By SUSAN BLOWER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Two long-time leaders in agriculture were honored Friday by Purdue Extension at the Indiana State Fair.
Louise Beaman is the recipient of the 2010 Women in Agriculture achievement award, which is given to women who work on a farm and serve as advocates for farmers. Carolyn Hegel is the winner of the leadership award, which highlights women in agribusiness or policymaking positions.
“This is a new day (for women). We had over 600 freshmen enroll in agriculture (at Purdue), and over half were women,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “They need role models.”
Akridge said in his introduction that these two honorees fit that description.
Beaman owns and operates Beaman Farms near Franklin, Ind., along with her husband, Marvin, and her son, Jeff. She reaches out to her community by conducting on-farm tours and by supporting the county farm festival.
Beaman describes herself as an “extra set of hands” on the farrow-to-finish hog and grain farm in Johnson County.
“When my son graduated from Purdue, I was able to step out of the farm to go to Washington D.C. as an advocate for Purdue,” Beaman said.
She has been one of three delegates from the state to the national Council for Agriculture, Extension and Teaching (CARET) for 11 years. The delegates visit Congressional offices to talk about funding for ag research, teaching and land grants.
“These are competitive grants. If we hadn’t been there to explain how important it is to us, how it will be used ...” Beaman shrugged her shoulders to indicate how uncertain the funding is.
Also Beaman has been the county Farm Bureau president for six years and dealt with such issues as urban sprawl and the pipeline from Indianapolis to Evansville.
Chuck Hibberd, associate dean of Purdue Agriculture and director of Extension, said that women are more likely now to market the produce and “stay on top of risk management, giving it day-to-day attention, while the one who is tending the crops is out in the field.”
As a state officer for Indiana Farm Bureau, Hegel has traveled almost 50,000 miles per year attending and speaking at events. She served as the organization’s second vice president, working to raise public awareness of agriculture.
Hegel said she is most proud of the project to put farm in the classroom. She received an Emmy for the educational video, “Exploring Planet Pizza,” which she said hundreds of thousands children have seen.
Also she was able to train farm women to go into the classroom to talk about their own farm. “I’ve seen many women come into our leadership programs, and (as a result) they’ve gotten involved with other organizations and been recognized as true leaders,” Hegel said.
She said farm organizations provide information for those who want to serve as advocates and leaders in their community.
Hegel owns and operates Hegel Homestead Farm in Wabash County and raises a small beef cow/calf herd, from which she provides calves to 4-H members.
Hibberd said the Women in Agriculture program has been an important part of extension work for the past six years.