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WIA Conference Agenda

Friday, November 18

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. -  West Virginia Agri-Women Fall Quarterly Meeting

10:30 – 11:45 a.m. -  Conference Registration for Tours; Exhibitor Check-in

Noon – 6 p.m. -  Pre-conference Farm Tours

Buses depart promptly at noon. Don't be late! Boxed lunch provided to tour participants.

6:30 – 8 p.m. - Dinner and Networking Activity

Saturday, November 19

7 – 8:15 a.m. -  Exhibitor Booth Setup

7 – 11 a.m. -  Registration

7 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. -  Youth Activities Planned for Entire Day

7:30 – 8:30 a.m. -  Breakfast

8:15 – 10 a.m. -  Welcome and Keynote Address

Celebrating Agriculture
Keynote Speaker: Michele Payn, Cause Matters

Michele will help you stand up and celebrate the people, promise and passion in our business. Laugh and cry while celebrating work from the farm gate to the consumer plate. Find inspiration for agriculture from one of our own. You'll find new "fighting moves" that will get you thinking about our opportunity for the conversation around the plate in this keynote. 

About the keynote speaker:

Michele Payn, a certified speaking professional, connects the people and science of food and farming as principal of Cause Matters Corp. She is known for being a community catalyst, a passionate advocate for global agriculture—and antagonizing people into action. Michele has worked with farmers in more than 25 countries, raised more than five million in sponsorships for the National FFA Foundation and founded AgChat and FoodChat on Twitter. She has written three books, including the number one best seller, Food Bullying; Food Truths from Farm to Table, an IPPY bronze medal winner; and No More Food Fights! Michele holds degrees are in agricultural communications and animal science from Michigan State University. She also earned a CSP designation, awarded to less than 10% of professional speakers globally. She resides with her 'city slicker' husband and cow-loving daughter on a small farm in central Indiana. She enjoys Registered Holsteins, the MSU Spartans, and making memories with friends around the table. Michele connects conversations around the food plate at www.causematters.com and socially through @mpaynspeaker.

8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. -  Exhibitor Booths Open to Participants

10 – 10:30 a.m. -  Visit Exhibitor Booths

10:30 – 11:20 a.m. -  Farmer Highlights Joint Session

Producer Stories: Every Step Counts
Speakers:  Margaret "Maggie" Page, Woodside Farms; Jessica Hall, Harmony Harvest Farm; Tara Helmick, Anathoth Livestock Farm; and Jennifer Okes, Okes Family Farm

West Virginia producers in all areas of agriculture will share the important first steps they took toward meeting their farming goals. Each producer will share a little of their story, and the audience will have opportunities to ask questions. 

About the speakers:

Margaret "Maggie" Page is seventh generation farmer from Burlington, West Virginia in Mineral County. She, along with her family, operates Woodside Farms, LLC, which includes 60 purebred Angus, 40 commercial Angus, and 20 replacement heifers. The weaned calves are sold with the Hampshire County Calf Pool, and selected bulls are consigned to the Wardensville Bull Test. Margaret focuses on increasing the efficiencies of their cow herd and reducing costs by using rotational grazing for more than 10 years. She also participated in Annie’s Project and attended multiple Appalachian Grazing Conferences. When she is not working on the farm, she is an elementary school teacher in Hampshire County.

Jessica Hall is the horticultural mastermind and visionary behind Harmony Harvest Farm. She studied horticulture at Virginia Tech and is a chapel-trained floral designer. As a farmer, she’s committed to sustainability, and as a designer, she’s inspired by unharnessed creativity. With more than 15 years in the industry, Jessica is driven by the belief that “Fresh Flowers Rule.”

Tara Helmick grew up outside of Morgantown, West Virginia on a commercial beef cow/calf operation. She later attended WVU where she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master's degree in agriculture. Tara and her husband, Aaron, started their low-input seasonal grazing dairy operation in 2010. After 10 years in dairy, the Helmick family decided to transition to a sheep operation with Anathoth Livestock Farm in Monroe County, West Virginia, which currently operates on 600 acres and includes a 600 head hair ewe flock, a feeder lamb enterprise, and a complement of various cattle classes at different times of the year. The farm is run by Tara, Aaron and one other employee.

