Liz Hunt: Syngenta Leader in Sustainability
“I remember getting flower and garden seed catalogs in the mail and flipping through those, like other kids would flip through toy catalogs,” she says.
Growing up in a farming community in rural Iowa helped cultivate Hunt’s unique interests at a young age. Surrounded by farming and her large family garden, she started her first job at a local greenhouse in high school. She eventually pursued a degree and a career in horticulture before beginning her work for Syngenta Flowers, LLC.
“I’ve always been fascinated by plants and the wonder, joy and nourishment they bring to people,” she says. “As soon as I could work in a greenhouse to grow them, I did.”
Storytelling and Sustainability
After nearly 20 years in the horticulture industry, Hunt transitioned to her current role at Syngenta as a Sustainable Solutions lead. She primarily works with growers and with food and beverage companies that have made global commitments to source their key ingredients in a sustainable way.
“I work alongside these companies to implement strategies in the field to document and measure what practices are happening, and help them to tell that story of sustainable agriculture to their customers,” Hunt says. “This also gives Syngenta the opportunity to tell the story of modern agriculture and all the great initiatives that are happening on farms today.”
While it wasn’t easy to leave her passion for flowers behind, Hunt is optimistic about the potential impact of her sustainability work.
“I feel strongly that what I’m doing makes a difference in feeding a growing global population, while helping farmers have the freedom to operate long into the future. People need to eat now, and they will need to eat in the future, too.”
“I feel strongly that what I’m doing makes a difference in feeding a growing global population, while helping farmers have the freedom to operate long into the future. People need to eat now, and they will need to eat in the future, too,” she says.
The Impact of Women Globally
One of Hunt’s most influential experiences to date has been her work in Bangladesh through the Syngenta Growing Together Program. This program supports agricultural communities in northwest Bangladesh by working with local smallholder farmers, looking at market access and providing agricultural techniques training to improve their farming productivity and livelihoods. The experience was eye-opening for Hunt, particularly regarding the role women play in the culture.
“It’s fascinating to learn the stories of the amazing women in these communities,” she says.” I really respect their resilience and commitment to improving the lives of their families through agriculture.”
Hunt was drawn to the experiences of these women after facing her own experiences as a woman in the agriculture industry. She says although she has often been the only female on a team or among a group of growers, she has never let that define her work.
“I’m here to do my job, and I know I can learn from my male colleagues and they can learn from me,” she says. “If agriculture is what you’re passionate about as a woman, then do it. You’ll find your space in this industry. There’s room for everybody.”
Widespread Agriculture Involvement
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She and her family are very active year-round with outdoor activities. “If it is something that we can do that’s outside, we will try it,” she says enthusiastically.
Regardless of the specific branch of agriculture she pursues, it’s clear Hunt’s passion for her work and the agriculture industry can’t be contained.
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