by Jill Vigesaa, NDFB Food, Land and People Coordinator
Just last week I was reminded about some of the early days of my working career. While I had dreams that my degree would land me a job doing some type of statistical research and analysis, as a newlywed who had recently moved to Carrington, N.D., such opportunities were quite limited indeed! This was before we even had computers in our homes, so “working remotely” was certainly NOT an option!
It wasn’t too long before I was able to land a job with the local soil conservation. I found myself immersed in a field of work I enjoyed, but it was largely dominated by males. In fact, I was the only female in the office. In those days, it was commonly assumed that a woman’s presence in an office would be limited to a “secretary” role, and in an agriculture related field, this inference may have been even more pronounced. I have always been one who is ready to tackle any job, so I jumped right in to learn as many aspects of conservation work as I could. I also discovered that working with the farmers and supporting agriculture was my passion!
I was faced with a particular challenge on more than one occasion, and we had some fun with it. If I was alone in the office (no males present), a farmer entering might look around the office and then say to me, “Nobody’s here today?” This was translated to mean, “No men are here today?” I understood they didn’t say this to be unkind or disrespectful, but I would joke with them and say, “Well, if I’m a nobody, I’m definitely here!” Later, some of my co-workers made a little “Nobody” name plaque and was a cute treasure I kept for many years. It wasn’t long before there were many women working in agriculture-related fields, who are well respected and dedicated members of the workforce.
During those days, I also loved to get outside each spring and join the tree planting work. In addition to staking the trees, I would often spend the day putting hundreds of little bare root trees, which looked like sticks, into the ground. It is rewarding to go back now and see the fruit of that labor, as the trees are now well established and a serve as a monument to hard work!
I’m thankful for all the opportunities that I have had to work in a career involving agriculture. Even if I started as a “nobody.”