Connecting women in agriculture for personal and professional development is a cornerstone of the Ag Women's Network. The Ag Women’s Network Mentorship Program provides a unique opportunity for women, from any sector of agriculture or career stage, to connect in a mentorship partnership.
Through the experience of mentorship, participants will build a relationship that is beneficial to both mentee and mentor. Together, they will set goals for mentee advancement. Mentees will develop skills while leading the mentorship journey. By sharing knowledge, experience and guidance, mentors will guide mentees to learn and acquire relevant skills. Both participants will finish with a wider network and more connections within the agriculture industry.
We are happy to acknowledge the support of Farm Credit Canada
Mentorship Partnerships 2019
Maggie McCormick's work combines her passion for agriculture, communication, education and research. Her career began in University of Guelph's OAC Dean's Office and continually evolved as the university established significant research programs and explored new avenues of engagement with agri-food industry and policy makers. She now manages communications at Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph as the communications coordinator.
Maggie studied international development at the University of Guelph and corporate communications and public relations at Fanshawe College. She is actively involved in Brant County 4-H as a leader and board member.
Samantha Fancher moved to Ontario about a year and a half ago from upstate New York and has had a fascinating and exciting journey to start her career in agriculture here. She has just started a new job working for a poultry health company. In the past, she has worked as a federal food inspector of beef products as well as a lab technician in the cattle genetics field. She studied at Cornell University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and then went on to the University of Connecticut to complete a Master’s degree in Animal Science, focusing on Food Science and Microbiology. She’s spent her life around animals of all kinds, with a particular interest in livestock. Right now she and her partner share their home with a cat and a dog, but they hope to add to that in the future.
Anneke Stickney was born and raised on a chicken farm however her education drove her away from the farm and led her on a different path. She attend the University of Guelph-Humber graduating in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration and a diploma in small business management. Her passion for business and numbers led her to a career in the banking industry, until she had an opportunity to return home. In 2012 she and her husband Corey made the decision to purchase the family farm. They jumped at the opportunity knowing this was a risk worth taking. Not only did their work environment change but their family changed too. They have welcomed 4 boys to their family. Her love for the farm goes beyond their land, when she is not working at home you will find her attending Agriculture education days teaching students about hens and eggs or delivering hard boiled eggs to local school snack programs.
Brittany Blakely's genuine interest in agriculture drove her to school for Agriculture Management Marketing at Olds College. She pursued crop inputs and tack store management in Alberta. Being back in Ontario and living in Grand Valley is a welcome change. Brittany enjoys her hobbies of horseback riding, hiking with her dogs, volunteering as well as fly fishing. She is looking forward to the AWN Mentorship Program and all the challenges and opportunities it presents.
Angela Straathof grew up on a dairy farm in the Ottawa Valley and was always interested in how soils contributed to healthy farming landscapes. She studied Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo, received a Masters in Land Resource Science from the University of Guelph, and completed a PhD in Soil Biology and Chemistry at the number one ranked agricultural research university in the world, Wageningen UR in The Netherlands. She went on to work as a research associate at the University of Manchester in the UK before returning to Ontario in 2018. Angela is now the Program Director at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, where she manages the team delivering cost-share opportunities to farmers across the province. She is passionate about soil health, environmental stewardship, applied research, and advocacy for representation of women in agriculture and science. She enjoys travelling around the world and cycling around Guelph.
Claire Ross is a 4th generation egg farmer and her children Rosslyn and Carson are the 5th. They work with her parents and two younger brothers along with her husband Ryan. They live on the family farm near Moorefield, Ontario. Claire and her family have cash crop, laying hens and raise free range, antibiotic free turkeys. Claire is a Councillor with Egg Farmers of Ontario and participated in the Canadian Young Farmers Forum. In addition to farming, Claire is a French Teacher with the Waterloo School Board and has a passion for bringing agriculture to the classroom. Her spring chick hatching in the school is a highlight of the season and she knows the importance of teaching her students where their food comes from. Claire is proud to produce excellent quality food for Canadian families and to work toward a sustainable future in agriculture.
