As part of this year’s Female Farmer Profile Project, we are expanding this idea to include the many women who work to build an equitable, sustainable
High Country local food system.
This week, we’d like to give a warm welcome to Elina Snyder as we highlight cooperative extension agents as key players in our local food system. As a Caldwell County extension agent, Elina says the most satisfying part of her job is getting to continually learn as she relays information coming out of NC State’s agriculture research facilities to local farmers. She knew she wanted to pursue this role when she was working on a farm and watched the farm manager, who had advanced degrees in agriculture, make firm decisions rooted in science. With an appreciation for this and an intention to one day run her own farm, Elina decided to pursue an education that would both empower her to succeed in farming and enable her to pursue a career in Cooperative Extension. She graduated from Penn State University with a M.S in Agronomy. Her thesis work investigated ways to reduce herbicide use and manage weeds in crop production.
Extension agents are vital to the local food system for the significant role they play in creating connections. Elina connects growers to buyers, farms to resources, and people to information. Working on a farm clued her into the rhythms of farmers, gave her a thorough understanding of the demands of farming, and helped her understand the priorities of farmers which isn’t always adopting new research techniques.
Extension agent positions have historically been male dominated but there has since seen a big shift. A lot of extension work is building relationships, which can sometimes be challenging for women in this position. Sometimes clients are surprised and uneasy working with a woman, which can create challenges around trust building. Sometimes clients even ask for a second opinion from a male, but Elina says that she just keeps doing her job the best she can which sometimes may be connecting clients with other males if she feels this will best benefit them. “I can’t change people but I can continue to show them what I can offer in this role”
Patience, understanding, and a warm sincerity is what makes Elina so good at her job.
Thank you Elina for helping farmers bring us all the products we love!
BRWIA PROFILE PROJECT
Each month we do our best to profile a Woman in Agriculture in our region. These women are diverse - they have come from a variety of backgrounds and include farmers, homesteaders, and activists. They exemplify the multitude of ways women are working to connect with and change our food system.
Female Farmer Profile Project
The BRWIA Profiles evolved out of the Female Farmer Profiles which can be found archived HERE.