Jennifer Okes owns and operates Okes Family Farms in Cool Ridge, West Virginia, with her husband, Kevin. They have two children, Abigail and Austin. The farm has been in Kevin’s family since 1914. His grandparents and parents primarily raised beef. Jennifer grew up on a farm in Roane County where her family raised beef, sheep, pigs and grew truck crops. After visiting an agritourism operation in Indiana, Kevin and Jennifer wanted to add pumpkins and a corn maze to their farm. They started the pumpkin patch in October 2005. Designing field trips that would be educational and fun was a top priority along with being open to the public on the weekends. The farm currently is open from mid-September through the end of October. There are plans for expansion into other areas to bring visitors to the farm at other times of the year. Jennifer oversees the scheduling of all field trips and parties, most of the hiring and all details of the weekly stocking, purchasing and selling of products.

11:20 – 11:30 a.m. -  Morning Break | Visit Exhibitor Booths

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. - Breakout Session 1

Livestock and Forages Track:
Tools for Grassland Management
Speakers: Daisy Bailey and Brandy Brabham, WVU Extension Agents

Learn about some of the tools and equipment that can help you better manage your grassland. The session will be held outside.

About the speakers:

Daisy F. Bailey is the WVU Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Gilmer and Calhoun counties. Daisy attended the University of Kentucky, where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant and soil sciences. Raised in Kentucky on a commercial cow/calf operation, sheep and tobacco farm, Daisy’s farming experience is diverse due to the many agriculture enterprises her family farm was involved in producing. She and her husband currently raise Hampshire influenced sheep and are in the process of transitioning toward a rotational grazing management system.

Brandy Brabham is the WVU Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Roane County. She received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and natural resources, and a master’s in organizational and corporate communications. Brandy has a strong statistical and marketing background from her previous work with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Her educational emphasizes is on sustainability and profitably for existing, underserved, and beginning farmers. She conducts training on risk management, leadership, and advocacy, as well as Extension methods for crops, agribusiness development and marketing. She serves as a member of the WV Women in Agriculture team and has served on many state conference planning committees including the Small Farm Conference, Farm Opportunities Day, and the inaugural WV Women in Agriculture Conference. She and her husband, Terry, and their two sons, Garrett and Wyatt, live on a family farm where she has been involved in burley tobacco production, specialty crop production and bell pepper contract growing. She and her family now focus on raising beef cattle, hay and honeybees.

Horticulture Track:
Taking the Guesswork Out of High Tunnel Fertigation
Speaker: Lewis Jett, WVU Extension Commercial Horticulture Specialist

Dr. Jett will discuss the step-by-step process of managing fertilization of high tunnel crops.

About the speaker:

Dr. Lewis Jett is associate professor and WVU Extension horticulture specialist with an emphasis in commercial, horticulture crops. A native West Virginian, Dr. Jett’s research and outreach programs include methods to lengthen the traditional growing season and expand locally grown production of fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables. Other areas of research include seed production, seed saving, native vegetables and fruits, no-till production and organic horticulture.

Finance Track:
Collaborating to Improve Your Farm's Bottom Line
Speaker: Hannah Scott, The Ohio State University

Raising crops and livestock, managing farm finances, and all the other work it takes to run a successful farm, are big tasks. Add in the work of marketing your own farm products and it can seem overwhelming. Collaborative and cooperative approaches to marketing farm products may be opportunities for producers to save time and resources or enter new markets, and of course, improve their bottom line. Learn about approaches like multi-farm CSA, producer marketing cooperatives, and co-selling products along with the considerations for farmers who are thinking about using these approaches.

About the speaker:

Hannah Scott, JD, is the program manager of the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State where she leads the creation and implementation of programs and assistance to foster cooperative and rural business in Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond. She is passionate about cooperative opportunities in agriculture and rural communities, having worked with a variety of agricultural producers who established co-op enterprises and leading the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network and the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative. She has a master’s degree from The Ohio State University and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati. Hannah’s family operates a diversified farm in southern Ohio where she helps as she is able.

Young Agriculturists Track:
Growing Memories at Okes Family Farm
Speaker: Jennifer Okes, Okes Family Farm

Jennifer Okes will discuss her farming background and how their successful agritourism pumpkin patch, Okes Family Farm caters to families making memories.