Dan Wright is Head of Seeds, for Syngenta Canada. Prior to that he worked from 2000-2019 for Monsanto, then Bayer Crop Science in roles that included, Licensing Manager, Marketing Manager, and Canada Corn and Soybean Portfolio Lead. All of these roles have provided Dan with the opportunity to work with farmers and agriculture industry stakeholders in all regions of Canada.
Dan is a Past-President of the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) Board and a strong advocate for modern agriculture. He grew up in Lambton County in Ontario, where his family operated a cash crop farm, as well as a farm equipment dealership.
Community is important to Dan and together with his wife Marcia, and his son and daughter, they are very active members of their local community of Ayr, Ontario. In his time outside of work, Dan enjoys coaching kids and has served as president of girls' hockey and softball organizations. Dan recently completed his MBA through Royal Roads University in Victoria.
Sylvia Megens was born & raised on a beef cattle farm in Uxbridge, Ontario where she grew up showing cattle in the 4-H program with her two sisters. She still owns and raises beef cattle with her family, but now resides in Sunderland, Ontario with her husband, David, so they can be closer to his family's dairy farm. Sylvia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Guelph with a Major in Animal Science in 2015, which lead her to discover a passion for plant agriculture and pursue a career with DLF Pickseed Canada. She works out of Lindsay, Ontario as the Research Associate for DLF Pickseed Canada. She continues to be actively involved in 4-H as a volunteer leading the Vet Science Club and sitting on the Association’s Board of Directors as the Vice President of Durham West 4-H. She's also a member of the Durham West Junior Farmers club. In her spare time she can be found enjoying a game of frisbee with her dog Roxy, preparing show cattle for the fall fairs or spending time with her nieces & nephews.
Danielle Collins is a Policy Analyst with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, specializing in agriculture economic development. Danielle obtained a master’s degree in Local Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of Guelph. She obtained the Certified Economic Developer designation (Ec.D.) from the Economic Developers’ Association of Canada and is a proud member of the Economic Developers’ Council of Ontario.
Growing up in the Niagara Region, Danielle developed a passion for rural and agricultural communities. At OFA, she advocates to enhance economic viability and innovation in farming and the broader agri-food sector. In her spare time, Danielle can be found with her golden retriever on her boyfriend’s family farm in Rockwood, Ontario.
Kayla Walker graduated from the University of Guelph with a Master of Science in Epidemiology. She and her husband live in Guelph and are working toward building their Red and Black Angus herd. She is the Marketing and Genetic Development Assistant at Semex where she helps plan international tours, project manages the beef marketing and is heavily involved with the SemexSolutions and Internal Jersey Product Development. In her spare time she enjoys working on the farm, gardening, reading, and showing cattle.
Anne grew up on a small dairy operation in Grey County. She graduated with an Honours Diploma in Ag Business from Centralia College (University of Guelph) with a main focus on livestock. After a number of years of working in a few different dairy and livestock oriented jobs she started at Thompsons Limited in Logistics. Anne soon discovered that her career passion was in the Grain and Elevator Industry and she remains in that roll today as Senior Trader at Thompsons Limited. Anne has almost 30 years of experience in the Ag Industry and has held positions on a number of different committees including OABA Grain Section and Eastern Standards.
Anne is married to her college sweetheart Gord and has two children, Alex and Jessica.
Anita Speers grew up on a fruit, vegetable and cash crop operation in West Lorne. She attended the University of Guelph, where she studied Agricultural Economics. Anita has been very involved with her local community as a fair ambassador, Queen of the Furrow for Elgin County and Ontario Queen of the Furrow. Currently, she works for Lakeside Grain & Feed as a Crop Input Representative. She now lives in Strathroy with her husband Scott. On most weekends, she can be found on the farm helping her family, on a hiking trail of some sort or planning her next adventure to a new country.
