Overall Women Conference a Conference to Todays Rural Women

Linda Engelken Fischer, Benton County Extension Education Director, Southeast Area

Problem Statement:

Rural Women want to improve farm business skills and learn more about risk management strategies along with other human resource risks as was the purpose of creating the Overall Women Conference in Southeast Iowa.  Rural women requested a program for just women and have been part of the planning and implementation of this 2-day conference since it began in 2005.  A post conference and 6-month follow-up evaluation was conducted in 2007 to measure changes and goals they would make in the farm business and personal lives. 

Programmatic Response: 

The Overall Women Conference is a 2-day conference to provide information in value-added agriculture, farm business practices, marketing, financial planning, and information to improve the quality of life of their families.  Since it began in 2005 attendance has been 150 to 175 participants, mostly within a 150 mile radius of Cedar Rapids/Iowa City.


In July of 2007 a six-month follow-up survey was mailed to 120 Overall Womens conference participants.   This survey summarized the goals participants indicated they would address as a result of attending the conference.  There were 53 surveys (42%) returned.

As a result of attending the Overall Women Conference participants told us the following:
31 participants reviewed their estate plan and 14 participants created an estate plan or will.
30 participants increased involvement in farm record keeping and 19 made improvements in their record keeping system
15 computerized their record keeping system and 7 are still addressing this issue
25 participants increased their involvement in the farm operation
30 participants became more involved in farm business decisions
19 participants became more involved in grain marketing
* 4 new valued added ag ventures were created
Conference attendees were also asked if they made any changes or were still planning to make changes to their personal life as a result of participation in the Overall Women Conference.  Their responses are as follows:

33 participants said they have a more positive attitude about agriculture and farming
27 participants increased communication with farm family members and 25 said they improved communication with farm family members

23 participants have increased their involvement in their community
29 participants have spent more time with their family
21 participants said they have improved their organization skills

Additional comments from participants included:

This conference is a vital connecting point for women in AG.  I look forward to these conferences as a way to keep a finger on the pulse of what other farm wives are doing out there.

The conference is very good for all ages of women.  There are a variety of subjects to interest the participants.  We are happy to have a conference geared to help us understand our roles and to be better farm partners.

I feel it is very important to arm ourselves with the true facts and understand many aspects of farm production from corn to beef.   Only then can I stand up and support our business of choice.

Women play a huge role in farming operations, but most information is targeted toward the men. 

When my husband asks me for my opinion about whether to buy an implement etc, I will give my opinion after weighing the pros and cons rather than just saying, I dont know.

120 Farm Business Management


Page last updated: September 28, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu