Participants in the Women in Agriculture virtual conference in March 2016 at the Kenai River Center. (Photo by Janice Chumley)

Participants in the Women in Agriculture virtual conference in March 2016 at the Kenai River Center. (Photo by Janice Chumley)

Women in Agriculture Conference comes to the Kenai

The Women in Agriculture Conference will be coming to the peninsula for its second year this weekend. The one-day virtual gathering for anyone interested in the farming and agriculture industry will take place in Soldotna, Fairbanks, Delta Junction and Palmer.

The event will include 34 video conference sites across Alaska and in Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. This year’s theme is “pump up your financial fitness.”

Heidi Chay is the local coordinator for the central peninsula. She said the conference highlights some of the special contributions women are offering the agriculture industry, but is open to anyone who is interested in farming, no matter what the gender.

“In many parts of the country where there’s rapid growth in new farms, young women are often in the lead,” Chay said. “We’re seeing women retiring from their jobs to go into farming.”

The program will be hosted by the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District and will feature both virtual and local presentations, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending around 3 p.m. at the Kenai River Center in Soldotna.

Virtual presentations will be given by farm economist Robin Reid and farm analyst LaVell Windsor, both of Kansas State University Extension; and Sarah Beth Aubrey, an author and farmer from Indiana. The featured speakers will discuss financial management, cash flow systems and strategies and the value women bring to the farm. In Soldotna, a local panel, including Laurie Olson of Alaska Berries, Carrie Restino of Homer Hilltop Farm and Aryn Young of Blood, Sweat and Food Farms in Homer, will also discuss finances and farming on the Kenai Peninsula.

Chay said the event aims to make business skills and small-farm development skills accessible to young, prospective farmers.

Chay said registration can be made the day of, however, she advises attendees who register last-minute to provide their own lunch in case they RSVP after lunches have been made and allotted.

Registration information can be found at womeninag.WSU.edu. General registration is $35, and agriculture students, farm interns and members of FFA or 4-H pay $20.

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