Curbing environmental impacts while feeding the future is key to the success of the agriculture industry—in this Faces of Agriculture feature, Karlyn Stuart talks about her career journey and the importance of including more purpose-driven women in STEM and agriculture careers.
Throughout her career journey, Karlyn Stuart has always desired to make an impact on the world, creating positive change in a field she’s passionate about. But finding the right career fit wasn’t always easy. She originally went to school for psychology, before deciding to change her major.
“Obviously, psychology is important and intriguing,” says Stuart, “but I was drawn to this larger challenge of improving our relationship with the Earth.”
“When I was looking at biology major, I found environmental science, which had biology degrees as well as chemistry and calculus. I just thought that's a great holistic view to take. And I thought there'd be a lot of different career paths I could explore within that.”
Achieving a degree in STEM can be challenging, but as Stuart found, it was well worth it in the end.
“I almost didn't take environmental science because there were some courses that I found very daunting,” says Stuart.
“But I'm really happy I stuck with it. I've learned to keep pushing forward and focus on long-term goals. So, that degree might be scary, but if you know it can help you achieve a purpose it'll give you that momentum to keep moving forward.”
Her desire to impact the world through environmental science soon led her to an unexpected field of work—agriculture.
“Ending up in agriculture was a stroke of luck for me,” says Stuart.
“There's such a challenge and opportunity that exists within the context of agriculture. It's finding innovative ways to take climate action while also ensuring we have enough food for everyone—we can feed the future and have that security. So, being part of that conversation makes me proud. There's a critical nexus there and we have to make sure we balance it.”
She soon found her fit when she landed a job at Nutrien, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services. With the global population reaching 10 billion people by 2050, the company has made it their mission to play a leading role in cultivating solutions for growers to meet the challenge of feeding, clothing, and fueling the world while supporting a new era of sustainable agriculture.
Feeling her own values aligned with Nutrien, Stuart originally applied for any job available to get her foot in the door. Starting in the treasury, she soon moved to the wholesale business in nitrogen and phosphate and then finally landed her current position in environmental management.
Stuart has now worked at Nutrien for six years. She works with her team to collect data from across the company to determine their impacts on the environment.
“I'm the manager for the Scope 3 footprint team,” says Stuart.
Scope 3 emissions are those that aren’t produced by the company, but that the company is indirectly responsible for through its participation in the value chain. Once these impacts are measured, action can then be taken.
“It's a lot of collaboration with cross-functional stakeholders to look at where we can reduce our impact and drive sustainable practices,” says Stuart.
“It's having that conversation and looking at areas that overlap to work on together towards that more sustainable future.”
Another great way that Stuart advocates for a sustainable future, is by lifting up other women within the agriculture sector.
“When I think about the future of women in agriculture, I think it’s really exciting,” says Stuart.
“Studies show that, generally, women farmers are more likely to farm sustainably and improve conditions for future use. Involving women in decision-making can improve conservation and crop production, it boosts cooperation, and increases output at the same time.”
And she’s pleased to see the company she works for shares these same values.
“Inclusion is a core value and a fundamental part of the culture and care at Nutrien. Fostering inclusive agriculture, increasing representation of underrepresented stakeholders, including women, is a key part of our feeding the future plan,” says Stuart.
“We have set goals to increase representation of women in leadership to 30 per cent by 2025 and maintain a board of directors of a least 30 per cent women.”
Stuart loves being able to share what she does and encourages other young women to follow in her footsteps, seeking out purpose-driven careers in agriculture that inspire others to take action and make a positive impact in the world.
“I think diversity is really important, because it does foster creative problem solving, and that can lead to advancements or identifying challenges or solutions that might otherwise be overlooked. If you include different cultures, perspectives, experiences, or identities, that broadens the quality of ideas and thereby supports innovation—and that's important everywhere,” says Stuart.
This Faces of Agriculture profile highlights Karlyn Stuart, who is also a feature speaker for Agriculture for Life's Feed Your Future (FYF) 2023. Stuart shares her career journey in agriculture! In Stuart’s speaker video, she explains how she is following her sense of purpose at Nutrien while making an impact on working towards a sustainable future. For Stuart’s full FYF workshop, follow this link!
Feed Your Future is an exciting virtual event presented by Agriculture for Life. The goal is to reach young urban and rural women of all backgrounds with an interest in agriculture and the agri-food industry as a potential STEM career pathway, showcasing ways to advance in education, opportunities for networking, professional development, mentorship, and collaboration.
Visit feedyourfuturecareer.ca/resources or follow our YouTube channel to see all of our FYF workshops.
Step into a career in agriculture and STEM. There's a fit for everyone!