Across the nation, more women than ever are taking the lead when it comes to agriculture. In West Virginia, over 13,000 women are diligently working to develop and maintain their own farms and agribusinesses – which contributed more than $200 million to the state’s economy in 2017.
As female involvement in West Virginia’s agriculture industry continues to grow, West Virginia University Extension Service’s Women in Agriculture team recognizes that the responsibility falls on their programming to help fulfill the needs of these women farmers, innovators and entrepreneurs.
Key to accomplishing that goal is the annual West Virginia Women in Agriculture Conference. This year’s conference will be held on Nov. 15-16 at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia.
The Women in Agriculture Conference is not your typical conference. It’s specifically designed to offer an affordable opportunity for women to learn and share in a supportive, welcoming environment.
“This year’s educational program has something for everyone,” Jennifer Ours Williams, WVU Extension Service associate dean for programs and partnerships, and education committee chair for the conference. “From emerging opportunities to planning for the future, this conference provides these women with useful training that will help their agricultural endeavors grow and thrive.”
During the conference, women have the chance to network with other farmers and agribusiness owners. They will learn from speakers in small group sessions, as well as larger settings, including the keynote address from Mary Elizabeth “M.E.” Yancosek Gamble, chair of Fairmont State University's performing arts department and an associate professor in the School of Business.
“When women are able to meet and reconnect with other like-minded women in the agriculture industry, it gives them a renewed confidence and shows them that they’re not alone,” Emily Morrow, WVU Extension Service agent in Jefferson County and conference co-chair said. “At this conference, our attendees are able to experience this unique culture made up of women who are there to lift up and learn from one another.”
Another unique feature of the conference is the local farm and business tour, where participants can meet other farmers, hear about their successes and also learn from their mistakes.
Youths also are welcome to attend the conference alongside the female farmers in their family. Interactive learning activities will be available to youths of all ages, giving them a chance to have fun with agriculture, too.
More information and registration for the conference can be found at https://extension.wvu.edu/conferences/wia.
A limited number of scholarships are available for previous Annie’s Project participants or if there is a financial need. For more information, contact Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service agricultural economics specialist, at 304-293-7606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general questions regarding the conference, contact conference chair Stacey Huffman at 304-788-3621 or email@example.com.