Celebrating Women’s History Month at AgBiome
In honor of Women’s History Month, several women at AgBiome have come together to highlight the important role of women in agriculture and STEM careers, past, present and future. In this two-part series, they share their career perspectives, the women who inspire them, and what they want other women to know about pursuing their goals.
Agriculture innovation starts here
AgBiome aims to become a global leader in agricultural innovation, enhancing global food production to feed the world responsibly. While we endeavor to improve the world through microbial solutions, we recognize that only through outstanding teams with diverse perspectives will this be made possible.
“To celebrate diversity starts by acknowledging that diversity is critical for a high- functioning company,” said Dr. Toni Bucci, chief operating officer at AgBiome.
“It's important when you're solving big issues like feeding the world and having sustainable crop protection to have diversity of thought,” said Dr. Tracy Raines, chief innovation officer at AgBiome. “That means different backgrounds, ethnicities and genders come together to provide different perspectives in all areas of AgBiome.”
Innovation through collaboration
At AgBiome, individuals from every department are encouraged to collaborate with people from areas outside of their own to share ideas and bring new thoughts to the table.
“I love that we have the opportunity to try new things here,” said Amber Smith, product development project manager at AgBiome. When she has a few free minutes at the office, Smith enjoys leaving her workspace and popping into the lab to see what AgBiome’s scientists are working on.
“We have the ability to see or meet with anyone at any time, regardless of what job duties they have,” said Kenkesha Clark Staten, AgBiome’s payroll and benefits manager and founder of the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
Women inspiring women
The women of AgBiome also shared their gratitude toward the female role models who have supported them on their journeys. Mothers top the list of women who have encouraged them to pursue their dreams and passions.
Raines recalled her mother’s persistence in pursuing her own schooling with small children at home as the inspiration for her to go back to school and obtain her doctorate after having two children of her own.
“I can still remember her studying, being tired and just really pushing through it to get her teaching degree,” said Raines. “I think it really made a huge impact on me to see someone that strong and really committed to getting her higher education.”
“The satisfaction in my mother’s eyes, and the breadth of knowledge that she holds, inspires me daily to do my job to the best of my ability and to extend myself to help others,” said Clark Staten.
Moms have not been the only inspiration in these women’s lives. Smith remembers two special women she encountered as a graduate student, an advisor and an instructor in her department, who helped her pave her path.
“They both really helped me find exactly what it was I wanted to do and figure out how to do it,” said Smith.
Women in STEM yesterday and today
Women continue to make gains in STEM-related fields, making up 27% of the STEM workforce in 2019, up substantially from only 7% in 1970 (U.S. Census Bureau).
Laura Potter, data science lead at AgBiome, is inspired by the curiosity and persistence of the women who came before her in her field.
“Curiosity drives continual growth, learning, excitement, and forward momentum,” said Potter, “while persistence keeps you going even as you face challenges and obstacles.”
Bucci noted the importance of acknowledging the contributions of women in STEM who became role models for little girls all over the world including Marie Curie, Mae Jemison and Jennifer Doudna.
“These women humbly, and sometimes quietly, showed that success is possible, thereby inspiring millions of aspirational girls,” said Bucci.
This group also shared some hard-earned secrets to success, underlining that “having it all” looks different for everyone and comes down to loving your work.
“Whether it's in science or in another area, you really just have to love what you’re doing,” said Raines.
Smith echoed this sentiment stating, “You don’t have to have it all figured out; life is too short not to do what makes you happy.”
Bucci wants women who are balancing family and their careers to know that they’re doing a great job while setting an example for the next generation.
“If you choose to work and have a family, shrug off the feelings of guilt or inadequacy,” said Bucci. “You set a positive example to your children whether you realize it or not.”
“You have a truly unique perspective based on your own experience and knowledge; don't be afraid to speak up,” said Potter.
The inspiring women at AgBiome are dedicated to helping others achieve their goals. Whether it be within their company or others in their lives, they strive to mentor, inspire and generate positive impacts on those around them.
“My women ancestors paved a path of resiliency with strength and willpower,” said Clark Staten. “I stand on their shoulders daily as I forge a path for my daughters, granddaughter, nieces and others connected to me so they can see, follow and visualize their own paths of greatness.”
“I am extremely energized by helping develop the next generation of leaders and scientists,” said Potter.
“Most importantly, I would like to know that I inspired other women to chase their dreams and be the reason for their own success,” said Bucci.