Dr. Tara Wade, assistant professor in Food and Resource Economics housed at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, was recently recognized by the AAEA Committee on Women in Agricultural Economics with the Diversity and Inclusion Award at their annual conference.
Wade earned her Ph.D. in Energy and Environmental Systems in December 2011 from North Carolina A&T State University. In Spring 2012, she began her career as an economist jointly employed by North Carolina A&T State University and US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. In April 2017, she joined the University of Florida’s Food and Resource Economics department as an Assistant Professor and is housed at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida. Since joining our university, she has become an instrumental mentor figure to graduate students and peer to her fellow agricultural economists.
In her scholarly research, Dr. Wade has promoted the advancement of diversity and equity within the field of agricultural economics through conducting research on gender and racial inequity in hiring and promotion of agricultural economics faculty.
At the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, she co-founded and co-chairs the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA) committee.
Starting off by implementing a demographic survey to identify the needs of different groups at SWFREC, Wade said the first thing that the committee discovered and started to enact policies to address was the disconnect between external field workers and internal staff and researchers at SWFREC.
“That was the first thing we wanted to do, to make everyone in our community feel included,” Wade said.
One of those efforts enacted was to establish a including a “Farm Crew Appreciation Day” to show appreciation to those working in the field and let them know how important their contributions are to research and extension, and how they help achieve the timely completion of farm operations.
Another major initiative has been a seminar series, organized in conjunction with the SWFREC graduate student organization. Wade says that the IDEA committee partnered with them once a month to hold informal meetings where someone talks about their country and their culture.
Both Farm Crew Appreciation Day and the seminar series have proven to be popular and successful efforts in bringing people together.
“We all get to know each other and get into this comfortable space where we can eventually have the more difficult conversations that need to be had,” Wade said.
Dr. Wade continues to move forward, both with the IDEA committee and in her own efforts to see how things can be improved.
“This is a process that very well might involve a change of culture,” Wade said. “We are just at the very beginning of the process.”