Association Of Women In Agriculture Celebrates 50 Years

Over the past 50 years, the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWA) has journeyed through legacy moments, achievements, perseverance, and resilience and in doing so, helped develop exemplary women leaders. No one knows this better than the 2023 Founder Award recipients, the Founding Members of the organization. In recognition of 50 years of AWA, the AWA Founders Award was presented to the 10 founding members of AWA. These 10 founding members are Donna Cooper Humphreys, Emily Knigge Uhlenhake, Jody Spanul, Barb Lee, Sue Lazarcik Lerner, Sue Fritz Alderman (deceased), Sue North Gall (deceased), Kathy Waite Braun, Patty Prust Heckart and Phyllis Gerner Agnew.
In the spring of 1973, AWA’s Founding Members, 10 women majoring in agriculture formed the Ag Women’s Cooperative. Soon after, they learned they couldn’t use the word “cooperative”. In the fall of 1974, the name was then changed to the Association of Women in Agriculture. Bylaws were also drafted that fall. Dues were set at $1.00.
One year later, 12 members shared rent for $375 a semester at 308 N Prospect Street. The home was referred to as the AWA house. Meetings were held there and membership quickly soared to 47 members. An advisor was needed. Dr. Larry Satter stepped up to be the advisor.
AWA treasurer Kathy Waite Braun attended the July 9th, 1975, Ag and Life Sciences Alumni Association Meeting (today known as WALSAA). There, she asked for support of this new group and the alumni association agreed to two things. First, they would provide a mailing list of CALS women graduates and cover the mailing costs. Second, they put an article in their next alumni newsletter to describe the organization and provide publicity for the group.
This describes the beginning of AWA. If it wasn’t for these 10 Founding Members’ resilience as well as perseverance to believe in women in agriculture, UW-Madison’s Association of Women in Agriculture would not be the thriving organization it is today. The founding members established an organization of women passionate about agriculture, who created memories, lifelong friendships, a network of support, and professional development to become leaders in every way possible.