Today in the Pride in Agriculture series, we’ll hear from one half of the duo behind the Diversity Imperative podcast that explores conversations surrounding the potential of diversity in agriculture.

Hannah Konschuh (she/her) is a grain farmer from Cluny, Alberta, Canada, and shares her views as an ally in agriculture today. I had the pleasure of connecting with Hannah and her co-host, Erin Gowriluk, on their podcast last fall to discuss my views on diversity and inclusion in agriculture communities. Give it a listen if you haven’t already. You can find Hannah at @diversityinag on Twitter, and @diversityimperative on Instagram and Facebook.

hannah konschuh erin gowriluk diversity imperative podcast
Erin (left) and Hannah (right), hosts of the Diversity Imperative Podcast

How are you involved in the agriculture community?

Hi, I’m Hannah Konschuh! I own and operate a grain farm in Southern Alberta Canada, and while I come from a long line of farmers on both sides of my family, I didn’t make the decision to become a full-time farmer until later in life, after starting a career off-farm. The opportunities that come with owning and operating a primary agriculture business brought me back, and the great privilege I had to farm with my family was also a big part of that.

My podcast co-host and friend Erin Gowriluk, who is the Executive Director of the Grains Growers of Canada, based out of Ottawa Ontario, also made the decision to join the sector after working in a different industry for an extended time. Again, opportunities brimmed for Erin as a policy guru and strategic thinker and she quickly found her home, applying her love of policy to the agriculture sector. While Erin didn’t have a direct connection to primary agriculture, she quickly made her mark on our industry and found her “home” here.

We had the good fortune of being colleagues for a short time, and our shared passion for discussions on leadership made us fast friends. Fast forward a few years and we now have the great privilege of hosting a podcast called The Diversity Imperative, which aims to unearth the Agriculture sector’s potential when it comes to people, who we like to say is our industry’s greatest resource.

Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?

I’m proud to be a part of an innovative sector that drives our economy and grows food that nourishes people all over the world. A recent challenging event for my farm has made me so grateful for neighbors and friends and industry colleagues near and far that will mobilize to help others in times of need.

Hannah Konschuh pride in agriculture

How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ people in agriculture and rural communities?

I’m grateful for organizations that I’ve seen enthusiastically and proudly celebrate Pride in the agriculture sector, including AFSC here in Alberta and Syngenta Canada.

Similarly, when we’ve had conversations with folks who identify as LGBTQ+ from the agriculture sector on the podcast, each sharing candidly and openly about their experiences, so many listeners show their appreciation for those voices and for those conversations! It’s amazing to see. We know these moments of connection have such a powerful effect on us as hosts and all people in our sector who tune in. To hear about someone’s lived experience is a really powerful thing and has a real ripple effect beyond those who listen firsthand.

We feel forever changed by some of the things we’ve learned from our guests. There are so many moments that move us, but one in particular that we often reference is our conversation with Julia Romagnoli, an LGBTQ+ leader in the agriculture sector, System Specialist with John Deere here in Canada, and creator of the Pride in Ag Instagram account. She candidly shared that she felt strongly that she needed to be authentically herself for the benefit of others and this motivated her onward.

Recently, a well-known colleague in our sector shared that they were LGBTQ+ publicly and the outpouring of support, acceptance, and celebration for that person was tremendous.

Unfortunately, in contrast, we’ve seen the opposite of this support rear its ugly head, and this was our motivation for starting the Diversity Imperative podcast. It’s the pushback that confirms for us that Pride is necessary and conversations about diversity are vital.

Hannah Konschuh pride in agriculture

How do you consider yourself an ally?

A goal of the Diversity Imperative is to elevate, share and learn from voices that we don’t hear often enough. Thinking thoughtfully about each conversation we host is really important to us as allies. We want to listen to understand, not to respond, which is a really challenging thing these days with the perceived pressure that we as ‘leaders’ need to know the answer to everything.

We are continuously learning how to be allies, and part of that is the willingness to be uncomfortable in that learning. Progress in building more inclusive communities and cultures won’t come from easy, comfortable conversations. It’s been a great privilege to get to connect with folks in our sector this way and a privilege to be considered an ally.

What has the Diversity Imperative podcast taught you about being an ally to LGBTQ+ people?

Here are a few ideas on how we can be stronger allies of LGBTQ+ people in agriculture and rural communities!

Check out your feeds! Do you follow LGBTQ+ farmers or professionals in the agriculture sector? If you’re reading this blog, you probably do, but it’s worth doing a “check-in” on this. Pay attention to what matters to them and their advocacy.

Enjoy and get involved in the celebrations of Pride, but commit to being just as motivated and enthusiastic when it comes to having hard conversations and influencing needed change when June is over.

Do some individual learning – find blogs, articles, and podcasts that expand your knowledge and understanding of the lived experience of identifying as LGBTQ+ in the agriculture sector and beyond.

Impact matters more than intention. Consider your own actions and words and the impact they may have – “harmless jokes” are not harmless and you never know who’s listening. Stuart Chutter, an LGBTQ+ farmer from Saskatchewan Canada recently shared how he thinks about language and impact.

Consider learning/practicing how to disrupt bias in your daily life. And learn how to be open to feedback about your own actions if someone gives you critical or constructive feedback about your allyship. We look to our colleague Claire Cowan, who recently joined us on the podcast to talk about the importance of understanding your own sphere of influence and how to receive critical feedback because we’re all learning.

Sponsor LGTBQ+ leaders in your life. Support LGBTQ+ farmers and agri-professionals for leadership positions on Boards of Directors, or other positions of leadership they are pursuing.

Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?

Erin and I want to thank you for your leadership, Ryan! May the energy we feel and gain during Pride carry us through to the times when we need to embark on hard conversations around inclusion.

The Pride in Agriculture series highlights voices from LGBTQ+ people and allies in agriculture to feature the diversity and leadership within our industry who work to make our community a better place for everyone. To have your LGBTQ+ or Ally story featured, contact Ryan Goodman here.

Consider making a contribution this month to the Cultivating Change Foundation, whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ+ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community.

Want to receive updates on future posts from Beef Runner in your inbox? Click here to subscribe. Want to show you support for my continued work in agriculture advocacy? Find me on Vemno.

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