Jackie Dudgeon-MacDonald had to work in ag to realize she wanted to work in ag
By Diego Flammini
It took Jackie Dudgeon-MacDonald working in the ag industry to realize she wanted to work in the ag industry.
When she started at the University of Manitoba pursuing her ag diploma, her dad, Rob, got her a summer job at a local Viterra retailer. That experience helped develop her passion for the sector.
“It’s crazy to think that doing the grunt work of cleaning out a shop and blending fertilizer made me fall in love with ag,” she told Farms.com. “But it did. And it’s mostly because of the relationships. It always felt like family and it was a really uplifting place to be.”
Today, Dudgeon-MacDonald and her husband, Devon, raise beef at North Shade Cattle Co. near Moden, Man. They also help on Jackie’s father’s grain farm. And Jackie is a member of the board for the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.
As involved as she is in ag now, she didn’t want to be growing up.
Instead, her mind steered towards other career paths.
“I wanted to be a lawyer because lawyers made lots of money,” she said. “Then I thought I wanted to be an athletic therapist or physical therapist.”
One of the reasons she didn’t want to initially pursue ag, she says, is because she didn’t understand how complex the industry is.
She always saw her dad as “just a farmer who drives the combine.” It was during her second year of university she realized how involved agriculture is.
Looking back, she’d tell her younger self that he’s much more than that.
“I’d tell my 12-year-old self that he’s a business man and he takes on an enormous amount of risk,” she said. “And he does this because he is proud.”
Dudgeon-MacDonald is a mother of two – a son, Walker, and a daughter, Sloane.
Having young children means she’s thinking about what the industry may look like for them in the future.
Her message to young women entering the sector is to be confident in what you bring to the table.
“When I graduated university I was intimidated and nervous and didn’t know what to do,” she said. “The advice I wish that I would’ve gotten, that I want to share now is, trust yourself that you’re good enough as is and you don’t need to constantly prove yourself.”
When looking back at her journey in ag, Dudgeon-MacDonald points to two people she considers ag heroes.
One is Delaney Ross Burtnack, the executive director of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.
Burtnack’s hard work is what Dudgeon-MacDonald admires the most.
“I have huge admiration for her,” she said. “The work she does, the conversations she has and the way she thinks, it’s just incredible. If I could aspire to be her one day I would.”
The other is Allison Rasmussen, a chemical rep Dudgeon-MacDonald would see while working at Viterra.
“I remember seeing her and just thinking she had the coolest job, getting to speak with farmers and sell products,” she said. “I remember saying I wanted to have that job, and for a while I did.”
Leading up to International Women’s Day, Farms.com spoke with 11 female farmers from Canada and the U.S. about what they’d tell their 12-year-old selves about being a farmer, what they’d say to young women entering the ag industry, and who they consider to be an ag hero or inspiration.