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Women In Ag: Andrea Schwartz


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Photo courtesy of Andrea Schwartz

Andrea Schwartz grew up on a farm in Northwestern Indiana. She’s a local leader working to further agricultural process. She’s also a wife, mother, and educator living on a small family farm in Carroll county. Agriculture is, and always has been, a huge part of her life.

Andrea is a local leader working to further agricultural progress. She’s the Dean of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, & Applied Science at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette. She holds a Master of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education from Purdue University and has nearly 15 years of experience as an agricultural educator.  Andrea was recently recognized by Purdue University as a Distinguished Alumni.

Here at Landvalues, we were fortunate enough to tune into  the Ag+Bio+Science podcast to hear Andrea discuss Ivy Tech’s partnership with Purdue University and educating the youth of Indiana in agbioscience. Within this podcast, the benefits, challenges, and future of the Agricultural program at Ivy Tech were discussed.

Technology moves quickly and agricultural companies are always seeking new ways to improve production. Ivy Tech strives to stay current on technological advances and communicates regularly with agriculture industry leaders to identify their needs. By staying abreast of the latest innovations and maintaining communication with local companies, Ivy Tech is able to adapt the curriculum as needed. Their goal is to educate and train students relevantly and ensure success within agricultural careers.  

Recently, the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network allocated a $900,000 grant to Indiana West Advantage with Ivy Tech as a contributing partner – which made implementation of a new precision agriculture program possible.

“…we really try to look at the changes coming down the road in five to ten years and develop new programs. The precision ag program is one in particular that we are looking forward in how we can train. The same is true in the manufacturing space. We’re looking at digital manufacturing and industry 4.0 and how we can better adapt our curriculum to those needs.”

Ivy Tech Community College is also partnered with Purdue for various degree programs. Arguably, the most lauded of these is the Pathway to Purdue Agricultural Program. This program allows students to co-enroll at both schools simultaneously and lessens the financial burden of higher education. Ivy tech boasts smaller class sizes, more instructor attention, and lower costs of attendance while Purdue offers a traditional university experience and access to one of the top agricultural programs in the country. The program boasts great success with transfer & graduation rates as well as networking opportunities for future employment of students. Overall, the Pathway to Purdue program is looked upon as a model to other institutions nationwide.  

“We’re really excited for the next ten years of this program and to see how much growth we can have in the agbiosciences because of it.”

Indiana is positioned as an excellent location for agricultural education due to the state’s strong connection to industry with the ability to foster and grow companies within the agbioscience sphere. This enables students to connect with companies in the community to foster relationships and create employment opportunities in the form of internships that lead into careers.

“Agbiosciences is intriguing. It’s attractive. We really want to keep those students within our border as well as drawn in students from across the country and across the world to Indiana for that industry….we can show students those opportunities by connecting them early to those industry partners to show them they have access to a world class education, world class research, world class companies in that technological innovation space while staying in hometown communities. They can have a rewarding career in agbiosciences.”

Photo Courtesy of Andrea Schwartz

We were also interested about Andrea’s thoughts on the future of women in agriculture. So, we asked.

What do you see on the horizon for the future of women in agriculture?

“I see women taking more leadership roles and having a seat at the decision-making table in the future.”

What tips do you have for females hoping to enter agriculture?

“My biggest tip for females hoping to enter the field of agriculture is to suspend all fear, and just go! Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, don’t worry, just do it.”

#farmher #womeninagribusiness #thefutureofag #missagriculture

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Shelley Swearingen



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