Second Annual Women in Agriculture Conference held in Washington County

Second Annual Women in Agriculture Conference held in Washington County

By Washington County Women in Ag Advisory Board

WASHINGTON, Iowa – Snow, sleet, or ice wasn’t going to stop 70 women from filling the lower level of Dallmeyer Hall at the Washington County Fairgrounds on March 24 for the second annual Women in Agriculture Conference.

“The horrible weather didn’t stop these Iowa women in agriculture from attending the conference.  We were disappointed the weather kept away nearly 30 attendees – but we were thrilled with the conference,” said Nancy Adrian, Washington County Extension Director. “Our speakers shared some great messages for women in agriculture.” 

The theme for the conference was “The Power of You.”  Attendees heard from industry experts and advocates to learn the true power they have to inspire others, implement new ideas, and focus on the future of agriculture.

The conference started off on a humorous note with April Hemmes, who is a fourth generation farmer from Franklin County. Hemmes shared with attendees some of the off-the wall questions she gets asked. She shared the importance of not only being able to share with others what we do in agriculture, but more importantly the why we do what we do. Finding common ground or a common interest can help build a connection with others and trust. 

Following Hemmes humorous start to the conference, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about our food system and how to navigate it from Dr. Ruth MacDonald, professor and former chair of the Food Science and Human Nutrient Department and newly appointed interim senior associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. Dr. MacDonald provided attendees with talking points they can use to answer questions they may be asked regarding food and biotechnology.

Over lunch, Barbara Hall and Kathryn Gamble, author and photographer of the book “Women and the Land” spoke with participants about their journey of writing their book, which features and tells the story of Iowa farmwomen, two of whom were present.

Following lunch, Cristen Clark, author of the blog Food and Swine and a farmer near Runnels, Iowa, shared with attendees the role women have in helping to tell the story of agriculture. Everyone might have a different approach to how they want to help tell agriculture’s story, but the important thing is to not be silent. Cristen helps to tell the story of ag through her passion of cooking and with her blog, Food and Swine. 

The final speaker was Kristine Tidgren, director for the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at ISU. She shared some nitty-gritty expertise on current legal issues such as changes occurring the tax law, affecting the agricultural industry.  Tidgren also provided a quick update on the Syngenta lawsuit and current legal issues surrounding the use of dicamba. 

“Regardless of your involvement in agriculture there was a take away or lesson to be learned from this conference”, said Janelle Johnson, Washington County Women in Agriculture Advisory Board Member. “It is an event that I am confident will continue to provide learning, enjoyment, and networking for many years to come. We are already thinking about plans for next year’s event!”

The conference was hosted by the Washington County Extension and Outreach along with the Washington County Women in Agriculture Advisory Board.  Learn more about upcoming women in agriculture programs and other programs by contacting the Washington County Extension Office at 319-653-4811.

The conference was made possible in large part thanks to: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, The Azariah and Martha Foster Heritage Endowment, Hills Bank, and other local sponsors.


Washington County Extension Service


Contacts:  Nancy Adrian, County Extension Director

Rebecca Vittetoe, Iowa State University Extension Agronomist