? Well, because women are still finding their place in agriculture. We still get the “Can I talk to the farmer? I mean your husband” comments. We still are underrepresented. We are still trying to make people understand that we can do it! We are in a male-dominated industry. And even though we are finally changing that and changing people’s perceptions, sometimes it’s helpful to talk and share with other female farmers, telling them your struggles and listening to their perspectives.

We are all looking to connect with people. Farm life can be isolating at times. And this can be incredibly hard on our mental health. Maybe it’s because you live out in the country (which can feel like the middle of nowhere) or because you spend more time on the farm than off or because you spend a majority of your time at home with your littles. It can be hard to find the time to prioritize friendships. But it is oh-so important.

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So what’s my advice? Find your tribe. The people you can relate to. Whether that be in your community, online or at conferences. In this day and age, there are so many ways to connect. Most communities have ag programs, charity groups and county boards. Online you can find Facebook groups like The Rural Woman Podcast Community and Dairy Girl Network, or on Instagram through accounts like @women.in.ag and @Farmher. And at conferences like those put on by Dairy Girl Network or Farmher. The possibilities are endless.

I know it can be nerve-racking to get out of your comfort zone, to branch out and meet new people. But I can promise you, it’s worth it. We all need support and encouragement. Someone to help build us up. Or sometimes just someone to chat with. Interacting and connecting with women in agriculture can give you such a sense of community. And that community might be exactly what you are looking for.  end mark

Follow Tara at her blog, New Mexico Milkmaid.

Tara Vander Dussen
  • Tara Vander Dussen

  • Environmental Scientist – Glorieta Geoscience
  • Dairy Producer – Clovis, New Mexico
  • Email Tara Vander Dussen

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