Where Are They Now? This WIA Student Scholar - Bridget Silvernail - Weighs In
By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Women in Agribusiness Media (April 26, 2022)
Let former recipient Bridget Silvernail, who attended the Summit back in 2014 in New Orleans, tell you as she answers our Q&A series questions.
1). Please tell us more about the Women in Agribusiness Summit you attended, and how you came to learn about it and get involved in the organization.
I attended the WIA Summit in 2014 in New Orleans. I was able to attend through Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) sponsorship. My family had a dairy farm and belonged to DFA.
Through DFA, and their talented staff in the Midwest, I was able to secure leadership development opportunities to help shape me into the young professional I am today. Jackie Klippenstein, who works for DFA, was a fundamental part in supporting me and guiding me in my college years at Michigan State University.
2). What connections did you make from that participation, and how did it help shape your career goals and path?
It was so encouraging to see so many successful women chasing their dreams and aspirations within the ag industry. It was the first time that I think I truly understood the wide variety of jobs available within the ag industry that I could do, and be.
3). What is the top skill or benefit you walked away with from the Summit?
I remember being able to get my first professional headshot taken, and that made me so excited! It sounds silly now, but then I remember the feeling and thinking “I have made it!”
Now, almost eight years since attending the Summit, and seven years since graduating from MSU, I still remember a piece of advice from a fellow attendee: “Don’t waste a second of networking time while you’re here. Even if you don’t feel like you fit in, stay. You will meet someone who will challenge you, inspire you, and someone to learn from.”
She was right, and that’s the mentality I have taken with me to each conference and meeting since. I am still so appreciative for the scholarship program that gave me the opportunity to grow and meet new people.
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So far in this WIA Today series which checks in with previous scholarship students, we’ve heard from Anna Grace Goode, Stephanie Bailey, and Haylee VanScoy. The WIA Scholarship Program has welcomed more than 150 students over the past eight years, allowing them to attend the Summit, courtesy of our generous sponsors.
If you are a WIA student scholarship beneficiary or know of one who’d like to share her story, please reach out to Michelle Pelletier Marshall at email@example.com. To be considered for a scholarship, contact Carrie Vita at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit womeninag.com/initiatives.
ABOUT BRIDGET SILVERNAIL
Bridget Silvernail, west central regional manager with Michigan Farm Bureau, grew up in Sears, Michigan, on a dairy farm. At a young age, she knew she wanted to contribute and give back to the industry that helped shape her. She began her career in the dairy industry as a milk cooperative representative and worked in dairy checkoff before joining the team at Michigan Farm Bureau.
Silvernail believes the best way to make a difference is to show up for others, honesty is key, and that one act of kindness can change the world. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ryan, working on their farm; taking trips to Uganda, Africa, for mission’s work; and being a 4-H volunteer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a minor in agribusiness from Michigan State University.