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BENTON HARBOR, MI -- Farm Women’s Symposium will be held in southwest Michigan’s Benton Harbor (Hilton Garden Inn) on March 6-8, 2019.  This event is an excellent opportunity for women involved in agriculture to learn, develop valuable networks, renew friendships and provide inspiration for another year in the farming world.
Keynote speaker Katie Dilse from North Dakota will spread a message packed with humor, insights, and empowerment, bringing her life experiences to the stage, as a mom, wife, and business owner in small grains. Her morning presentation called “Life is a Highway—Roll on!” emphasizes a happy life can depend on efficient operation, a little GPS guidance, and keeping an eye on the dashboard. Her afternoon segment will be an interactive workshop called “When the Scale Tips” that calls for balance in what can often be a crazy farm life.
Dann Sytsma from Kalamazoo’s “Improv Effects” will stress collaboration, positive communication, and more efficient problem solving, using improvisational techniques to get attendees loosened up and learning about one another.
The popular Producer Panel returns, with three Berrien County farmers confirmed to give overviews of their operations: Erica Burke of Hillside Orchards; Matt Schilling of Greg Orchards & Produce; and Trevor Meachum, President of Vegetable Growers’ Ass’n.
FWS is fortunate to be able to host three experts about Human Trafficking to give attendees an overview of this subject of which many are unaware. Confirmed to speak are Kathy Maitland from the Michigan Abolitionist Project; former State Senator Judy Emmons; and a trafficking survivor.
On Thursday, the group will tour agricultural and historical locations in the area, including the Sawyer Garden Center, Hop Head Farms, 12 Corners Vineyards, and the North Berrien Historical Museum.
Friday will open with a legislative update from newly elected Pauline Wendzel, from a 4-generation local farming family, who will also talk about her journey to the 79th House District.
A sought-after speaker and source about multiple relationship topics, Dr. Alexandra Solomon of Northwestern University, will cover key principles of thriving relationships, including spouses, parent/child, and friendships, using her ability to connect with audiences across generations and diverse backgrounds.
FWS 2019 will conclude on a light note, with clean and candid comedy about life’s awkward moments from entertainer Denise Gutenschwager of SE Michigan, using her alter-ego, Evelyn Smallbladder.
If you are active in farming or agri-business, or retired but still want to stay involved and connected, or simply want to learn more about agriculture in Michigan, do not miss this wonderful opportunity! While registration is open to everyone, a number of scholarships are available for members of Michigan Corn Grower or GreenStone Farm Credit Services.  For questions about scholarships or the Farm Women’s Symposium, contact committee member Shari Konkel at 231-519-4723.  The registration brochure for the event is available online by visiting www.farmwomenssymposium.com/ or check out their Facebook page.

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