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Women in Ag Conference: Eighth annual event promises fun, info, variety

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The eighth annual Women in Agriculture Regional Conference, set for March 11 at the Martin Community Center in Marshall, again promises a full-day of entertainment and information for all.

"Each year after we finish we wonder how we can top that year's conference," said Cynthia Crawford, University of Missouri Extension specialist in Saline County, who along with other committee member, helps plan the conference each year.

However, with increased marketing and word of mouth from previous conferences, they already have over 50 people signed up with over a month to go, according to Crawford, who urged those wanting to attend to register early.

"We are expecting a great turnout," she said.

This year's conference is again filled with a variety of information and fun.

After coffee and registration at 8:30 a.m., the day's keynote speaker will be "Susie O," often called the "Erma Bombeck of Agriculture." Susie Oberdahlhoff is described as "a city-born preacher's kid turned farmwife...who entertains audiences across the country with her wit and wisdom."

After the keynote speaker, attendees will again get a chance to go to four different breakout sessions. However a big change this year is that the popular estate planning session, presented by Saline County Probate Judge Hugh Harvey will be available for all to attend.

"His sessions are so popular that no one else wants to give a concurrent session," explained Crawford.

Harvey will speak in the 1:15 to 2 p.m. session, sharing his knowledge of the latest in tax law changes.

"He will bring us up to date on the latest developments on estate planning," said Crawford.

As always, the other conference break-out sessions will focus on four different tracks, giving conference goers a chance to pick and choose topics of interest to them.

A staple of the conference, the business side of farming, is the focus of the first track.

Takin' Care of Business, kicks off in the 10 to 10:50 a.m. session with Mary Sobba, who will cover leases and business relations. At the 11 to 11:50 session, marketing specialist Beverly Henke will present Marketing 101, giving a beginner course in the "ins and outs" of commodity marketing. From 2:10 to 3 p.m. Toni Dunker will cover "Advanced Marketing," to help polish marketing skills.

Energize your efforts" is the second track offered. It kicks off with Bret Fahrmeier of Fahrmeier Farms in Lafayette County covering strategies for getting started in Agri-tourism. Besides a diversified farming operation, Fahrmeier and his family own and operate Three Trails Winery.

At 11 to 11:50 a.m., Don Day talks about how to do a home and/or farm energy audit to "Reduce the Juice," saving power and money. From 2:10 to 3 p.m. Crawford will cover "When Being Organized is Not Enough."

"Grow It" is the third track, which kicks off at 10 a.m. with "Naturescaping" presented by Nadia Navarrete-Tindall and Sue Bartelette, which will cover landscaping with native plants. They will also have an "on-site" rain garden on display. At the 11 a.m. session Joe Alley and Lauren Cartwright will present "Cost-share for organic farming and trees." They will explain the federal assistance available to area farmers and landowners. At 2:10 p.m. "Downsized Gardens-Supersized Harvests" will be presented by Billie Long. She will show attendees how to grow their own produce by getting big harvests from small garden plots and planters.

This year, one of the tracks will focus on women's health. Titled "A Wealth of Health" it will focus on taking care of body and mind. The 10 a.m. session covers "Women Health Issues" presented by Stacey Winter. She will talk about the latest on weight management, osteoporosis and other women's health issues. At 11 a.m. Lynda Johnson will present "Get Tough with Defense," explaining the emerging research linking Vitamin D with health benefits. At 2 p.m., Johnson will present "Taking Care of You" which will cover mind, body and spirit, giving strategies to deal with challenges and stress.

This year, lunch will be served by Smith Food Bank of Slater, and luncheon entertainment will be provided by folk musicians Cathy Barton and Dave Para, who have entertained audiences across the U.S.

"It's just so fun to see their folk instruments," said Crawford, adding that the duo, which has performed at previous conferences, will be again be playing and singing music of Missouri and the Ozarks. "It just adds to the whole event."

Pre-registration is due by March 1 and will be $12 per person, which includes lunch and conference materials. For registration contact the Saline County Extension Center at 353 South Lafayette in Marshall or call the office at (660) 886-6908.

More information can be found on the internet at www.womeninag.net or by becoming a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/womeninag

Although the conference is primarily targeted for women, men are also invited to attend.

"We always have men who attend and they are also welcome," said Crawford.

Conference attendance has grown each year and in 2010 over 140 men and women from all over Missouri attended the event.

"This truly is a regional event," Crawford said. In past years, attendees have come from 20 different Missouri counties.

Those attending are promised "a really good day meeting women who are just like them" with similar interests including agriculture.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at


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