Amanda Brodhagen; Brunner, Ont.; @amandabrodhagen
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I work in agriculture communications at The Grower News as a digital marketing manager, and Friday to Sunday I work on my family’s beef cattle farm in Brunner, Ont.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to the University of Guelph and studied political science, even though many people thought that I was an “aggie”—an agriculture student.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I was lucky enough to land a job right out of university—there are four jobs for every agriculture graduate in Canada. While I wasn’t an “aggie,” I still like to share that statistic, as there are many meaningful careers out there for young people in agriculture. My first paying gig was for Farms.com as an assistant editor. You could say that I found a calling back to my agricultural roots.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
My big break will be when I own a farm of my own someday. In the meantime, I’m working on my family’s farm and acting as an “agvocate”—someone who actively promotes agriculture by contributing to the food conversation in respectful and meaningful ways.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
I never fully appreciated growing up on a farm until I went away to school. I remember sitting in the classrooms at the University of Guelph, and realizing I was the minority, having grown up in rural Canada. I learned that less than two percent of the population is involved in primary production agriculture. So I knew then that I needed to return back to farming and caring for the land, because who else would?
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?<?h3>
I didn’t get a job I applied for because I didn’t fit “the vision” of what they were looking for. I couldn’t help but feel crushed and a bit bitter that they ended up hiring a man over me. Eventually I decided it wasn’t meant to be. I started to look for creative ways to utilize my passion for farm politics, which found me advocating for farmers at the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. I have since transitioned over to The Grower News, owned by the association.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Get a mentor and surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you and push you to be your best self.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
That I need a husband in order to run a farm. I am on a path to prove them wrong.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
While women have always played a significant role in the agriculture industry, not enough women are in leadership roles. One of the biggest barriers is being able to break into the old-boys club on agriculture boards, associations and at the corporate level. I have had trouble with people not taking me seriously or giving me only tasks that are administrative or communications-focused, I rarely am given the opportunity to provide insight into policy decisions. There are other common barriers that I haven’t personally faced, but I know many other women in my field have, including access to childcare.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle/day job for extra cash? If so, what is it?
If I could farm full-time I would. But it’s a high-risk business with significant capital costs. My role at The Grower News is my main source of income, and I pick up a couple extra hours a week at a local feed mill near my family’s farm.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
That we’re lazy and entitled. I work multiple jobs and make time to volunteer and give back to my community.
Photographer, Nathan Cyprys; stylist, Corey Ng, P1M; hair, Cia Mandarello, P1M; makeup: Vanessa Jarman, P1M.