LEAVEN award

Kimberly Schmuhl, left, presents Jean Goslin of Dwight, Kansas, with the American Agri-Women LEAVEN Award.

Pouring heart and soul into what the earth brings and grows, two women deeply rooted in agriculture have earned the American Agri-Women’s LEAVEN award.

Jean Goslin, of Dwight in east central Kansas, was born and raised on a dairy and beef cattle farm. Growing up, she was active in 4-H and showing horses. Today, she raises beef cattle while helping her family manage a hay operation on their ranch.

Admired by her peers, Goslin was nominated and selected as an award winner along with Pam Townsend from Presque Isle, Maine. Goslin is a long-time member and past president of her American Agri-Women state affiliate, a former vice president of education, and she serves on the organization’s vital issues committee.

“I am very proud of Jean and all her accomplishments, especially the LEAVEN award, the highest honor for any AAW member. Jean has become a mentor to so many of us agri-women, not only in Kansas but also on the national level,” said Lesley Schmidt, vice president of education for American Agri-Women.

Goslin was instrumental in coordinating the Women Heroes of Science and Technology bookmark series the Cultivating Resiliency Program for American Agri-Women.

“Jean has served our organization and state affiliate very well,” Schmidt said.

There are three other instrumental programs Goslin helped get off the ground during her term: Agday365, Gen Z Speaks Ag, and the webinar series called Essential Farm and Ranch Business Management Skills.

American Agri-Women LEAVEN Award chairwoman Kimberly Schmuhl said this year’s two winners were chosen for the award by fellow members for being stellar role models. Goslin and Townsend received the award at the organization’s national conference in Oregon last November.

The LEAVEN Award is meant to recognize those who have acted as “leaven.” A feminine concept, since “lady” means giver of bread, and “leaven” (yeast) is a small element that can interact and influence everything around it, multiplying its effectiveness for good.

The meaning of the award is linked to the letters of the word:

L-Loyalty to the mission of American Agri-Women


A-Anticipatory (thinks and plans ahead, does not react to crisis only)

V-Valiant (has courage, overcomes any natural timidity)

E-Effectiveness (exhibits ability to produce intended effects)

N-Nurturing (encourages and helps develop talents and skills of others)

Schmuhl, who’s also on the foundation board, noted it’s not about just one important quality when selecting a winner. The candidate has to represent all those qualities.

“Just Jean’s voice alone, which is true and strong impacts the entire ag sector because she is out there communicating, sharing current issues impacting agriculture today. Doing what she does on the daily, is enough to inspire young ladies everywhere,” Schmuhl said.

Townsend has been office manager for a large family farming operation for 23 years. She is president of her state affiliate and hasn’t missed a convention since she first attended in 2012. Her grandfather was a potato farmer. She picked potatoes, and is still working in the potato industry today.

“We started doing a Wreaths Across America Ceremony for Veterans, also partnering with our hospitals, and doing ‘ag road trips’ across Maine,” Townsend said. “If I asked someone to join our group and they answered they were not involved in agriculture, I’d respond, ‘If you wear clothes and eat, you are involved!’”

Although the annual convention wasn’t affected by COVID-19, the pandemic did cancel the organization’s mid-year and fly-in events and National Ag Day. The next LEAVEN awards are schedule to take place in Montana this November.

As American Agri-Women recognizes women, the goal is to lift them up as individuals other members can look up to as mentors and dedicated volunteers, Schmidt and Schmuhl said. They hope Goslin and Townsend inspire many to continue moving forward positively in the direction of truth.

Amy Hadachek can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

Amy Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in North Central Kansas. She's also a meteorologist and storm chaser. Amy can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.