If you are thinking about a career in the ag industry, Holly Bauman is the woman to talk to. As Agronomy Training Coordinator for The Equity, she travels extensively doing outreach and recruiting for one of the largest independent agricultural cooperatives in Illinois. The Equity offers a broad range of products to its customer, covering 10,000 square miles.
Bauman was inspired to pursue ag after being involved in 4-H for 10 years. During college, she landed an internship with Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C at the 4-H National Youth Conference Center, where she created and presented workshops on developing leadership skills, met with Senators and House Representatives from Illinois, and led 4-H members in the program on tours of Washington D.C. as licensed tour guide. Memorable parts from her internship included, touring the Pentagon, a flood shutting down parts of Washington D.C. and watching the 4th of July fireworks from Iwo Jima.
She went on to graduate from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Education, and a minor in Spanish. While in college, she also studied in Granada, Spain through a study abroad program. Following graduation, Bauman went on to teach high school agriculture where she especially enjoyed taking her ag business classes to Chicago to see the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank.
“I love developing students into leaders and preparing them with skills needed for the workplace,” said Bauman. “It’s really great when you see the lightbulb go off and you know they get it.”
Bauman’s experience teaching prepared her well for her current position in the crops department at The Equity.
“It’s important to surround yourself with experts in your field,” she said.
She also appreciates having her current supervisor as a mentor, and is grateful to high school ag teachers who helped her along the way. Her advice for women getting into the ag field is to “get out of your comfort zone and network as much as you can.” She relaysthat conferences are a great educational experience and a good way to network.
"Technology in Ag will be a key for the future careers."
According to the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, as of May 2015, there were 57,900 job openings in agriculture and related fields each year. However, just 35,400 students graduate annually with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture. This deficit of over 22 thousand jobs will become an important area of focus as we try to manage the difficult task of feeding over 9 billion people by 2050.
Bauman says the biggest change in agriculture is the use and availability of technology. “Yield monitors, crop modeling, variable rate applications, drones, etc. allow growers to be more efficient and profitable in their business,” says Bauman
Helping others adapt to these changes is one of her many roles at The Equity. Holly also coordinates training for the agronomy department and is working to develop a company-wide leadership program and recruitment video. “We really invest in our people and we believe in giving them the right tools and training to do the best job possible,’ says Bauman.
Outside of work, Holly and her husband, who also works for The Equity, have two boys ages 3 and 6 that keep them busy and active.