West Virginia Women in Agriculture conference scheduled

KINGWOOD — Women in Wood County can grow their agricultural horizons by attending the West Virginia University Extension Service’s Women in Agriculture conference on Oct. 20 and 21 at Camp Dawson in Kingwood, Preston County, extension officials said.

“It’s a great opportunity for our local female farmers to continue to grow as innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Jodi Smith, 4-H extension agent and associate professor for the WVU Extension Service. “West Virginia’s female farmers have a significant impact on the state and local economies; in fact, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, female farmers in our state had an economic impact of $62 million last year.

“Those numbers can’t be ignored, and the WVU Extension Service Women in Ag team wants to equip female farmers from the area for more success when it comes to running and managing their farms,” Smith said

The Women in Ag conference is tailored to women, as conference organizers find that women generally learn differently, with an emphasis on hands-on, peer-to-peer learning. In every track, there’s a successful female mentor who runs her own farm in West Virginia to learn from and talk to.

The conference theme this year is “Stepping Up,” a challenge to women to enhance and refine management practices on their farms and take more leadership positions in agriculture organizations across the state, officials said.

Registered participants will be sent an email encouraging them to bring related items, such as farm records or soil testing results, to spur discussion and give them tailored advice on the topic that they can take home and implement immediately.

Organizers noted that risk management is a large part of the program, and specific sessions help women identify and put a plan in place to manage risks in their operation — everything from human resources to marketing and legal considerations to actual agricultural production.

More information and registration for the conference can be found at http://extension.wvu.edu/conferences/wia.

Scholarships for the conference are available courtesy of conference sponsors, including Nationwide Insurance and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Those interested should contact Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service agricultural economics specialist, at 304-293-7606 or dosingh-knights@mail.wvu.edu.

For questions regarding the conference in general, contact conference chair Stacey Huffman at 304-788-3621 or stacey.huffman@mail.wvu.edu.

To learn more about ways the WVU Extension Service uses research and local experts to empower citizens to improve their lives, visit www.extension.wvu.edu, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service at 304-424-1960.