By Madeline Schultz | December 8, 2022
Bridget Mahoney is a 2022 Women Impacting Agriculture Honoree. She is an agriculture teacher, FFA Advisor, and operates Walridge Cattle Farm in Iowa County.
Bridget is a powerhouse in the FFA and teaching world, impacting thousands of students, educators, and agricultural community members annually. She taught ten years at Lone Tree High School and is in her second year at Williamsburg High School where she is revitalizing the Williamsburg FFA Chapter.
While FFA advisor at Lone Tree, Bridget’s students won a National Chapter Award (Gold) and advanced to nationals in 2020 and 2021. Among her many accolades, Bridget received the Iowa Governor's Scholarship Recipients Most Influential Teacher and a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Distinguished Teacher award.
As an agricultural educator, she teaches students how to manage risk and plan for their future through a nationally recognized Agriculture Business and Agronomy curriculum, manages a test plot with local agricultural businesses, and facilitates a premier work-based learning program in the form of supervised agricultural experiences. She implemented two concurrent enrollment courses with Kirkwood Community College for students. Bridget sees her ability to get all students involved in the community, even if they are not sure about participating, as one of her greatest accomplishments. This has a multiplying effect because she has changed these students' lives and they now see the value in giving back.
After attending Laila Hajji Down's teambuilding session on Tuesday evening of the conference, Bridget shared, "The 'Q's' are just as important as any other letter in the alphabet in the agriculture industry."
At Iowa State University, Bridget earned a BS in Animal Science and a BS in Agricultural Education – Communications. She led the Science with Practice program while earning her MS in Agricultural Education and is currently serving on the Advisory Committee for Ag Ed Pre-Service Teachers.
Bridget founded and leads the Mentoring Program in Iowa for agriculture teachers. This program has an impact on the profession as several agriculture teachers remark this mentoring program is why they continue to teach in what can be a stressful environment. Her role includes hosting conferences, monthly Zoom calls, pairing new teachers with mentors, and planning special events to encourage retention.
From designing marketing pieces to creating solutions for her beef customers, Bridget has an entrepreneurial spirit that is unmatched. She is constantly innovating and adapting to serve her community and honor the legacy of her family’s farm. Bridget is focused on raising the best Angus seedstock and beef that she can. She is proud of being named the Seedstock Producer of the Year and seeing youth be successful with their beef projects.
Bridget saw an opportunity during the pandemic to help people access affordable and high-quality beef products. She worked with customers to buy animals from Walridge Farms and find lockers to harvest the beef. This helped families access a high protein product during a time of scarcity and helped insulate her farm from the increasing cost of production. Other points of innovation include the use of cover crops, no-till, water and sediment control basins, and grass waterways as Bridget and her family raise crops for their cattle. Bridget developed pollinator habitat and raises 13 beehives. This helps with pollination of native plants and diversifies the farm with honey sales. Bridget stated her proudest achievement is raising her daughter, Anastasia, on the same Century Farm that she grew up on.