2017 Women Impacting Agriculture Recognized at Women in Ag Leadership Conference

December 6, 2017

2017 Women Impacting Agriculture Recognized at Women in Ag Leadership Conference

Seven Iowa women were recognized at the inaugural Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference held November 28, 2017 in Ames, Iowa. The 2017 Women Impacting Agriculture were honored for making positive changes and creating a more sustainable Iowa by improving economic resiliency and stability, conserving natural resources, and being influential agricultural leaders, family members and community volunteers.

The honorees were selected from applications submitted by ISU Extension and Outreach employees across the state. They demonstrate exceptional contributions to Iowa agriculture through farming and/or agribusiness roles and accomplishments. They also demonstrate the important role women play in Iowa agriculture.

The 2017 Women Impacting Agriculture honorees were introduced to 200 attendees during a special recognition ceremony at the ISU Women in Ag Leadership Conference.

Audrey Brown – Plymouth CountyAudrey Brown – Merrill, Plymouth County

Audrey is the definition of a family-owned business. With her husband Steve and son Clint, Audrey incorporates value-added agriculture by transforming their home-grown produce into jams and jellies for C. Brown Gardens. She demonstrates the essence of producing and purchasing locally!

Audrey’s farm also grows a wide variety of vegetables, as well as natural beef and locally raised pork.

As a member of the Region 5 Local Foods Advisory Committee with ISU Extension and Outreach, Audrey provides input for issues involving local food needs in northwest Iowa. She has hosted several “Farm to Table” dinners at their farm and shares her story about the importance of local foods to agriculture.


Velvet Buckingham – Corydon, Wayne County  Velvet Buckingham – Wayne County

As an environmental specialist with the USDA-NRCS, Velvet serves as the coordinator for the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Project. She works with landowners to establish and implement conservation practices to help minimize soil erosion and nutrient loss. She assists landowners with the cost-share application process and provides technical assistance. She assists with local field days and other outreach activities, and speaks to local school students about the importance of conservation and water quality.

Velvet also manages a Black Angus herd on her family's farm. She feeds cattle, monitors creep feed rations and calf heath, and ensures success during calving season. Velvet uses a rotational grazing system with her herd and works to make improvements to the grazing system.

In her NRCS role, Velvet has built relationships with the local ISU Extension Beef Specialist and Field Agronomist and serves as a valued resource. 

As a mom, Velvet helps her sons’ 4-H clubs with fundraising events and showing heifers at the Wayne County Fair. Always willing to promote agriculture, Velvet speaks at local school ag days and area field days. She also assists the Extension FIeld Agronomist at ISU Extension and Outreach Agronomy in the Field for Women.

Anna MacDonald Golightly – Madison CountyAnna MacDonald Golightly – Winterset, Madison County
Anna serves as the Badger Creek Lake Watershed Project Coordinator through the Soil and Water Conservation District in Madison County. Anna’s focus is on conservation practices, and she’s been a champion in the promotion of cover crops in the Badger Creek Lake Watershed.

As a leader in her community, Anna represents Madison County in a number of conservation groups. She is the president-elect of the Iowa Chaper of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and is a member of the Iowa Prairie Network Board. She is working to form a local team for Women, Land, and Legacy and acts a a leader and liaison by hosting listening sessions. She takes every possible opportunity to educate people on the importance of conservation practices.

Anna holds both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s from Iowa State University. She has continued learning through ISU Extension and Outreach programs including Women Managing Cattle, which has helped her on her cattle operation as a newlywed!

Through her work on her farm, in her career, and in her community involvement, Anna remains an influential leader impacting natural resource conservation, shepherding in sustainable agriculture solutions, and making positive changes in Iowa.

Sheila Sheila Dotts Hebenstreit - Greene CountyDotts Hebenstreit – Jefferson, Greene County 

Sheila is an educator, mentor, speaker, and advocate. Among the many contributions Sheila has made to agriculture over the years, she’s helped hundreds of farmers achieve profitability while working to ensure soil and water conservation practices. She serves as a mentor to interns and young agronomists. She shares her vast agronomic knowledge and experiences by speaking at educational meetings and national conferences.

Among her many accomplishments, Sheila and a team of ISU extension staff traveled to Uganda to participate in a Farmer-to-Farmer and advised 180 Ugandan women farmers on soybean production and use, post-harvest crop handling, and record keeping. The project resulted in very noticeable improvements in the food availability, health and financial stability of the participating families. The Uganda trip was a long-time personal goal to “pay it forward.”

Cheryl and Cassie Johnson – Cushing, Woodbury County  Cheryl and Cassie Johnson - Woodbury County
Agriculture often teaches tough lessons – lessons none of us want to learn. Such was the case with Cheryl and Cassie Johnson. Following a tragic accident which took the life of Dan, Cheryl’s husband and Cassie’s father, Cheryl and Cassie were faced with some tough decisions. Would they be able to carry on the farming business, and did they want to?

Choosing to keep the family farm and transition the business, Cheryl and Cassie were faced with learning the entire farming business operation. They worked hard to educate themselves, and searched for help anywhere they could find it.

Through an Annie’s Project class offered in Cherokee County in 2013, both Cheryl and Cassie found a great resource in ISU Extension and Outreach. So with a little help from Annie’s Project and a lot of strength and courage, Cheryl and Cassie took over the reigns of a row crop farming operation, as well as Solutions Genetics, a red angus breeding stock business, and have continued running a successful farm business.

Amy Tlach  - Warren CountyAmy Tlach  - Indianola, Warren County
Amy has earned a reputation as a woman impacting agriculture. She believes in the agriculture of today and the promise and potential of the industry’s future and is a tireless advocate for agriculture.

With her husband, Barry, Amy owns Mid-Iowa Seeds where she lives the mission of improving customer yields and delivers top notch customer service.

As a past full-time employee and current contract employee of the Iowa Soybean Association, she works to expand opportunities for Iowa’s soybean farmers.

A Warren County Extension Council member, Amy has served her county for over 16 years, the last eight years as chairperson of the extension council. She was instrumental in passing the Warren County Extension and Outreach tax referendum in 2015.

As Warren County Fair Board Superintendent, Amy positively impacts the youth and general public in Warren County. And as a mother of two girls, Amy is a role model for young women who will be leaders of the next generation in agriculture.

 Learn more about the recipients of the 2017 Women Impacting Agriculture award at the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag website.

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