AWA History

In the spring of 1973, 10 women majoring in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin – Madison formed an organization called the Ag Women's Cooperative. These forward-thinking women sought to form a unified group that would improve communication among women in agriculture and aid them in achieving their goals.  The group included Phyllis Agnew (Gerner), Sue Hyslop (Lazaricik), Emily Uhlenhanke (Knigge), Donna Cooper, Sue Gall (North), Lois Legatt (Setter), Sue Alderman (Fritz), Barb Lee, Maureen DeBruin, and Patty Prust (Gonzales). In the fall of 1974, the name was changed to the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWA).

An early goal of the organization was to obtain a living unit for student members. A 1974 letter-writing campaign to College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) women graduates raised $300 and attracted interest in AWA. The money was used to purchase an upright freezer. In 1978, AWA members rented 1935 University Avenue and 4123 Paunack Place.

AWA's first spring banquet, which included an annual meeting, installation of officers, and  awards ceremony, was held in the spring of 1976. Today, this is annual event is known as AWA Day. 

The alumni organization officially formed in 1979, and in 1981, AWA incorporated. The Board of Directors acts as the corporation's governing body.

AWA's first newsletter was published in 1979. Today, AWA uses its website and regular electronic communications to stay in contact with members and friends. Also in 1979, the first spring formal, then called Spring Fling, was held.

An advisory committee including Dr. Larry Satter, Rick Daluge, Nadine (Johnson) Miller and Jan Wheaton, was formed to look into housing. After a long and difficult search, the houses on University Avenue (1909 and 1915) were purchased in 1983. The blue and white houses held 19 women. Members started living here in the fall of 1983 and continued to do so until the new house was built at 1909 University Ave. in 1994. Phil Harris did the legal work and Dr. Satter, along with many others, helped to achieve the major goal of AWA. After many years of planning and fundraising, AWA’s dream came true. At 1909 University Avenue, the new house stands where the old blue house once stood. This dream was made possible by the relentless efforts of our alumni including: Sharon Brantmier, New House Committee Chair and Jodi Saevre, Fundraising Chair.

The three pillars of AWA are service, social and professional. Professional activities include potential interviews, dress for success, the mentor program, etiquette dinner, financial planning workshops held by alumni, networking dinners and more. AWA women strive for professional success by doing multiple internships in various areas including communications, research, sales, finance and others, which leads to AWA membes working in many fields spanning the nation. 

Social activites include house dinners with other agriculture groups on campus, AWA formal, AWA initiation, craft nights, sister bonding activities like movie nights, cookie decorating, pumpkin carving, and ice skating.

Service activities include volunteering at the Ronald McDonald house, card making, Second Harvest Food Bank, highway clean-up, ringing bells for Salvation Army, Rally to Fight Hunger, and much more.

Fundraising has always been an integral part of AWA. Since 1983, one of our biggest sources of fundraising income has been football parking. Over the years, other fundaisers have included members doing projects at the request of alumni and friends, assisting employers at the Career Fair, paint nights, Culvers Scoopie Nights, the sale of Tupperware, Pampered Chef, kringles, note cards, calendars, and others.



1973 Ag Women's Co-op founded
1974 Name changed to the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWA)
First fundraiser was a letter writing campaign, raising $300
First house at 308 North Prospect
1976 First Spring Banquet began
Farmers Olympics began
1977 First 'Project'-Based Fundraiser began where members give their time and assistance with projects in exchange for funds for AWA
1978 Rented 1935 University Avenue and 412 Paunack Place
First Homecoming Warm Down held
1979 AWA began affiliation with Farm House Fraternity
First Spring Fling (Formal) held
Newsletter begins
Alumni organization founded
1980 Summer Picnic started
1981 AWA incorporated to AWA Inc.
1983 Blue and White House purchased
Affiliation with Farm House ended
1985 Ag Women's Conference began
1989 First representative on Homecoming court
Fundraising started for new house
1990 Participated in Homecoming with Babcock House for the first time
AWA Day and Ag Women's Conference combined
1993 Final plans for new house completed
AWA Scholarship Endowment Fund established at the UW Foundation
1994 Old blue house torn down, and building of the new AWA House began in spring
Building completed in August, first residents moved in for the fall semester
New house dedication was held on November 19, 1994
Hundreds of donors, faculty, actives and alumni attend dedication
1995 New house featured in Wisconsin State Journal, receives Community Award
1996 First AWA Dairy Breakfast held, now known as Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF)
1997 More than 1,000 people served at the second annual AWA Dairy Breakfast
1998 AWA celebrated 25th Anniversary with AWA Day at the new Monona Terrace Convention Center
1999 Received Cancer Walk Recognition for outstanding performance and fundraising
AWA had a member on the Homecoming court
2000 Record attendance at AWA Dairy Breakfast: More than 1,500 people were served!
2003 AWA celebrates their 30th anniversary with a special AWA Day program
2004 AWA House celebrates its 10th anniversary
2006 AWA had a member on the Homecoming court
2008 AWA had a member on the Homecoming court
2010 AWA had a member on the Homecoming court
2013 AWA becomes educational non-profit and recognized as the Association of Women in Agriculture Benefit Corporation
AWA members begin hosting Ag Chat radio show on WSUM
2014 AWA House mortgage was paid off
Student membership reaches all-time high with 122 members
Ag Chat radio show receives first place, best public affairs/talk show from Wisconsin Broadcasters Association
AWA Wins College Aggies Online Competition and Receives $5000 Award
2016 1st Annual Rally to Fight Hunger held
20th Anniversary of Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF)
AWA Receives CALS Student Org of the Year Award
AWA House basement recreated into a usable living/study space
Capital Campaign Begins for AWA House Remodel
2017 2nd Annual Rally to Fight Hunger a success in collaboration with AGR
Renovations Completed for the AWA House Kitchen & Great Room Remodel
2018 Celebration of Capital Campaign Donors held
3rd Annual Rally to Fight Hunger held again in conjunction with AGR
45th Annual AWA Day celebrated
5th Year of Ag chat radio show successful on WSUM
2020 1st Virtual AWA Day
1st Graduate Studies Scholarship Winners Awarded