Women’s conference expands across region

Matthew Weaver
Washington State University's Women in Agriculture conference will broadcast to 27 locations March 15, including new sites in Idaho and Oregon.

A Washington conference for women in agriculture will expands to sites in Idaho and Oregon this year.

Washington State University’s Women in Agriculture conference will broadcast to 27 locations in the Pacific Northwest from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 15.

The conference is designed to bring women together and offer an opportunity for education and networking, said Margaret Viebrock, WSU Extension educator in Waterville, Wash., and coordinator of the conference.

The conference aims to help women reduce risk in their farming operations. This year’s theme is “Change Happens: Make It an Opportunity.”

“We feel, and women have told us this, they learn differently than men,” Viebrock said. “They particularly like to get together and share, talk about their operations with other people and seek information from another producer about how they do things.”

Changes could mean a new enterprise, hiring employees, transitioning to or from organic or bringing relatives on board, Viebrock explained.

Attendees range in age from their late 20s to 70s, Viebrock said.

“Change affects everybody,” she said.

The conference selected convenient locations where women have been underserved for educational opportunities, she said.

“We want women to be successful, so they better understand the risk they have to overcome, and so we give them the tools to do that,” Viebrock said.

Vermont farmer Heather Darby is a keynote speaker. Her presentation will be broadcast to all locations. According to conference information, Darby manages a 130-acre, 200-year-old family farm and will share her strategies for success. The operation includes fruit and vegetable production, a small apiary, a community supported agriculture program, a farm stand and a custom grazing service for local organic dairies.

The workshops will then examine the financial aspects of changes, such as buying another piece of equipment, adding an employee or purchasing more land, Viebrock said.

Each location will feature panels made up of women talking about changes they’ve made in their operations.

The program includes development of a personal action plan for use on the participant’s farm.

“When they know what their farm vision is, that helps them make decisions, their financial management is improved, they’re better at marketing and they tell us they have an increase in their bottom line,” she said.

Several locations will also have follow-up workshops, she said.

Online

http://womeninag.wsu.edu



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