This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Passion can be found from coast to coast in the agriculture industry. It is the driving force in which enables farmers to grow rich high yielding crops, ranchers to take care of their herds, people working in the Agri-food industry to get these products to market, parents to raise strong, healthy families and it helps build our communities which allows for food to be produced and delivered to an ever growing population. That brand of passion is in high concentration at the Advancing Women Conference in Calgary this week.

Nearly 600 women from across Canada have gathered in the city for a two day conference looking to sharpen their leadership skills, network and hear from a number of speakers about how they can achieve success in their lives.

A common characteristic that all of them may have in common is the drive to succeed, which bodes well for the agriculture industry in which most find their passion.

Trish Jordan, the Public and Industry Affairs Director at Monsanto Canada in Winnipeg, tells Rural Roots Canada her passion is talking and networking with people in the industry, primarily farmers.

“I’ve worked with farmers all my life,” says Jordan. “Farmers are just so committed to what they do on the farm, they are committed to their communities, they are committed to their families, and really they are committed to growing food, for a hungry world, that’s really inspired me.”

Deborah Wilson, who is also attending the conference, says her passion comes from those closest to her.

“My family, I have 5 children, I have 9.5 soon to be 10 grandchildren and 6 of those grandchildren are being raised on the farm working in the cattle industry their parents running cattle and growing crops,” says Wilson. “I see a huge mix, I would like to see my children able to raise their children the way that they were raised with social license to operate the way they need to operate to be sustainable and viable.”

The Senior Vice President of BIXS says it is also important to her that her kids who didn’t stay on the farm carry on the tradition in a different manner.

“I would like my children who live in the city to carry on the tradition of explaining where their food comes from and how hard we work to provide a safe, sustainable food supply in Canada so that’s what makes me passionate.”

Kate Sanford Mitchell wears two hats, one as a farmer and another as Oilseed Crops Herbicide and Insecticides Portfolio Manager with Bayer CropScience Canada.

Her passion flows from the soil beneath her feet.

“What I’m really passionate about is being able to grow sustainable crops here in western Canada and help feed the world. This is one of the things we do really well. We’re a country that is abundant in resources, we have many arable acres across Canada and we’re in an economy that promotes trade across the world and we produce excellent crops.”

She points to conferences like this one, which fuels that passion further.

“And that fact that we are here together in a forum with women from across the industry that help everyone within the industry connect and get to the point, where they can be the best they can in order to facilitate this is what really drives me.”

For consultant Annemarie Pedersen, who operates her own business, her drive comes from informing consumers, who according to studies are now three to five generations removed from the farm.

“What keeps me up at night and what keeps me going is trying to get strong advocacy and ambassador from our agriculture sector here in Alberta and Canada. And getting out the message what great things are happening,” says Pedersen adding, “I think farmers and ranchers they are the stewards of the land and they take a great deal of pride in the quality of their output whether it’s beef or wheat or canola.”

The conference wraps up Tuesday afternoon.