Learn the power of communication at the Women in Agriculture Conference

Whether your farm is limited to an acre or so, or several hundred, plan to attend the fifth annual Women in Agriculture Conference Mar. 19 and learn the power of communication.

This year’s conference will be held simultaneously in 31 cities across five states.

“That’s the magic of telecommunications,” said Margaret Viebrock, director of Washington State University Extension for Chelan and Douglas counties. She’s coordinating this year’s conference.

The Extension has been organizing these conferences for more than 20 years but used to hold them in one location, Wenatchee.

“But people living in the far corners of the state told us they wanted something closer to where they lived, that they didn’t want to have to stay overnight somewhere. So five years ago we broke it up and scattered the meetings all over the state,” she said.

This is the first time a Women in Agriculture Conference has been scheduled in the Tri-Cities. In past years they’ve been held in the Spokane area.

“The problem with scheduling one in or near the Tri-Cities has been finding a facility and a facilitator but now we have both,” Viebrock said.

The conference will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Kylie Gray of Gray Girl Farms near Othello has agreed to lead it.

“She’s attended several conferences and is a fourth-generation farmer,” Viebrock said.

About 650 people attended the conference in 2015, Viebrock said, and she expects more this year because of the added locations.

These conference offers women in the agriculture industry an opportunity to network, to share, to talk and find out what everyone is doing. Whether participants run a small CSA, sell at farmers markets or raise cattle, there’s a message for everyone.

“We built the conferences on take-away messages, information you can take home and put to immediate use,” said Viebrock.

Last year’s conference focused on marketing and the speaker, who sells her products at farmers markets, said she found it was extremely important that she be at the market. People want to meet the person who grows their food. The speaker said she saw an increase in sales every time she attended the market.

“That’s why we build in take-away messages, to give participants something they can immediately apply,” she said.

This year’s topic is communication. The keynote speaker will discuss how different personality styles impact the way we impact with customers, family, business contacts and employees. Women farmers know how to produce their product. Sometimes, however, their communication style makes it difficult to sell that product, motivate an employee, convince a lender or a landlord or get along with family members or a business partner.

You’ll take away new skills that will help you build better teams, improve decision-making and connect marketing to what motivates prospects and customers.

The target audience is primarily women involved in agriculture in some way though men are welcome too. Participants can be actively involved in farming, aspiring farmers or involved in the agriculture industry in some way but not farming. Some may be the spouse who does the books or who has a job off the farm to help support the family and provide health insurance. Some are women enrolled in college agriculture programs.

The cost is $30 per person, and some scholarships are available.

“We also urge people to buy a few extra tickets, we can give out to aspiring farmers,” Viebrock said.

Register online at womeninag.wsu.edu or call 509-745-8531 and ask for a printed registration form. The conference fee includes a light breakfast, lunch, conference materials and a quilted, reusable grocery bag.

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