An Overall Conference for Today's Rural Women

Denise Schwab, Beef Field Specialist, Southeast Iowa

Problems

Women in ag, and farm wives, often have difficulty accessing the same information and resources as their male counterparts. They may be talked down to at public meetings, or have different learning styles than men. However, they desire to learn more about the ag business they are directly or indirectly involved in.

Response

A committee of southeast Iowa Extension staff, volunteers, and partners were formed to address this issue. It was decided to host a conference for these women in agriculture. The committee raised over $30,000 in donations and in-kind support to help control the costs of the conference and to keep the registration fee at $100. Over 120 women attended the conference despite a winter snow storm. There were four tracks of speakers: value-added agriculture, agribusiness, personal development, and leisure. These four tracks provided opportunities for everyone to learn and relax. Twenty-nine speakers provided keynotes and breakout presentations on a wide range of topics including: grain marketing, starting a value-added business, what every wife should know, estate planning, farm safety, agri-tourism, vineyards, CSA's, organic production, long-term care, stress relief, landscaping, photography, and family issues.

Impact

Women left the conference with a sense of reinvigoration and renewed passion for their role in Iowa agriculture. I've never had so many people approach me with positive comments on a program. Everything from 'the best program I've every attended' to 'I'm so glad you invited me, I learned so much' and 'I can't wait for next year's conference.'
The overall satisfaction with the conference averaged 4.8 on a 5-point scale. There were numerous comments on the evaluations about the wide variety of topics to choose from, and the need to provide more time for many of the topics. Some specific comments were:

" The topics were all appealing in different ways. I liked the variety of topics to choose from because I did business and personal workshops."
" Most seminars left unique and interesting thoughts and empowerment."
" The speakers I had were exceptional they made the conference for me."
" My daughter told me about it. It was nice to have a mother-daughter outing! Thanks for all the work to put this on! I enjoyed it."
" The networking potential was HUGE! The value of this wonderful conference cannot be measure exactly as there is no 'dipstick' for the priceless nature of what truly transpired. The myriad of emotions that were elicited were wonderful. Happy, sad, informed, heart strings touched, inspired, encouraged for ag's future, hopeful."

 

March 11, 2005
101 -- Strategic and Organizational Management Development for Iowa's Farm Businesses, 2nd (Jan - March)

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu