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Farm Women's Symposium set for March 4-6

 GAYLORD, MI -- The 29th annual Farm Women’s Symposium will be held in northern Michigan’s Gaylord (Treetops Resort) on March 4-6, 2020. 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 Jeanne Bernick from Iowa, consultant at national accounting and finance firm K·Coe Isom, will first discuss “What Women in Ag Want”, giving examples of women changing agriculture and tips on empowering, that should provoke both learning and laughter, as things don’t always go according to plan. Her afternoon segment will reflect experiences in her 20-year career at Farm Journal Media and while traveling abroad.

Cadillac’s GFCS crop insurance specialist, Ryan Kratochvil, will talk about “Crop Insurance—Is it Worth It?” and discuss the roller coaster that was 2019 and provide a glimpse into 2020. “A Farm Wife” blogger, farmer, and FWS committee member Diane Reed Loew, Byron Center, will lead an interactive segment “I Never Knew That About You” designed to weave strands of friendship and foster support through the attendees.

Local young farmers Ben and Alison Sklarczyk, Johannesburg, will talk about their seed potato farm that grows approximately 6 million potatoes annually, shipping all over the world. Alison, also the lab’s manager, named 2019 Spudwoman of the Year, will lead a demonstration of tissue culture cutting. MSU Extension Health Educator, Tracie Abram, St. Ignace, will present “Mindful Laughter”, an interactive, fun-filled, and impactful session that uses mindfulness to help reduce worry, depression, and tension, while discovering the therapeutic benefits of laughter.

On Thursday, the popular Bus Tour will showcase agricultural and historical locations in the area, including Kitchen Farms; Gaylord’s City Elk Park; Alpine Chocolat Haus; and Alpine Maple Farms.

Friday will open with a legislative update from 105th District Representative Triston Cole (R-Mancelona). Kate Pigott, from MI Agricultural Mediation Programs, Lansing, will talk about how she connects farmers and families with resources to deal with challenges. Ashley Messing-Kennedy, blogger/farmer/mom, Bad Axe, will discuss her challenging last year, how she found strength in sharing her story, and provide tips about using social media.

“Anti-Bullying and Transforming Schools and Communities” is the concluding presentation from the Rachel’s Challenge organization, Colorado. Rachel Scott was the first victim in the Columbine school shooting tragedy in 1999—her journals provided the impetus for her parents to start this mission to make schools and communities safer.

A number of scholarships are available for members of Michigan Corn Growers or GreenStone Farm Credit Services. For questions about scholarships or the Farm Women’s Symposium, contact Shari Konkel at 231-519-4723. More information is available online at or on Facebook.