About the speaker:

Jennifer Okes is owner/operator at Okes Family Farms in Cool Ridge, West Virginia, with her husband of 19 years, Kevin. They have two children, Abigail and Austin. Her husband is an agricultural education teacher at Shady Spring High School.

The farm has been in Kevin’s family since 1914. His grandparents and parents primarily raised beef. Jennifer grew up on a farm in Roane County where her family raised beef, sheep, pigs and grew truck crops. Kevin and Jennifer wanted to add pumpkins and a corn maze to their farm and were told they were crazy. They started the pumpkin patch in October 2005. The decision to take this adventure came from a few visits to Huber Family Farm in Starlight, Indiana. They did not have any kids yet and wanted something like that back home for families to enjoy with their kids. Designing field trips that would be educational and fun was a top priority along with being open to the public on the weekends. A few years into it everyone decided they were not crazy.

School field trips are Jennifer's favorite part of the pumpkin patch. She loves to see the kids enjoy outdoor activities that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to do. The farm currently is open from mid-September through the end of October. There are plans for expansion into other areas to bring visitors o the farm at other times of the year. Jennifer oversees the scheduling of all field trips and parties, most of the hiring and all details of the weekly stocking, purchasing and selling of products.

Kevin and Jennifer look forward to seeing everyone at the farm each fall. It makes for some amazing family memories. She personally loves to see families that come every year because you get to watch their kids grow. They like to say, “We aren’t selling things; we are selling memories to last a lifetime.”

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. -  Lunch

1:30 – 2 p.m. -   Visit Exhibitor Booths

2 – 2:50 p.m. -  Breakout Session 2

Livestock and Forages Track:
Zoonotic Disease – Human and Wildlife Interactions
Speaker: Sheldon Owen, WVU Extension Wildlife Specialist

Zoonotic diseases – those that can be transmitted from animals to humans or vice-versa -- can have major implications for livestock producers. Dr. Owen will share information about some of the zoonotic diseases that have a wildlife component and implications for livestock producers.

About the speaker: 

Sheldon Owen, a native of Mississippi, received a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife management from Mississippi State University, and a master’s degree in forest resources from the University of Georgia. Sheldon continued his academic career at West Virginia University where he earned his doctorate in forest resource science. He served as a wildlife disease biologist for the National Wildlife Disease Program within USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services in South Carolina and then as a supervisory wildlife biologist for the South Carolina Program of Wildlife Services. Sheldon serves as the WVU Extension wildlife specialist where he conducts outreach and education programming along with applied research related to wildlife habitat management and wildlife damage management.

Horticulture Track:
Navigating the Floral Industry
Speaker: Jessica Hall, Harmony Harvest Farm 

Jessica will discuss her family farm business, Harmony Harvest Farm, and how they have found success in the floral business.

About the speaker: 

Jessica Hall owns and operates Harmony Harvest Farm, a 20-acre cut flower farm located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They ship mixed bouquets and bulk flowers nationwide. The farm is owned and operated by sisters Jessica and her sister, Stephanie Duncan, and their mom, Chris Auville, or as they like to call her, “The Lady Monarch.” While shipping flowers isn’t a new concept, Harmony Harvest Farm has pioneered flower shipping directly from the fields to the end consumer in the U.S. A Certified American Grown farm, they grow nearly 400 varieties across 100 different types of flowers including anemone, ranunculus, peonies, hydrangea, dahlias, and heirloom mums. Though the farm is currently closed to the public, the business is expanding in 2022 with the opening of an on-farm shop and pick-your-own garden.

Jessica is the horticultural mastermind and visionary behind Harmony Harvest Farm. She studied horticulture at Virginia Tech and is a Chapel-trained floral designer. As a farmer, she’s committed to sustainability, and as a designer, she’s inspired by unharnessed creativity. With more than 15 years in the industry, she is driven by the belief that #FreshFlowersRule.

