The newest recipients of Purdue Extension’s Women in Agriculture awards are from opposite sides of the Hoosier state but their passion for agriculture and winning the award in the same year will always link them.
Deborah Jordan of Jordan Farms in Richmond is a mother of 5 and a former teacher who now contributes on the farm and teaches others about agriculture.
“I think that the non-farming community is becoming more removed just because of the way the world is changing and they don’t have a connection to agriculture anymore,” she told HAT. “It’s several generations away, so it’s important for them to understand our culture and our purpose and our commitment.”
And she helps others learn about those things through her work in Farm Bureau, 4-H, Extension and local schools. Jordan is the recipient of this year’s Achievement Award for women directly involved with a home farming operation.
The passion for ag by the winner of the Leadership Award starts with her heritage. Marianne Ash of Lafayette is a veterinarian and director of Animal Health Programs for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.
“I grew up in a rural community and farming family,” she explained. “I saw the commitment they had to their work. Many people in agriculture could do many other things and maybe have a little easier life, but they have a passion for what they do and that’s important to have a happy life, to feel that what you’re doing is important and it really energizes you to participate. And I think that we see and recognize that our food supply is like none other in the world and it’s critical to our national security and the future generations.”
Her award is given to a woman in an agribusiness or policymaking position.
Jordan has some sage advice for other women in agriculture on how to influence agriculture’s future.
“I certainly would encourage them to consider themselves equal in their ability to influence the future for agriculture, and then I think they have to choose to operate in the arena where their skill sets are most compatible. Maybe they’re good at public speaking. Maybe they’re good at writing. Maybe they’re good scientists or maybe they like to work the land or the animals. There are many avenues for them. They just have to look at what their skills are and where they would like to serve.”
From Purdue Ag Communications:
The Jordan farm is a 3,000-acre family-owned grain farm and farrow-to-finish swine operation in Richmond. Jordan’s work includes keeping records for the 1,200 sows, weaning more than 500 piglets a week, administering vaccines and monitoring herd health.
Jordan is also the District Six Farm Bureau women’s leader, advocating for Indiana agriculture across the state and supervising educational activities for women’s programs in eight east-central Indiana counties. She volunteers for the Wayne County Farm Bureau’s “Ag in the Classroom” program and educates more than 500 students on how food is produced. After budget cuts reduced local Extension educator positions, Jordan stepped in to coordinate the “Chick It Out” program, which delivers incubators and fertile eggs to elementary classrooms in Richmond.
Jordan has also served as founder and leader of a 4-H club and Parent Teacher Organization president for Garrison Elementary School. She is a member of the Wayne County 4-H and Extension boards, Extension Homemaker Club, Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council. Jordan volunteers at the Preble County Pork Festival and Wayne County Conservation Days.
As the director of Animal Health Programs for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Ash plans and coordinates state-level responses to animal health emergencies and disease outbreaks.
She has pioneered disease traceability and biosecurity work in Indiana, spearheading new software programs such as the USAHERDS database, which was created to help protect animal health, public health and the economy in the event of animal health emergencies and other disasters. Ash also acts as a link between the Board of Animal Health and producers and recently worked with swine operations in their effort to control porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.
Her other leadership roles include serving as a board member of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, a chairperson of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee for Disaster Preparedness and Public Health, an adjunct professor at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the U.S. secretary of agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Swine Health Protection. She previously served as a member of the Purdue Extension Agrosecurity Team and the U.S. Animal Health Association’s Committee on Foreign and Emerging Diseases.
Hear more from both winners:Deborah Jordan and Marrianne Ash