Women in Agriculture conference set for 34 location

Washington State University Extension will again bring women in agriculture together to network and hear guest speakers offering practical advice and new skills.

This year’s conference, “Healthy Farms,” will be Jan. 25 and will focus on cultivating personal resiliency to handle all the “ups and downs” as a women farmer.

Women in 33 locations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii will use the internet to link to the main event at the Walla Walla, Wash., Legislative Building.

It is no secret that farming can be tough, whether it is caused by factors that can be controlled or that farmers try to control when they can’t, said Margaret Viebrock, WSU Douglas and Chelan County Extension director and chairman of the conference.

The stress of farming has always existed, but it soars during times of high costs and low returns, she said.

The interactive conference is designed to motivate women in agriculture to develop a self-care plan and realize the connection between a healthy person and a healthy farm. It will offer headline speakers at all locations, tailoring the conference content for each region, she said.

Last year, nearly 500 women attended.

“Many attendees reported it is the best conference for women producers because it presents practical information they can use right away,” she said.

This year’s lineup includes Brenda Mack, a third-generation farmer in Minnesota who is also a behavior and wellness professor at Bemidji State University. She will be joined by Shauna Reitmeier, a third-generation farmer who specializes in behavioral health with the Northwest Mental Health Center in Minnesota.

Together they will focus on helping women farmers strengthen their personal health care to reduce the effects of stress, worry and exhaustion.

In addition, Sue Schneider of Colorado State University Extension will teach women how to make mindful farming and personal decisions without reacting to negative thoughts, emotions and judgments.

Each location will have a local panel of women farmers who will speak on how they have developed their own self-care plan to deal with day-to-day events and make mindful decisions that helped them be successful in farming.

Gabrielle McNally, who represents the Women for the Land: American Farmland Trust’s Initiative, will explain how the initiative engages women farmers on topics of conservation, farmland preservation and land access. A partnership with the initiative can implement local peer-to-peer learning circles.

The conference is designed for women who are farming, as well as new and aspiring farmers. Supporting spouses, students, interns or people who own an agriculture-related business are also welcome.

The conference registration fee is $30 before Jan. 17 and $35 after that date. The fee includes the workshop, light breakfast, lunch and conference materials.

For details about the conference, locations and registration, visit www.womeninag.wsu.edu .