Finance Track:
You Can't Change What You Don't Measure – Managing Farm Finances for Sustainable Future
Speaker: Tara Helmick, Anathoth Livestock Farm  

Whether you are farming with borrowed funds or your own savings, heading into  a farm venture without some degree of planning is like setting sail across the ocean without a  map. You are likely to run into bumps and twists that can derail your venture and cause you to  lose your investment. Many farmers struggle to make their farm operation profitable without  driving themselves into the ground, and still managing the delicate balancing act that all farmers  must succeed: balancing healthy profits with happy customers. This session will help you  u nderstand the importance of taking the “big picture” approach to having a small, profitable  agribusiness, and how to build profit into your plans up front, rather than hoping there is  something left over once expenses are paid. After this session, you will have armed yourself with  some basic risk-management strategies to aid your farm decision-making and demonstrate to  you and your family that your ideas are feasibl e.

About the speaker: 

Tara grew up outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, on a commercial beef cow/calf  operation. She later attended WVU, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in agriculture. She and her husband, Aaron, started their low-input seasonal grazing dairy  operation in 2010. After 10 years in dairy, the Helmick family decided to transition to a sheep  operation with Anathoth Livestock Farm in Monroe County, West Virginia. This operation  operates on 600 acres and includes a 600 head hair ewe flock, a feeder lamb enterprise and a  complement of various cattle classes at different times of the year. The farm is run by Tara,  Aaron, and one other employee.

Young Agriculturists Track:
Identifying Your First Steps
Speakers: Kelsey Flinn McFarland, Clay County Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor; Allison Tomlinson, WVU Extension Agent; and Sara Wayne, Wayne Cattle Company 

The key to success in any career is hard work. Our panelists are great examples of how hard work and dedication can allow you to have a successful career and a fulfilling family life. Through a variety of perspectives, our panelists will share key things you should consider as you choose your career path, what they wish they’d known when they were getting started in their agricultural careers, and some of the important lessons they’ve learned along the way.

About the speakers:

Kelsey Flinn McFarland received a B.S. in Agriculture and Extension Education from West Virginia University.  Kelsey was an active member of Ravenswood FFA, competing as a member of the 5th place Homesite Evaluation team in the National Contest and of the state winning Grassland Evaluation contest.  While At WVU, Kelsey remained active in Collegiate FFA and received her American FFA Degree. Currently, she is the Agriculture Science teacher and FFA Advisor at Clay County High School, where she shares her love for agriculture and the FFA with her students.

Allison Tomlinson grew up in Monroe County and was an active member of 4-H and FFA. She is an alumna of both WVU and Virginia Tech, having received degrees in animal science from both universities. She thought when she returned to Monroe County, she would die an old maid. Turns out she was wrong. After getting married, she transitioned from farming full-time to a part-time job as a WVU Extension agent with an appointment focused on tourism, something she wasn’t formally trained to do. For Allison, it has been fun and challenging to promote and develop tourism in a county with no stoplights or fast-food restaurants, and more cows than people.  I n addition to her work with Extension, Allison also is raising kids and cattle. She works alongside her father and brother in their cow calf and stocker operations of Angus cross cattle and a smaller set of purebred Angus and Hereford cows. She and her husband, Andy, run an agriculture, forestry and lawn equipment business, Legacy Land and Lawn Equipment in Union. Most importantly, she’s raising her kids, Tessa and Tully, to be stewards of the land.

Sara Wayne and her husband, John, established Wayne Cattle Company in 2008. Since November of 2009, agriculture has been their sole source of income. What began as a cow/calf herd, has grown and expanded to include pre-conditioning cattle, developing replacement heifers for southern U.S. markets, marketing hay to local feed stores, custom grazing, selling freezer beef and marketing their local beef in their retail store. In 2021 they purchased a processing facility to further diversify their income and to guarantee processing availability for their wholesale and retail meat sales. She is always on the lookout for new ways to diversify their agriculture ventures. Sara is a 4-H club leader, a member of her county Farm Bureau, and serves on the state Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. She lives on a farm in Braxton County, West Virginia, with her husband and two very active young boys.

2:50 – 3:15 p.m. - Afternoon Break | Visit Exhibitor Booths

3:15 – 4:05 p.m. -  Breakout Session 3

Livestock and Forages Track:
Lessons Learned in Efficiency from a Seventh Generation Farmer
Speaker: Margaret “Maggie” Page, Woodside Farms

Maggie will discuss the lessons she’s learned from growing up as a seventh-generation farmer and using rotational grazing practices.

