What the changing face of agriculture means for farmers and our communities

They live in different provinces, yet university students Leslee Leischner and Morgan Passmore belong to a growing community in Canada—a generation of females looking to revolutionize the agriculture industry during a particularly crucial time.

As recent recipients of the 2019 TD 4-H Agriculture Scholarship (an award granted to students pursuing a post-secondary education in the field of agriculture), Leischner and Passmore are part of an increasing trend that is seeing more women involved in farming and the agriculture industry.  According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture[i], over the past 20 years, female enrollment for farm operators aged 40 years and under courses focused has increased.

Leischner and Passmore say their current individual studies both look at how to tackle a larger problem—how the agriculture industry will have to change in order to sustainably support and feed the world's growing population, which is projected by the United Nations to increase to 9.7 billion people in 2050[ii]. Through their education and experience, both women are looking past their graduation date and ahead at how their careers can make a positive impact.

"Through genetic research, my goal is to become a resource to farmers on how to help increase crop yields in a way that is viable for our environment and communities," said Leischner, who was inspired to pursue a degree in sustainable agriculture at the University of Alberta after her own upbringing on her family farm exposed her to some of the struggles and successes of farming. 

READ: How one banker is joining the growing number of women changing the agriculture industry

Passmore, who is currently studying Farm Management and Technology at Macdonald College of McGill University in Quebec, says it's important that farmers are given access to innovative technology that will enable them to be more efficient, while increasing production.

"It's different for the new generation of farmers because they've grown up with constant advancements in automation and technology compared to past generations," said Passmore. "Farmers are now using phone apps to determine which daily tasks have been taken care of, allowing their farms to become increasingly resourceful. It's developments like these that aim to create successful changes in the industry that support not only our local communities, but those around the world as well."  

The TD 4-H Agriculture Scholarship is an annual scholarship offering up to 12 recipients the opportunity to be awarded $2,500 each. Every year, 4-H Canada partners with businesses to offer scholarships to 4-H youth pursuing post-secondary studies within agriculture. Interested in applying for a scholarship? 4-H will be accepting applications starting March 1, 2020. To learn more about the TD and 4-H Scholarship, visit their website.


[i] 2016 Census of Agriculture
[ii] The World Population Prospects 2019 report