MSU has recently received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a sum of $94,000. Through the support of the grant and several backers, MSU plans to increase the gender diversity within the agricultural fields. Currently, women make up 34 percent of the agricultural work force, and MSU would like to explore the possibilities of that percentage increasing.
The grant will help to fund several agricultural initiatives, including a two-credit online course, a survey of women who currently work within the Montana agricultural system, funding for ten paid agricultural interns and a two-day informational summit held at MSU. The two-credit course will focus on bringing young women into contact with women within the field of agriculture who possess real-world experience. The grant will also cover two-thirds of the class’s tuition and will help ensure that the credits earned from taking the class will be transferable within the Montana University System.
Additionally, the survey will help MSU to better understand the achievements, goals and aspirations of women currently working within the agricultural field. Similarly, the paid internships funded by the grant will allow newer generations of women to shadow various agricultural disciplines in order to develop goals and applicable field-specific skills. Finally, the summit will feature several presenters, panels, discussions, a photography contest and several short videos showcasing opportunities that currently exist for women working within the Montana agricultural system.
With these initiatives, MSU hopes to move ambitiously forward into twenty-first century agriculture. By increasing diversity within the agricultural field, MSU will both increase the work force available to farms and will help to ensure food security for future generations of Americans.