Jenny Rhodes and Shannon Dill, Women in Ag conference directors

February 26, 2024

It was standing room only at the 23rd Annual MidAtlantic Women In Agriculture Regional Conference, held on February 15, 2024, at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. The conference, which has been a cornerstone of the agricultural community since 2001, brought together over 200 women from across the region for a day of inspiration, education, and empowerment, providing attendees with invaluable insights, dynamic workshops, and opportunities for meaningful networking.

The conference began with a session by Mona Thompson, Senior Education Development Specialist, who explored the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in her presentation on "Harnessing Artificial Intelligence." Attendees were treated to an interactive discussion on the basic functionalities of AI and its applications in enhancing day-to-day tasks and expanding communication and marketing.

During the first breakout session, attendees were immersed in a diverse array of agricultural entrepreneurship topics. Led by experts such as Michele Walfred and Tracy Wootten from UDEL, the "Creating Commercials" session empowered attendees with practical skills to craft professional video promos using smartphones and affordable accessories, demonstrating that effective marketing doesn't necessitate a substantial budget. Meanwhile, Dr. Haley Sater from UMD delved into the economic potential of perennial cane berry crops like blueberries and raspberries in the Mid-Atlantic region, offering insights into the considerations, costs, and returns associated with small fruit farming. Liza Goetz from Wildly Native Flower Farm facilitated an interactive discussion on "Marketing Perspectives," challenging attendees to explore the influence of everyday perspectives on agricultural markets and bottom-line impact.

Dr. Nadine Burton, Alternative Crop Specialist for UMES Extension, delivered a compelling presentation on "Strengthening Our Communities through Farm Diversity" during the lunch session. Drawing from her Jamaican roots and her work at UMES, Dr. Burton highlighted the critical role of small farmers in enhancing food security and contributing to local food systems. Her insights resonated with attendees, emphasizing the importance of cultivating specialty crops to meet the diverse dietary preferences and cultural tastes of communities.

The second breakout session offered attendees topics essential for success in the agricultural industry. Led by Maria Pippidis and Laurie Wolinski from UDEL, the session on "Building Resilience by Identifying Character Strengths and Engaging in Positive Communication" equipped participants with techniques, including improv communication strategies and positive psychology fundamentals, to navigate challenges and foster resilience within themselves and their farms. Meanwhile, Phyllis Johnston from Every Body Yoga guided attendees through techniques to improve concentration and efficiency in the "Stretch Your Concentration" session, emphasizing the importance of incorporating movement and breathing breaks into daily routines. Additionally, Emmalea and Jeremy Ernest from Ernest Fruit Farm, along with Helen Raleigh from Story Hill Farm, shared the vital role of meadows in enhancing farm operations and supporting native pollinators, showcasing the intersection of sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship.

The conference concluded with Shelby Watson-Hampton, an influential farm girl, writer, and active member of the agricultural community, who shared her experiences and insights in her session titled "Grace, Grit & Lipstick." Attendees were invited into the world of farm women, gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by women in agriculture. Watson-Hampton's session served as a fitting conclusion to a day filled with inspiration and empowerment.

The success of the event underscores the importance of platforms like the MidAtlantic Women In Agriculture Regional Conference in providing women with the tools and resources they need to thrive in the agricultural industry.

The sponsors for this event included Choptank Electric Cooperative, CommonGround, Crow Insurance Agency, Inc, Delaware Department of Agriculture, Delaware Farm Bureau, Delmarva Chicken Association, First Citizens Community Bank, Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Horizon Farm Credit, King Crop Insurance, Inc, Lancaster Farming, MARBIDCO, Paradise Energy Solutions, Renewal by Andersen, Sunrise Solar, Inc, Syngenta, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, USDA - Farm Service Agency (MD and DE), USDA - Rural Development, Renewal by Andersen.

The MidAtlantic Women in Agriculture program is dedicated to providing knowledge and resources to women who share a passion for agriculture. For more information on the Mid Atlantic women in agriculture program visit: To view photos from this event visit:


Watch the conference commercial created by Breakout Session 1: Creating Commercials