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For the first time in more than a decade, the American Agri-Women’s national convention is returning to Oregon, site of the group’s origins.

The 44th-annual convention includes presentations from nationally recognized speakers, workshops, roundtable discussions and tours of Oregon farms and agribusinesses.

Farm tours will highlight crops that Oregon excels in, such as Christmas trees, hazelnuts and grass seed, all of which Oregon leads the nation in the production.

“We are trying to do some nice showcasing of Oregon ag,” said Helle Ruddenklau, co-chair of the convention and president of Oregon Women for Agriculture.

Roundtable discussions will feature agricultural education programs popular in Oregon, such as the crop identification signs that are posted on Oregon highways, Adopt a Farmer, the Summer Ag Institute and Ag in the Classroom.

“We want to show folks some of the programs that have been successful in Oregon, so they can take some of those ideas home to their home states,” Ruddenklau said.

Speakers for the convention include Kevin Folta, a University of Florida professor and nationally recognized expert on biotechnology; Jane Kirkpatrick, an Oregon author who writes stories based on lives of historical women; and Sharon Lacey, a motivational humorist and author.

Folta, who is scheduled to speak on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 2 to 3 p.m., has a history of confrontations with anti-GMO activists, a history that was accelerated after he was featured in a 2015 New York Times front-page story on biotechnology. He frequently conducts workshops designed to instruct scientists and farmers on how to speak about biotechnology. He was awarded the Borlaug CAST Communication award in 2016 by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.

Kirkpatrick, a New York Times bestselling author, will speak from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. also on Nov. 9. Lacey is featured as the Friday, Nov. 8, luncheon presentation.

The convention marks a return to the site of the group’s origins. According to a 1994-written history of American Agri-Women, titled “A Proud Heritage … A Precious Legacy,” the organization can be traced to the 1969 struggle to stave off the loss of field burning in the Willamette Valley.

“Oregon Women for Agriculture stood alone,” the authors state, “for their husbands were too busy farming to respond and fight the forces that were determining the course of American Agriculture.”

Oregon Women for Agriculture then became one of four state women agricultural groups behind the 1974 formation of American Agri-Women.

Today, AAW has more than 50 state- and commodity-affiliated organizations, as well as individual members, representing tens of thousands of women involved in agriculture, forestry and other natural resources industries. The organization lobbies on a federal level and is active in student and consumer education about agriculture.

The 2019 convention’s theme is Discover the Bounty at the End of the Oregon Trail. It will be held at the Embassy Suites in Tigard.

For more information or to register for the convention, go to https://americanagriwomen.org/national-convention/ or call 541-791-6031.

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