Breaking Boundaries: Emma Sharkey's Journey from Uncertainty to Agricultural Success

Henderson Community College (HCC) Agriculture student Emma Sharkey is no stranger to breaking boundaries and shattering stereotypes. “I love to prove people wrong,” Emma shared. As a female in a historically male-dominated field, she has had to work harder to prove herself and earn the respect of employers and colleagues.

girl standing in front of farm equipment in a field

Despite being unsure of her career trajectory during her early high school years in Union County, Emma's life took an unexpected turn when a friend introduced her to the world of agriculture through Future Farmers of America (FFA). FFA became more than just a club for Emma; it became her gateway to a world of possibilities. During her FFA membership, she served as the club’s Reporter in addition to competing on the Parliamentary Procedure Team and in speech competitions. 

HCC Professor of Agriculture Dr. Laura Winstead adds, “Through her involvement in FFA, Emma developed leadership skills and a passion for agriculture. She carried that passion to the agriculture program at HCC.  Emma is a talented individual with a bright future in agriculture.”

Emma’s passion was also fueled by her work and internships with local agriculture-related entities like S&P Farms, Ohio Valley Farm Analysis, and Nutrien Ag Solutions, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services.

woman standing by an agriculture truck

"Scott Omer, owner of S&P Farms, has been a huge mentor to me,” Emma stated. “During my time working there, he  taught me everything I needed to know with patience and diligence. He has continued to help me make connections and gain learning experiences. I am very grateful for his overwhelming support.” 

Fast forward to the present day, and Emma is poised to graduate from HCC in May, armed with knowledge, skills, and a fierce determination to make her mark in the agricultural industry. She is open to future career opportunities but is currently leaning toward the sales and marketing side of the business.

In a testament to her ambition and drive, Emma has already secured a summer internship with Helena Agri-Enterprises, a leading U.S.-based provider of agronomic solutions. She will head to Iowa in May where she will immerse herself in hands-on training and invaluable experiences within the agricultural industry.

At the completion of her training, Emma will go to Montgomery, Indiana for a three-month internship. Balancing her professional aspirations with her commitment to education, Emma plans to continue her studies this fall through online classes with Murray State University while working full-time at Helena Agri-Enterprises’ Division office in Owensboro.

girl standing in an agriculture warehouse

"Working on a farm drove my passion for agriculture and wanting to help farmers,” Emma said. “As part of the farming community, I have seen the countless hours, late nights, hard work, and dedication that goes into feeding the world. Being a farmer isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. If farming was just sitting in the cab of a tractor all day everyone would do it.”

Emma's journey is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unwavering belief in one's abilities. As she continues to break barriers and defy expectations, Emma serves as an inspiration to aspiring agriculturalists everywhere, proving that with passion and perseverance, anything is possible.