“The first time I actually met somebody majoring in soil science, I didn't think it was a real thing. I thought dirt was just dirt,” remarks Heather Matthees, senior data analyst at WinField United’s Innovation Center. Today, Heather is an expert in soil science, having worked in agriculture and agricultural research for over a decade and earned both masters and doctoral degrees in soil science.
A look into Heather’s workday
Heather has spent five years at the Innovation Center working with the data team. In her role, she reviews results of research trials and conducts statistical analyses for product development—in the field, greenhouse or growth chamber—to help make sure every product launched or distributed by WinField United is a good product for farmers.
One of Heather’s favorite projects at the Innovation Center has been working on ways to add value to food, feed, fiber and fuel for farmers through pilot projects and the Advanced Acre® Rx program.
Heather’s also working on testing biological products to help farmers determine how to best use them. This involves testing on WinField United’s Answer Plot® network to help ensure products perform in the field as they're designed to.
“This gives an unbiased check for our growers and our owners that they can trust,” she says, “because it really depends on where your field is, what your field condition is, and your environment.”
Advice for young people pursuing careers in STEM or agriculture
Heather encourages young people to make their voices heard because agriculture and STEM careers need more diverse representation.
“Even still, currently I'm either one of or the only woman in a lot of meetings that I'm in,” she remarks. “There's so much more work that can and should be done.”
Heather wants young people to know that being a woman without an agricultural background shouldn't deter them from wanting to work in the field.
“There are different perspectives that people can bring. Experiences matter and they count.”
Lastly, she encourages women to keep forging their paths in male-dominated fields.
“There are times when it may feel like you're not being listened to because you are a woman, but so many women in science have made great strides,” she says. “Within soil science, the representation of women is starting to turn over to be more inclusive.”