Women’s Agricultural Leadership Conference celebrates 20th year

Stan Wise
Farm Forum


Chanhassen, Minn. – Passion for Progress is a fitting theme for the 2018 Women’s Agricultural Leadership conference which is celebrating its 20th year. This annual conference, coordinated by Minnesota District 11 Agri-Women, includes presentations on a wide variety of topics, including agriculture policy, advocacy, technology, professional development, and marketing. It has become known for its quality programming, leadership development, and networking.

“This year is a milestone in so many ways,” said conference co-founder Doris Mold. “Not only have we seen the event grow in attendance and attract professionals from all over the state and region, we’ve also witnessed an increase in the number of women leaders in the field of agriculture. Furthermore, we have grown beyond the one day of the conference and we anticipate future growth in year round programming that will reach and inspire more leaders. In essence we have become the Women’s Agricultural Leadership Program.”

In 1998, Mold and co-founder Robin Kinney were part of a leadership task force that found that there were not many women in leadership positions in agricultural organizations although there were numerous women agriculturalists. Mold and Kinney decided that something needed to be done to activate more women in agriculture. They formed a committee that started the Women’s Ag Leadership Conference with the first conference held in 1999.

The conference is scheduled Wednesday, April 11, 2018, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, and online registration is now open at www.womensagleadership.org. Interested attendees do not need to work in the field of agriculture.

Breakout sessions during the day-long conference include:

Progressing Women in Agribusiness Panel

  • Wally Palm, global head of seeds quality operations, Syngenta
  • Elizabeth Stephan, global program manager for seeds business improvement, Syngenta
  • Kristine Thompson, director of business integration, CHS Inc.
  • Brittany Ullrich, digital technology manager, Land O’Lakes

Mastering Accountability

  • Shelia Marshman, financial consultant, Cornell University NY FarmNet and associate professor, Morrisville State College

4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge: Helping Youth Explore the Progression of Agriculture

  • Beyond the Farm SOAR team of Olivia Balfanz, Kendra Blaschko, Sydney Mitchell and Amelia Schatz
  • Katie Johnson, extension educator youth development, University of Minnesota Extension

In Pursuit of Progress: Working Across Differences (in Agriculture & Beyond)

  • Amy Smith, assistant professor, University of Minnesota
  • Brandon Roiger, partnership outreach coordinator, College of Food and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota

Canada and the US: Trading Partners

  • Suzanne Cormie, senior trade commissioner, Government of Canada

Talking Farm Policy and 2018 Farm Bill

  • Amber Glaeser, director of public policy, Minnesota Farm Bureau
  • Thom Peterson, director of government relations, Minnesota Farmers Union
  • Lucas Sjostrom, executive director, Minnesota Milk

Tanzenwald Brewing Company: Benefits and Challenges of a Farm to Table Restaurant

  • Jenaveve Pittman, owner, Tanzenwald Brewing Company
  • Denise Herskind, marketing associate, Sysco Corporation

City Girl Gone Ag

  • Myah Walker, quality manager, Sparboe Farms

Fun with Facebook Live: Virtual Field Trips

  • Sue Knott, education specialist, Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
  • Keri Sidle, education specialist, Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
  • Alauna Yust, communications coordinator, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

The Farm Stress Pressure Cooker

  • Meg Moynihan, senior advisor strategy and innovation, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Contact, Connect and Conquer!

  • Robin Kinney, managing director of member engagement, American Farm Bureau Federation

GMOs: Truths and Myths

  • Nancy Wulfekuhle, communications specialist, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative

Managing the Relationship with your Ag Lender

  • Ahnna Compart, senior credit officer, Compeer Financial
  • Amanda Durow, senior credit officer, CoBank

Passion for Sales

  • Teresa McNeal, customer marketing manager, Syngenta

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson will recognize outstanding mentors in agriculture during the 16th Annual Mentorship Awards presentation. The mentoring awards and mentoring program have become one of the hallmarks of the Women’s Agricultural Leadership Program.

The conference begins with registration check-in at 8:00 a.m. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located at 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska.

Major conference sponsors are: AgCounty Farm Credit Services, Compeer Financial, CoBank and Farm Credit Leasing.

For more information visit www.womensagleadership.org.