The Women in Ag Grant judges bring to the role a wealth of knowledge of the ag industry and commercial/small business space. Both have experience working in the credit union system and beyond.

Lydia Pawluk


Born and raised on a small grain and cattle farm by Willingdon Alberta, Lydia graduated from High School in Vegreville, Alberta and went to NAIT for Business.  Her dream was to become an accountant, but upon meeting her husband, her life took a bit of a turn.

Together, they took over her husband’s family farm and have been farming for 30+ years, operating a grain and cattle operation ourselves.  She and her husband raised three daughters who grew up learning to operate every piece of equipment. They all helped run the cow/calf operation, which at one point was up to 400 cows, with never a shortage of work.

Once each of her daughters went off to post secondary and started their own careers, Lydia downsized the cattle operation to a more manageable size and started working off farm full-time as well.  All of her off farm employment has been in the Agriculture field; first working as a Relationship Manager with Farm Credit Canada and currently as an Agriculture & Commercial Lending Specialist with Vision Credit Union. She is passionate about building ag businesses and excited to be a Women in Ag Grant judge.

Joanne Prysunka


Growing up on a family farm east of Olds, Alberta, Joanne witnessed first-hand the resiliency of farmers. Her father and uncle were partners on a mixed farm where they managed a feedlot and grain operation. Like any farming operation, there were ups and downs to the business, especially during the 1980s when high interest rates had a dramatic effect on all sectors, including agriculture.

Despite her close ties to agriculture, Joanne’s professional career actually started in healthcare when she studied nursing. Upon gradutating and working in the field, she realized nursing wasn’t quite the right fit for her and pivoted to the business world, attending the University of Lethbridge’s Bachelor of Management program. Upon graduation, Joanne tried out a few different roles including as a small business advisor, commercial real estate professional and investor. But in the back of her mind, she always recalled the adversities that her father and uncle faced throughout those tough economic times on the farm. Eventually, she returned to agriculture with a goal to help ag businesses thrive.

Today, Joanne is semi-retired and continues to work and live in central Alberta, with a focus on mental health, serving clients in rural Alberta. In her previous role, she was a Vice President of connectFirst who led a team of fifteen people working to help Alberta producers and farmers navigate the complexities of financing, offering support for small family farms and large-scale agriculture operations, which is why she is pleased to be a Women in Ag Grant judge.