Joanne Hewitson has always been passionate about connecting farmers, consumers and companies in order to advance agriculture and help farmers succeed. Today, she has the amazing opportunity to work with farmers around the world as part of the Digital Marketing team for the recently created Corteva Agriscience.
Growing up on a dairy farm near Owen Sound, she was active in 4-H, Junior Farmers and the Dairy Princess program. After graduating from the University of Guelph, she worked for the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and Ginty Jocius & associates before joining DuPont Crop Protection to lead Marketing Communications and then Digital Marketing teams in Canada, North America and globally.
Joanne and her husband Sean live in Milton and are embarking on their latest adventure to successfully raise two fantastic teenagers and one brand new puppy. She is a 4-H leader and board member and loves to travel as often as possible and Zumba whenever she can.
Lynsay Beavers grew up outside of Dorchester, Ontario in Middlesex county. She spent the majority of her childhood on the farm, actively involved in 4-H. Her interest in agriculture led her to pursue a degree at the University of Guelph, and after, a Masters of Science with a focus on Dairy Health Management and Genetics from the Ontario Veterinary College. Upon graduation, Lynsay spent three years in Calgary working as a Marketing and Communications Specialist with a dairy genetics company. A job as the Industry Liaison at the Canadian Dairy Network brought Lynsay back home to Ontario in 2013. She currently resides in Guelph with her husband Matt, son Brooks and has a second baby on the way in early May 2019. In her role at CDN, Lynsay extends information about genomics and genetic evaluation systems to Canadian dairy producers and industry personnel through a variety of communication channels.
Patty Townsend spent her entire career in agriculture. Since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture in 1980 she has served the industry in many different roles. She was the first female ROP dairy inspector in Western Canada and the first female agriculture reporter in Canada. She helped to form the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association and was its first Executive Director and, at the same time, was an Extension Specialist with the University of Saskatchewan. She was Communications Manager for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture; Manager of Government Relations with Prairie Pools; Executive Director of the Agriculture Institute of Canada; Executive Director of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, and was the CEO of the Canadian Seed Trade Association. She has been active in international organizations as well, initiating and coordinating the Global Alliance for Liberalized Trade in Food and Agriculture and contributing to the Seed Association of the Americas and the International Seed Federation. She is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for her work in Agriculture and Trade. Recently retired, Patty now works with her family at their equestrian facility west of Ottawa and teaches Therapeutic Riding for children and adults with disabilities.
Kayla Veldman was raised on a poultry and grain farm near Embro, ON. She followed her love of agriculture to the University of Guelph where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in crop science. She currently work as an agronomist for Van Roessel Farms. She enjoys traveling and exploring agriculture in different parts of the world. In the future she hopes to take part in the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. She also enjoys spending time as a 4H leader and private pilot.
AWN Mentorship Program
Mentorship Program Expectations
Every mentoring relationship is different and there is no single formula for success.
