Ceres Rising

A book to help guide women to be leaders in the agriculture industry. It’s a must read for women who want to be “outstanding in their field.”

Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture and grain. The word cereal is derived from her name. She was beloved for her service to mankind in giving the gift of the harvest, the reward for cultivation of the soil. Also known as the Greek goddess Demeter, Ceres was credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain and corn. Ceres is often referred to in modern agriculture, and her statue sits atop the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) in downtown Chicago, as well as on top of the Missouri and Vermont state capitol buildings.

We chose the name of our book, Ceres Rising, as a metaphor for what is happening with women in agriculture today. More women are coming back to agriculture, to their roots, to raising our food and running ag businesses. This creates a need to allow more women at the meeting table. There’s momentum – but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more.
Our sincere hope is that this book will deepen your understanding of women leaders in agriculture (we call them WLAs) and that it will serve as a guide for young and more experienced women alike. Women’s advancement as leaders in the ag world requires us to continue to be strong, focused, and effective managers with a relentless passion for learning and development. 

Jeanne Bernick

Throughout her 20-years as an agricultural journalist, Jeanne developed long-standing relationships with farmers, sitting at their kitchen tables, watching their families grow, seeing the kids take over the operation, and witnessing businesses fail and succeed. As an editor and award-winning writer for Farm Journal Media, she traveled nationally and internationally and authored thousands of articles that captured the trials and triumphs of the farmers who feed the world. She helped establish a national women’s agricultural business conference (Executive Women in Agriculture) that provides a community for women to find resources and network with like-minded business owners. Today, she is an ag consultant with KCoe Isom, a national farm financial consulting firm, where she helps connect ag producers with the right business resources to sustain their long-term livelihood. Jeanne lives in Eastern Iowa.

Michelle Painchaud

As a certified human performance technologist, Michelle is founder of the Painchaud Performance Group, an international consulting firm. Michelle devotes her energies to helping agriculture businesses grow through helping them leverage the human side of their business—their people. She is a seasoned executive coach, known to “push the envelope” challenging her clients, particularly women leaders, to excel. She is an internationally acclaimed speaker delivering lively, engaging, and sometimes provocative presentations to educate and inspire audiences on the subjects of employee engagement, human performance, organizational culture, and leadership. Michelle lives in Winnipeg, Canada.​

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"In recent years I have witnessed a transformation of leadership on the farm. More daughters, sisters, and wives are taking over the family business. I have watched timid farm girls grow into fierce leaders of their family farming operations. Change is happening in rural America, and that change has a woman’s face behind it."
– Jeanne Bernick, Co-Author, Ceres Rising
"There’s a transformation happening in the ag world where women’s talents are embraced, recognized, valued, and needed in business. Women will play a significant role in the future of business growth and in the success of the agricultural industry."
– Michelle Painchaud, Co-Author, Ceres Rising
"What makes me different from most women farmers is that this is my family farm and I am the operator, not my husband."
– April Hemmes
“Training employees is a bit like fishing; you are not sure what is underneath the surface until you go trolling to find out. You might get a hint that an employee has an artistic flare that could help with your marketing. You discover that an employee is really good at making customers happy."
– Anne Burnham, owner of Burnham Family Farm Market, a fruit and vegetable business in Ontario, Canada