|By VICKI JOHNSON
GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — A humorous message about keeping farm life in perspective and an overview of an educational program for farm women were the highlights of the 13th annual Women in Agriculture Conference March 17.
About 140 women from 13 Ohio and Michigan counties attended the conference at Nazareth Hall near Grand Rapids, Ohio.
Bob Wells, field specialist in farm management from Iowa State University Extension, provided background on Annie’s Project, a six-week course designed to help farm women learn the business side of farming.
Wells said the program isn’t available in Ohio, yet; but he’s hoping Ohio State University will begin to offer it.
As keynote speaker, Jo Bek, professor of animal science at Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, shared humorous stories about life on her family farm. She encouraged women to laugh often and not to let worries overtake their lives.
She gave women some exercises to help combat stress. She also encouraged them to learn to be better farm management partner and better risk managers from Annie’s Project if classes become available.
“If you have the basic tools, you’re going to do as well as the big boys do,” she said.
Doris Herringshaw, Ohio State Univer-sity Extension agent in Wood County, said many women come back to the conference year after year. She noted that some women are starting to attend with their daughters and granddaughters. For example, one three-generation group was from the Fostoria, Ohio, area. Bonnie Baldwin and her daughter Linda Naderer attended with Linda’s daughter Jessie Naderer, a student at Lakota High School.
“Sometimes they (women) tend to forget that other people share their concerns,” Herringshaw said.
“It’s a niche that isn’t met anywhere else,” she said. “We always go away feeling energized and ready to start the spring planting.”
The favorite part of the program for Megan Emch, a freshman FFA member from Otsego High School near Grand Rapids, was a session on stress relief.
“It was really informative,” she said.
“I thought the humorist was the best part,” added Kacey Podolak, also a freshman at Otsego.
Debbie Belleville, the FFA advisor at Otsego, said she takes the female FFA members to the Women in Agriculture Conference each year.
“It encourages the girls to choose an agriculture-related career,” she said. “It’s a good learning experience.”
Nicki Von Stein of Jenera, Ohio, said she’s been attending the conference for many years.
“It’s just nice to go and do something with other women like me,” she said. “It’s just a nice day to get away with people who are in the same situation.”
She said she and her husband both farm full time without outside jobs.
“There aren’t too many people like us left,” she said.
Von Stein said she learned the law regarding visitors and trespassers on their property during one of the sessions she attended.
“That’s the thing we’re always worried about,” she said.
Phyllis Crawford, a participant from Napoleon, Ohio, said she’s been attending the conference for 10 years and has made new friends.
“We always have a good time and you learn something, get new ideas,” she said. “You get to see some of the ladies you’ve seen here before.
“You leave feeling good about yourself and you hear a humorous person that let’s you know you’re important,” she added.