About the speaker:  

Margaret "Maggie" Page is seventh-generation farmer from Burlington, West Virginia, in Mineral County. She, along with her family, operates Woodside Farms, LLC, which includes 60 purebred Angus, 40 commercial Angus and 20 replacement heifers. The weaned calves are sold in the Hampshire County Calf Pool, and selected bulls are consigned to the Wardensville Bull Test. She focuses on increasing the efficiencies of their cow herd and reducing costs by using rotational grazing for over 10 years. Maggie also participated in Annie’s Project and attended multiple Appalachian Grazing Conferences. When she is not working on the farm, she is an elementary school teacher in Hampshire County.

Horticulture Track:
Sustainable, Regional Food Systems: What We've Learned from the Pandemic
Speaker: French Price, Value Chain Coordinator, Virginia Cooperative Extension  

French will discuss her work with Virginia Cooperative Extension as a value chain coordinator, the lessons learned during the pandemic and how to network and build relationships to promote a more regional food system.

About the speaker: 

French Price is a value chain coordinator with Virginia Cooperative Extension working to enhance farm-to-market connections across the Commonwealth. French’s main responsibilities include networking and building relationships with colleagues, businesses and community partners to create a more sustainable, regional food system. French is equipped with a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and a master’s degree in leadership for global sustainability from Virginia Tech. She is a Shenandoah Valley native blessed by a large family with agricultural roots. While agriculture teaches French that there is always work to be done, her family reminds her about the importance of taking the time to appreciate the land, our food, and each other.

Finance Track:
Looking into the Crystal Ball – WV Farmers Market Price Forecasting
Speakers: Candace DeLong, WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent; Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Agribusiness Economics Specialist; and Lisa Jones, WVU Extension Small Farm Center Program Coordinator 

WVU Extension is developing a farmers market price reporting system for the state. There is currently no price reporting system that exists in West Virginia, but this system does exist in nearby states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Ohio, as well as many others around the country. Prices at farmers markets are often uncertain and producers face risks due to price variability. Learn how this price reporting system will give farmers a valuable tool in analyzing their cost of production with the potential price point of their products.

About the speakers: 

Candace DeLong is a WVU Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Hampshire County, West Virginia. She received her master’s degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech where she completed her research in pomology at the Alson H. Smith AREC in Winchester, Virginia. After graduating she worked in the apple industry before starting her job with WVU Extension. Candace works with all types of agriculture in Hampshire County, but especially likes working with school gardens and the local farmers markets.

Dee Singh-Knights is an associate professor and WVU Extension specialist. She specializes in agribusiness management with the goal of contributing to sustainable agricultural production systems through research, teaching and Extension education. Dee believes that there are enormous opportunities to increase production of and demand for locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for agribusiness operations serving local and expanded markets. She works to help operators capitalize on these growing opportunities, while managing the resultant business risks.  

Lisa Jones is the program coordinator for the WVU Extension Small Farm Center. During her more than seven years with the Center, she has secured more than $3 million in federal and state grant funding for agricultural projects and programs to benefit small farmers across West Virginia. She also organizes the annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference, which is the largest agricultural education-focused event in West Virginia that welcomes 500+ attendees each year. The conference includes more than 100 sessions and uses locally grown ingredients for all meals and snacks. Prior to working for Extension, Lisa managed the state’s most successful farmers market for four years and aided in the growth of sales to almost $500,000 annually. She resides in Morgantown, West Virginia, with her husband and toddler.

Young Agriculturists Track:
Getting a Step Ahead with Internships
Speaker:  Jennifer Friend, WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

Internships are a valuable tool to gain real-world experience while still in school. They can help you in getting a step ahead prior to joining the workforce, or even change your plans when you discover a certain area or line of work is not for you. Jennifer will share her experience with internships and how they help her in the career she has today. 

About the speaker:

Jennifer Friend received her bachelor’s degree in agriculture and Extension education from West Virginia University and attended Colorado State University through their distance education program and received a master’s degree in Extension education. She taught high school agriculture education in Nicholas County before joining WVU Extension as the agriculture and natural resources Extension agent in Harrison County. Her educational programming focuses on horticulture, livestock production, youth agriculture and financial literacy. Jennifer’s love for agriculture began at a young age, and she continues to be involved in her family’s cow/calf and sheep operation.

Schedule is subject to change.