MANHATTAN, Kan. - Women have always been an integral part of American agriculture but never more than today. The "Women Managing the Farm Conference," Feb. 13 and 14 in Manhattan, Kan., will provide educational and networking opportunities for women involved in key facets of the industry. The conference, with the theme this year, "The Heart of Agriculture," begins with registration at 8 a.m. on Feb. 13, and adjourns at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14. All activities will be held at Manhattan's Hilton Garden Inn.
"The conference being on Valentine's Day lends an immediate connection to women's hearts," said Janet Barrows, vice-president of marketing and communications with Frontier Farm Credit, and Women Managing the Farm Conference chair. "Women really are the heart of agriculture. They are at the heart of business matters and often keep families connected. They are often in agriculture either because they love agriculture or love someone who is involved in a farm or ranch."
The event's Thursday luncheon speaker will be Gregg Hadley, Kansas State University assistant director of agriculture, natural resources and community development. Hadley, who is also the conference co-chair, said the event will aid women in meeting challenges and capturing opportunities. He cited a backdrop of an ever-increasing world population, decreasing arable land, shrinking freshwater reserves, a rural exodus and many other complex issues facing rural families as they prepare to pass on their agricultural tradition to a new generation.
"The next 25 years could be the most opportunistic and the most challenging for Kansas farmers and ranchers," Hadley said, noting that the conference is designed to give participants the knowledge needed to overcome challenges and prepare their family and farm or ranch to seize the opportunities agriculture will offer in the future.
Mitch Holthaus, well known as the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, will present "The Heart of a Champion," the veteran broadcaster's life-changing prescription for self-healing cardiac care. Clinical psychologist and New York Times best-selling author Harriet Lerner will share her expertise. The internationally renowned lecturer is one of the world's most respected authorities on the psychology of women and family relationships.
Having traveled a life-road that has included being a cowboy, carpenter, minister and, more recently, a writer, photographer and speaker, Rick McNary will share with attendees his thoughts on leadership, faith and life, art and creativity. The author of "Hunger Bites," McNary also founded an organization that provided food relief in Haiti. Networking sessions during the conference will connect women with similar farming roles to provide a shared learning experience for participants. From women who share farm responsibilities and tasks equally with husbands or partners to absentee landowners and women who are involved part of the time or only in certain areas, the networking sessions will deliver a learn-from-each-other experience.
Breakout sessions will tackle diverse but specific issues such as financial, business management, legal and communication topics. Each session will feature experienced professionals who will share their expertise and insight. The conference will also feature vendor exhibits. For information about sponsorship and exhibit opportunities, call 785-532-5569.
The early bird registration fee for the Women Managing the Farm Conference is $145 prior to Jan. 30. After that date, the registration fee will be $170. More information and online registration is available at http://womenmanagingthefarm.info. A printable registration form is also available at that site. Phone registrations can also be made by calling 785-532-5569 or 800-432-8222. For a complete conference schedule and agenda, go to http://womenmanagingthefarm.info. Room reservations can be made by calling the Hilton Garden Inn at 785-532-9116.