in Agriculture' conference set
Ky., event offers
unique networking opportunity
Helen E. McKinney
NEW CASTLE, Ky. (February 2003) A growing concern
among many women about the future of Kentucky agriculture prompted the
formation of an organization called Kentucky Women in Agriculture. This
month, the group has scheduled a series of conferences on a variety
of subjects to be held in Lexington, Ky.
Kim Henken, Extension Associate for Environmental Issues at the University
of Kentucky College of Agriculture, said two women involved on a national
level instituted the conference series. Dr. Bonnie O. Tanner,
assistant director for Family and Consumer Sciences with the UK College
of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, and Alice Baesler worked
to organize the Kentucky Agricultural Womens Leadership Network
in spring 1999.
Tanner and Baesler also organized the first Kentucky Executive Committee,
which consists of 29 women who are agricultural leaders from across
the state. The result of their efforts was the first conference held
in November 1999.
This years conference, Cultivating Dreams and Harvesting
Profits, will be held Feb. 27-28 at Lexingtons Embassy Suites
Hotel on Newton Pike. Registration is limited to the first 300 respondents,
with a $60 fee due by Feb. 7.
Baesler said the concept of Women in Agriculture developed after several
women from Kentucky attended an International Meeting of Women in Agriculture
in Washington, D.C. It was decided that Kentucky needed to organize
Bonnie and I took on the challenge along with an outstanding executive
committee, Baesler said. I think there are many opportunities
for women to fit into the many niche market that will be needed to make
up for the lost tobacco income.
Maryellen Garrison, Henry County Home Economic Extension Agent, said
she has attended three of the conferences. She said the goals of the
programs are to assist in developing the entrepreneurial spirit
in women ag leaders and to help them learn new ways to expand ag markets,
to assist women in making the family farm profitable and to provide
information on national issues facing agriculture.
This is a big undertaking, but the women already have their feet planted
firmly in the ground. The 2001 Taproots Conference provided teams of
leaders the opportunity to develop leadership skills, in addition to
designing projects that would address certain issues. Both Henry and
Trimble counties had teams in attendance, said Garrison.
The women are encouraged to think big and not limit themselves to the
state in which they live. In May 2002, nine women traveled to Cuba on
a fact-finding mission to explore the possibilities of selling Kentucky
agricultural products to Cuba. This seven-day stay led to the establishment
of a trade pact for the purchase of $7 million dollars in Kentucky products,
Current Commissioner Billy Ray Smith is scheduled to attend, as will
panel moderator Terry Gilbert, chair of the womens committee of
the American Farm Bureau. Luncheon speakers will include Jean-Marie
Peltier, counselor to EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman. Peltier
balances agricultural and environmental issues in her position as central
contact for the EPAs cooperative efforts with the USDA in matters
of joint policy.
Kentucky entrepreneur Donna Salyers will also be a guest speaker. She
began her business, Fabulous-Furs, with a faux fur sewing kit in the
basement of her Covington, Ky., home. By pursuing her vision, Salyers
desire to succeed has now become a $7 million, multi-channel business.
For more information contact Garrison at (502) 845-2811, Kim
Henken at (859) 257-5482, or visit: www.kywomeninag.com.
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