By: Emma Morris, Editor-in-Chief of the Brock Center, Senior agricultural communication major
On October 14, the third annual Young Women in Agriculture Career and Leadership Seminar (YWALS) took place on Cal Poly’s campus. Agricultural communication senior Emma Morris and agricultural science senior Mady Braught planned and hosted the event as their senior project. YWALS started as a senior project in 2015 when Cal Poly graduates Diane Myer and Natalie Madson conceived the event and saw it to fruition, and it has flourished over the past three years. In 2016, YWALS was put on by Crystal Avila and past Brock Center Editor-in-Chief Samantha Wallace. While the target demographic is high school aged girls (primarily juniors and seniors looking to apply to college), women and men of all ages are certainly welcome.
Each year, the hosts choose a theme and invite industry-leading speakers to lead workshops and keynote addresses. In 2015, the theme was “Put Your Best Boot Forward,” wherein attendees were encouraged to be their best selves when applying for jobs and entering the industry. In 2016, the theme was “Brand Yourself.” Speakers addressed how they developed their personal brands and the importance of making a name for yourself in business and life. This year, the theme was “Framing Your Future.” Those in attendance were challenged by the speakers to be conscientious of how they are framing their futures now in order to maximize their success in their careers and lives.
This year, there were five guest speakers at YWALS. Celeste Settrini, a cattle rancher and owner of a graphic design company from Salinas, Calif. lead a workshop about blessings and knowing yourself and personality type. Newly appointed CEO of Farm Supply Company Cara Crye developed an interactive presentation about building the frame of your life with four strong sides as a foundation. Lisa Cork, a leader in the produce industry and CEO of her own consulting firm, joined the conference all the way from New Zealand and talked to attendees about making their passion their paycheck. Recent Cal Poly Agribusiness graduate Vanessa Alexandre lead a workshop about how she’s achieved success after college in her family’s dairy and egg business in northern California. Then, keynote speaker and New Mexico rancher Matt Rush addressed the whole group and left them with some inspirational words about building a solid frame, being nice to people, and not getting in the way of your own success.
The conference was well attended with around 75 guests, and a tri-tip lunch was provided by the Agricultural Engineering Society. As this event is completely student-run and funded through sponsorships from industry organizations, it’s success is wholly dependent on interested Cal Poly students choosing to pursue it as a senior project. However, since the event has gained momentum, popularity, and attendance each year, it will likely be a successful event for many years to come.