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Indiana agriculture advocates honored for leadership, passion

Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture recognized three Indiana agriculture leaders on Aug. 5 at the Indiana State Fair.

Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, and Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture, honored the recipients of the Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture 2021 awards.

“It was a great honor to celebrate these women. They are at different stages in their careers and lives, but they have all made significant and notable contributions to agriculture in Indiana and beyond,” Plaut said.

Emerging Women in Agriculture Leadership Award
Purdue senior Molly Grotjan received the Emerging Women in Agriculture Leadership Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of a high school or undergraduate student who has made a positive impact on agriculture.

Grotjan was a 10-year 4-H member in Boone County and will be a senior at Purdue this fall in the department of agriculture economics. She’s held numerous leadership roles while at Purdue including sharing her story with prospective students and families as a Purdue College of Agricultural ambassador and serving on the Purdue Ag Week task force.

In summer 2019, Grotjan served as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Rep. James Baird, Indiana’s 4th District. Grotjan proceeded to propose a new focus for undergraduates in policy and pre-law in the department of agricultural economics, which will be a new concentration this fall.
She worked as the product stewardship intern at Corteva Agriscience and as a supply management intern at John Deere. She also participated in agricultural research with Jayson Lusk, agricultural economics department head, and Scott Downey, Center for Food and Agricultural Business director. Additionally, Grotjan was the Purdue Grand Prix president, Purdue Foundation student board president and Old Masters host.

Extension Women in Agriculture Leadership Award
The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture Leadership Award recognizes a woman in an agribusiness or policymaking position who has actively influenced Indiana agriculture. Tracie Egger, leadership training specialist for AgReliant Genetics, was honored with the award for 2021.

Egger began her professional career as a Purdue Extension educator in Posey County. She was promoted to Purdue Extension specialist in 2000 and named Purdue College of Agriculture’s assistant director in the Office of Academic Programs in 2001.

Egger made a lasting impact on students through student organizations and career advising. In her current role, she develops and facilitates leadership training. For four years, Egger has led the AgReliant Women’s Network, a credible resource for employees to learn about diversity and inclusion.

Egger is a mentor to the current Indiana State FFA president, serves as the Indiana FFA Foundation Board secretary, and has served nationally on swine organization youth committees and foundation boards. Egger and her family are actively involved in the swine industry, raising Berkshires for more than 45 years.

Extension Women in Agriculture Achievement Award
The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture Achievement Award recognizes women who are directly involved in a home farm operation. Isabella Chism of Howard County is the honoree for 2021.

Chism and her husband, Kent, raise corn, high oleic soybeans and sweet corn. Chism drives machinery, unloads grain at harvest, organizes the farm books and sells sweet corn at the local farmer’s market. In 2006, she was elected second vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB). She serves on the INFB board of directors, is a member of the executive committee and the audit committee and chairs the State Women’s Leadership Committee.

Chism is the newly elected chairwoman of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. She also is chair of the Howard County Extension Board, executive director of the Howard County 4-H exhibit association capital projects and an at-large representative on the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council. Chism graduated from the Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series and the Syngenta Leadership at Its Best program and completed “Conversation Leaders” training through the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture awards committee was co-chaired by Beth Vansickle, an Extension educator in Madison County, and Lori Bouslog, an Extension educator in Vermillion County. The Purdue Extension Women in Agriculture team provides educational opportunities and resources for women in the agriculture industry and coordinates the Midwest Women in Agriculture conference.

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