Conference allows women to interact with and learn from other women
Submitted by: Brandy Brabham,
WVU-Roane County Extension Agent
Women farmers are one of the fastest growing segments in agriculture. Every day, more than 9,000 women are developing and maintaining their own farms and agribusinesses across West Virginia.
Even though that amounts to less than 13 percent of farms around the state, the social and economic impact these women have on their communities is far greater.
Female farmers have contributed more than $62 million to the West Virginia economy, but what really grabs their peers' attention is the compassionate leadership that these women bring to the community.
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 our state's 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. 2-3 at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling.
This 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 conference allows women to encourage other women in an industry where they have not historically been recognized," said Stacey Huffman, WVU Extension Service agent in Mineral County and conference chairperson. "There's never any intimidation among them, only support - especially for brand new farmers. These women know they can do whatever they've decided to do. They just have to figure out how, and that's where this conference comes in."
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 Julia Shanks, chef, entrepreneur and author of "The Farmer's Office" and "The Farmers Market Cookbook."
Another unique feature of the conference is the local farm and business tour, where participants can meet other farmers, and learn how others operate their farm or agribusiness.
"Women have a different perspective on agriculture - more of a social entrepreneurship type of mentality," said Karen Cox, WVU Extension agent in Ohio County and sponsorship committee chair for the conference. "This conference allows women to interact with and learn from other women so they can go back to their communities and continue to grow their businesses."
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 email
The WVU Extension Service provides educational opportunities to local communities through offices in all 55 West Virginia counties. WVU Extension Service's programs are accomplished in partnership with individuals, families, businesses, civic groups and governmental organizations statewide and throughout the nation.