WSU Women in Agriculture Conference postponed for 2021

The 2021 Women in Agriculture Conference has been postponed  due to the health restrictions and safety requirements placed on events due to COVID-19.   
According to Margaret Viebrock, WSU Extension Director in Chelan and Douglas Counties and Conference Coordinator, “this was a hard decision to make, because this event is a very popular gathering for women involved in agriculture.”  
It is the largest event in the Northwest that addresses the needs of women farmers, aspiring farmers and women who support their family farms.  
The Women, Farms & Food project began in Washington in 2005 with Washington State annual conferences offering speakers, practical advice, collaborative discussion, and networking opportunities.  During the last 15 years this program evolved to a six-state conference presented through Zoom technology to as many as 40 locations with 650 women participating.  
Since the first conference, the planning process has always been women-driven.  It is primarily planned, facilitated, and taught by women.  The focus groups, planning teams and evaluations have and continue to say, “we want to meet and talk with other women farmers, find out more about what they do and how they manage their lives and we need good information to be successful.”  Women farmers face unique challenges with the demands of both the farm and family. Equally important is the challenge to take care of themselves and, potentially, to care for extended family.
“Many attendees say this is the best conference for women farmers, because it presents practical information they can use right away,” Viebrock said.  
Program evaluations over the years have shown that women farmers have developed their farm vision to meet their financial, marketing and production goals.  They have improved their financial record keeping, now have a business plan and follow it, developed marketing skills, and can now use their financial records to analyze their profitability.  
Farming is risky business and women farmers benefit from the support of other women.  Many conferences has switched to a totally technology-driven event, and  Viebrock added, “I felt we could not fulfill the major objective of offering women an opportunity to network as they have consistently said is one of the main reasons they attend. Sitting together, sharing ideas and personal concerns, and offering solutions could not be accomplished virtually.  
To stay connected with this program and other women in agriculture, women are encouraged to visit the website at www.womeninag.wsu.edu and add themselves to the Constant Contact list and join the Women in Ag conversations on social media.
Many area farm businesses, women employed in the agriculture industry and financial instructions support the conference with their contributions to scholarships, speaker stipends, educational materials, and conference meals.  
Businesses interested in supporting the 2022 conference and other educational opportunities for women farmers are encouraged to contact Viebrock at viebrock@wsu.edu.

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