First Farm Female, RHORI

First Day Farm Female: Elizabeth Wrage

The “First Day Farm Female” series includes articles posted on the first day of the month featuring fellow Illinois women in agriculture.

For Elizabeth Wrage, a fulfilling life is all about finding the right balance.

Elizabeth grew up on a family farm. In her grade school years she recalls riding the bus to her grandparents’ dairy farm every day after school to scrape manure with a shovel in the barn. She isn’t sure how her family convinced her this was a prized job, but she took great satisfaction in getting the barn floor clean. No doubt the dedication and gratification in a job well done that was instilled in her through this work as a young girl provided the foundation for Elizabeth’s life successes.

With plans for a lifelong-full-time career in agriculture, Elizabeth set the stage with impressive accomplishments during her post-secondary education. She earned a B.A. in Biology and a minor in General Business from Washington University in St. Louis. She went on to study at the University of Illinois where she finished with a M.S. in Crop Sciences and Certificates in both Business Administration and Biotechnology & Public Policy. While there, she worked in a laboratory analyzing DNA/RNA changes in a line of corn that had been a focus of the university for over one-hundred breeding generations.

Elizabeth went on to work for Monsanto Company for more than ten years, holding a variety of roles related to corn breeding and agronomic research.  During that time she and her husband, Jason, had two daughters. As their family grew, Elizabeth determined the best way to balance work and family life was to step back from full-time work for a while.  Her love for her work made it a difficult decision, but she looks back and knows it was the right one for herself and her family. Within a short time of leaving that job, she had the opportunity to return as a part-time contractor. Today Elizabeth works part-time for Innovative Seed Solutions; a joint-venture sorghum company with Bayer and Remington Seeds. Her work ethic and relationships built during the first part of her career helped translate to potential employers that she could be a reliable worker for part-time work. Proof that doing your best and learning all you can in the job you are doing, can make more of a difference in your future than you realize at the time.

Elizabeth has sound advice for women at any stage in their career. “Always be positive, network with others, follow through on your work, and do your best every day. When you begin to feel doing your best means you are sacrificing something else that is more important to you, be real in taking a pause and evaluating priorities.” 

Elizabeth shares another interesting thing that happens when you stop and check your priorities: you create space for new, unforeseen opportunities. Elizabeth’s recently published children’s book just launched last month. The book was built upon a story she wrote and used with her children years earlier while working full-time. After transitioning to part-time work and allowing more space in her life to create, she took time to complete and publish The Christmas Kindness Kids. Not knowing how your path will unfold before you, Elizabeth adds, “say yes as often as it makes sense for your family and enjoy the ride.”

You can learn more about it at

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