The Advancing Women Conference in October was exciting and thought-provoking, promoting an environment of interaction and determination. Returning to everyday life was challenging, but, it is here that the advancing of women in agriculture will really happen. One opportunity leads to the next and we learn to maximize each opportunity.
It has never been easy to sustain inspiration when resuming daily routines. Rural women of the past, who had limited opportunities for advancement, must have faced overwhelming challenges when they returned to their more sheltered home lives. I was given a family photograph, taken in 1932 beside the familiar walls of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, featuring 105 young women gathered as guests of the Ontario Department of Agriculture. Their pride and timid excitement is evident even in sepia. What are their stories of advancement?
The RAWF has been advancing the community of agriculture for over 90 years. Those familiar walls could tell a unique story of the heritage, heartbreak and happiness of rural life. The archways and stall boards have seen generations proudly prepare and present exhibits and then deal with the thrill or the disappointment of competition. My 2015 visit to The Royal proved again that, while steeped in tradition, this annual celebration continues to provide vital opportunities for advancing young and old, rural and urban, male and female.
Each of us needs to seek out opportunities to advance ourselves and to advance others. Words inspire but actions make change. Opportunities is a noun. Keep it plural! Advancing is an adjective & a verb. Doubly important!