However, the essential elements of any mentorship are – respect, clarity, trust and commitment. The following expectations are provided to help both participants of the mentorship to get more out of the relationship and create the conditions for mutual success. (CAHRC -Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council)
Expectations of Mentees
Dedicate to the 8 month timeline of the AWN Mentorship Program
Take the lead in the mentoring relationship
Connect with your mentor regularly in a manner that is agreeable to both of you – online, in-person
Discuss a schedule for your interactions with your mentor that is agreeable to and manageable for both of you (including number of hours/month)
Share your goals for the mentoring relationship with your mentor
Discuss and complete a road map to achieve your goals with your mentor
Maintain strict confidentiality when it comes to anything your mentor shares with you
Be open to new ideas and expand your comfort zone
Value the mentor’s time, expertise and experience
Strive to develop a rapport with your mentor that gives you the confidence to initiate discussion on a variety of related topics and to seek out clarifications and suggestions from your mentor
Submit a completed road map
Complete an evaluation form to assist with future planning and development of the AWN Mentorship Program
Complete a “give back” project that will benefit the AWN community and/or the agricultural community i.e. a blog post about your mentorship experience, assisting with an AWN online event, working with your mentor at an agricultural event
Contact the AWN Mentorship Program Action Team if you have any concerns or question
Expectations of Mentors
Dedicate to the 8 month timeline of the AWN Mentorship Program
Support your mentee’s efforts to take the lead in the mentoring relationship
Connect with your mentee regularly in a manner that is agreeable to both of you – online, in person
Discuss a schedule for your interactions with your mentee that is agreeable to and manageable for both of you (including number of hours/month)
Assist your mentee to identify and clarify her goals for the mentoring relationship
Provide insight and feedback for your mentee as she completes a road map to achieve her goals
Maintain strict confidentiality when it comes to anything your mentee shares with you
Encourage your mentee to try new approaches and expand her comfort zone
Share resources and be open to introduce your mentee to your networks
Listen openly and respectfully to topics your mentee brings up during conversation
Review the road map that has been completed by your mentee
Complete an evaluation form to assist with future planning & development of the AWN Mentorship Program
Contact the AWN Mentorship Program Action Team if you have any concerns or questions
Want to know more about the Ag Women's Network Mentorship Program?
We're glad you asked!
What are the key objectives of the mentorship program?
The program aims to:
Celebrate the diversity of sectors, roles, and experiences of women in agriculture.
Build authentic relationships and support upward mentorship.
Be responsive to our grassroots membership and adaptable for future growth.
Promote the values of camaraderie, inclusion, accessibility, connection, confidentiality and constructive dialogue.
What do mentorships focus on?
AWN mentees work with their mentors to establish key areas of interest that the mentee has. These items are outlined in a road map document template provided by AWN. The intent of the road map is to assist with goal-setting.
Who is eligible to apply to the program?
Applications for mentees are open to AWN members in Ontario who are eighteen years of age or older. Applications for mentors are open to women and men who are involved in the agriculture industry in Ontario and are eighteen years of age or older.
AWN sees potential for the program to grow in the future and we are considering how we can sustain success when offering a program beyond Ontari0.
How do mentees and mentors get matched for their mentorship partnerships?
Mentee selections, by a committee of community leaders, will be based on submitted applications. The AWN Mentorship Team Leads and Leadership Team members are not involved in the selections. Following the selection of 10 mentees, the Mentorship Team Leads begin the process of reviewing mentor applications with the goal of creating the most mutually successful mentor-mentee partnerships. Both mentors and mentees are contacted prior to partnership decisions.
What is the time commitment to be a participant?
The self-led program will allow participants to create a flexible experience. Mentors will commit to activities within a predetermined period of time to help mentees work through their road map. Mentees must have the determination to make the most out of their experience. In order to complete the program, mentees must be open to sharing their mentorship experience through AWN communications.
Is there funding available?
At this time, there is no funding available to aid in the mentorship experience. The AWN provides the opportunity and non-monetary resources to help mentees succeed. The program is self-led. There will be no fee to mentors or mentees to participate in the Special Events.
Please send your inquiries to -
Joan Craig (Chair) and Amanda Peer – AWN Mentorship Program Team Leads
Congratulations to our
2018 pilot year participants!
"This mentorship gave me the opportunity to discuss my career goals with someone outside of my work circle who would understand the challenges and the rewards of my career. Your career is a story book and each chapter develops you both professionally and personally. But it’s about balance and priorities. My mentor appreciated my busy schedule but encouraged me to take time to reflect and relax."
- Phyllis McCallum (mentee)
"The experience gave me more confidence that I can help young women in the industry and I have something of value to offer. As I'm quite young myself in my career I was worried I wouldn't be very helpful but I think I was able to help in a few key ways." - Claire Cowan (mentor)
"If you have the chance to be in the Ag Women’s Network Mentorship program I would highly suggest it. The opportunities from the program opened my eyes to possible careers in the agriculture industry that I didn't know existed." - Madison Cherwoniak (mentee)