The 22nd annual MidAtlantic Women in Agriculture Regional Conference brought together over 120 people to learn about new developments in farming, leadership skills, and problem solving for female agriculturalists.
Dr. Megan Seibel, Director, Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) and Centre for Cooperative Problem Solving (CCPS), Virginia Tech., opened the conference with a discussion about finding her “giants” or role models, through different stages of her career. She led the group in an activity in defining what leadership means to women, and how that often differs from men. Additionally, Seibel shared tools for finding the balance between work and family -- an important issue for many women pursuing agricultural careers.
Held annually since 2001, the Women in Agriculture conference also featured Darlene Goehringer of Pop’s Old Place, a Century Family Farm located in Dorchester County, Md. The Goehringers raise grass fed and finished beef, lamb, woodland pork, and free range laying hens, selling products directly from their on farm market. Their goal is to produce nutritious, and delicious food for their family and community, while focusing on soil health, animal welfare, and environmental stewardship, said Goehringer during her talk. Goehringer shared her journey of transitioning from off-farm employment, the partnerships she had made with other organizations to grow her business, and reflected on successful marketing techniques and how she has learned from others.
The day-long event concluded with a session hosted by Nikko Brady, Director of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs for the State of Delaware. Brady works to build local food supply chain capacities and enhance Delaware’s food system. In this role she has also launched the First State Food System Grant Program and expanded Delaware’s Farm to School Program, allowing small scale producers to enter new markets in Delaware. Brady discussed how vital women are worldwide in the development of agriculture. She stressed the importance of policy as a tool in agriculture production and the supply chain, as well as the importance of younger generations in agriculture.
The annual Women in Agriculture conference is a combined effort of University of Maryland Extension, University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers, along with a planning committee consisting of organizations and private industry. The conference goals are to provide women involved in agriculture an opportunity to come together to learn about current issues and topics so they can make informed decisions concerning their agribusinesses and family lives.
The sponsors for this event included Choptank Electric Cooperative, Common Ground Mid-Atlantic, Crow Insurance Agency, Inc., Delaware Farm Bureau, EnSave, Inc., Future Harvest, Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Horizon Farm Credit, LEAD Maryland Program, Maryland Agricultural Conflict Resolution Service (Acres), Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO), M&T Bank, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture program is dedicated to providing knowledge and resources to women who share a passion for agriculture. Click here for more information on the Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture program.