Sharing FarmHer Stories
“Everyone tells you to turn your passion into a job,” says Lexi Marek. “That’s just what I learned this summer from Marji at FarmHer– how to turn my passion into a business. Along the way I also did something I love, which is to promote agriculture.”
Marji Guyler-Alaniz started FarmHer to engage and inform young women who wanted to pursue agriculture as a career. She shares the story of women in agriculture through her photographs, but supports the business through a branded clothing line.
“One of the great things about Lexi is that she farms and she has an instant connection with the women we photograph,” Guyler-Alaniz says. “I’ve always done this myself, but she’s been one of the best things that’s happened to FarmHer.”
Marek, a junior in agriculture and society, spent the summer interning with FarmHer. She helped coordinate social media, website design, the newsletter and the 2016 calendar. Most of the summer she worked from her family farm near
Riverside, Iowa, but in August she and Guyler-Alaniz traveled to a conference in Oklahoma. On the way they stopped to shoot a few FarmHer photo sessions.
“On one photo shoot we were outside working with cattle and a storm rolled in. The sky turned navy blue, we grabbed our cameras, ran for the barn and took photos from the hayloft,” Marek says.
“It was an intense storm and we were out in the open,” Guyler-Alaniz says. “I think I was more frightened than Lexi because I’m never outside in that kind of weather.”
At the start of her internship Marek was thinking of ways to reach out to women and promote agriculture. In June, Marek came up with an idea to have a GROW FarmHer Conference in Iowa for young women. It was similar to a conference she heard about in Illinois where FarmHer already has a presence.
She received funding through a 4-H scholarship and started planning the GROW FarmHer conference, which was held Nov. 13 in Ankeny.
“My goal for the conference is to expand into other states and reach many, many more future FarmHers,” Marek says.
Carly Cummings (’11 agricultural business), program coordinator for the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, has worked with Marek in several capacities. She says Marek is a powerhouse of energy and involved in several clubs and activities.
“She is always willing to help and she has made the ISU National AgriMarketing Team a great place for students to learn and grow,” Cummings says.
Helping women understand the numerous opportunities in agriculture is what Cummings says is important about the conference and FarmHer. Cummings says she’s enjoyed working with Marek and encourages other alums to become mentors.
“I enjoyed mentoring and learning from Lexi,” Cummings says. “It’s extremely rewarding to watch students grow as individuals and as a professionals.”
Marek grew up on a sixth generation family farm, where she began showing pigs at five years old. She describes herself as an advocate for agriculture and it’s evident in everything she takes on.
Since she came to Iowa State she’s been involved with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassadors, National Agri-Marketing Team, Block and Bridle,
Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow, National Junior Swine Association board member, Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, Alpha Zeta Honor Society and co-chaired the 2015 Iowa State Bacon Expo.
Last year Marek organized the ISU Block and Bridle Club Hunger Fight held in the ISU Kildee Hall Farm Bureau Pavilion. More than 370 volunteers packaged more than 60,000 Meals from the Heartland packets in four hours.
After graduation Marek hopes to attend graduate school and focus on communications. She says she will be looking for opportunities to promote and grow the conference she put together this year.
She will always be looking for ways to encourage young women to pursue agricultural careers and be an advocate for agriculture.