Moving women up the business ladder and making their contributions more visible in the workplace while also raising agriculture’s profile as a career choice are among areas of special interest for the newest 4-H Canada scholarship winner.
Sara Kate Smith, a member of the Yellowhead 4-H Club at Barriere, B.C., was one of four young people receiving the 4-H Canada Leadership Awards of Distinction. It includes a $20,000 scholarship for post-secondary education and a year-long mentorship.
Smith won in the community engagement and communications section and hopes to be paired with a woman working in business and communications starting in February.
“I think women have to work twice as hard to get recognized for the same thing,” said Smith.
“It’s hard to get into or it’s put aside as a team effort and whoever the team lead is gets the credit and often times that is a man.”
She is currently enrolled in political studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and plans to add a master’s degree in management in the future.
Smith said she’s part of a generation interested in equality and wage parity.
“I think it’s a slow process, but we’re definitely getting closer. But I look forward to being a part of that and making my own name for myself, just as well as a man, said Smith, who hopes to make small business consulting and communications her career one day.
She grew up in a 4-H family, participated in sheep projects and is currently a 4-H provincial ambassador.
She organized a provincial 4-H communications and professional development conference to improve skills in public speaking, resume writing and job interviews. Smith also led a session on developing adult and youth partnerships at the Global 4-H Network Summit in Ottawa in July.
She would like to see agriculture’s profile raised up alongside engineering and medicine in high schools through farm visits and career days, citing the diversity of jobs available within the field from veterinary medicine to communications to management.
“Interest in agriculture is dwindling,” she said, citing farm succession and keeping farms in the family as current challenges.
It’s also a hard area to draw people to who don’t have a rural or farm connection, she added.
“When provided the right information, resources, there are definitely opportunities to grow the field,” she said, citing how 4-H can play a role in ag education.
Other LEAD scholarship winners were Evan Krebs and Sadie-Jane Hickson of Ontario and Thian Carmen of Nova Scotia.