The 2013 Missouri State Fair had an emphasis on women in agriculture and saw the first year for the Women in Agriculture awards. Now in its second year, two more women have been honored for their contributions to the industry.
Tammy Bartholomew, of Archie, received the title of Missouri Woman in Agriculture, and Ashlyn Richardson, of Lincoln, received the title of Missouri Woman in Agriculture Rising Star. Both women come from agriculture backgrounds, and understand the importance of educating young people about the industry.
Bartholomew is a retired agriculture instructor and FFA advisor after 30 years in education. Her time with FFA began when she was a high school student living in Oklahoma with her family, and she was one of the first girls nationwide to join the organization. She said her profession as an ag teacher comes from her time in FFA and her family background.
Each woman received a $1,000 donation to the nonprofit of their choice from Monsanto. Bartholomew chose a cause “close to her heart” — the Missouri FFA Leadership Foundation. The organization is fairly new, and works to provide opportunities for FFA members in the state.
“When I found out I was going to be a recipient I contacted the foundation and asked for it to be earmarked for HYMAX Academy,” she said. “It takes the top 100 freshman FFA members in Missouri and these young people spend a weekend in agriculture advocacy training as well as learning to be effective communicators and how to use social media properly within the realms of advocacy. They bring in former national officers, people in the industry today. The kids get a power packed weekend. I’ve been a part of it since its inception three years ago, and it’s awesome to see kids develop, especially at that age.”
Bartholomew also raises registered Angus cattle, and her daughters have shown cattle since 2000. She is also a member of the National and Missouri Cattlemen’s Associations, and the American and Missouri Angus Associations. She was previously president of the Missouri Angus Auxiliary and a past junior advisor for the Junior Angus Association. She made another mark in the history of women in agriculture when she served as the first female President of the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association.
Richardson said she has been involved with agriculture since she was born, growing up on an Angus cattle farm. She continues to help with the family farm while she studies agriculture education-leadership at the University of Missouri.
“I hope to be able to promote agriculture through sales and marketing as well as public relations, and this will enable me to be a FFA adviser, helping youth,” she said.
The college senior also shows and raises registered Angus cattle and market steer, and helps younger students in FFA and 4-H with their cattle projects.
Richardson chose to donate her $1,000 to a cause that is close to her heart as well — The Missouri State Fair Foundation Youth in Agriculture Scholarship.
“I was a recipient of that scholarship and it made me feel very honored to receive it at the fair to help me go through college,” she said. “The foundation gives $1,000 scholarships to several individuals, and I wanted to play a role in allowing another individual to receive that scholarship.”
Bartholomew and Richardson will be recognized during a ceremony Thursday as part of Women in Agriculture Day at the fair. Both women have been part of the state fair for many years — Richardson said she’s attended every year of her life — and each have plans for the 2014 fair.
Bartholomew will be helping her niece and nephew in the FFA cattle show Saturday and she’ll be back for the steer show and to watch some friends show their pigs, as well as attend some exhibits and events. Richardson will be competing in the junior and open Angus heifer shows, as well as showing a market pig for the first time. She also plans to visit the FFA building, and her family has a tradition of getting fried green tomatoes at a stand across from the barnyard every year.
Both recipients said they were honored to receive the award, and that the award is a chance to recognize the large role women play in agriculture.
“I think it’s important to show the importance women play in agriculture because it takes women and men to promote agriculture, whether it’s through the farm or public relations aspects,” Richardson said. “I think it takes a team. Sometimes it appears to be difficult for a woman to do everything on the farm, and sometimes it can be, but men definitely need women and women need men — they assist each other to make agriculture grow and continue what it is today and continue feeding the world.”
“It’s a really neat opportunity that the state fair has provided here. Women have had a huge role in agriculture,” Bartholomew said. “There are several women across the state that run their own farm or are partnered with their husband and they work side by side.
“It first became evident to me when I heard stories about my mom when she grew up on a dairy operation. They milked by hand then, and she had to milk 10 cows each morning before school with her three brothers. Women have always been a part of agriculture, they just may not physically have the abilities but with the same token they are capable of running an operation effectively. I’m humbled to be recognized — a lot of women do it full-time, I do it part-time and taught, but some women work day in and day out. It’s pretty special to be able to be a part of this.”