October 1st and 2nd was the annual South Dakota Women in Ag Conference. This year’s event was held at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center. About a month after last year’s conference I got a phone call from the WIA President asking if I would be interested in being on the Resource Committee. I was honored to be asked to join this group of talented women leading an organization I believe in.
Being on the Resource Committee means I have an active role preparing for conference and helping to make sure it goes smooth. This is a behind the scenes type of position I like to hold. In addition, this year’s president asked me to be the “unofficial” conference photographer.
Liz is our creative board member. She does a great job coming up with decor to make the conference attendees feel welcome. The jar in the lower right hand corner was one of several that sat on the tables in the eating room.
There were several vendors selling things. Harmony Cream Soaps , Western and Wildlife Artist, , Jewelry maker Jennifer Stomprud, Artist Jodene Shaw at White Owl Wings, K Bar J Leather Company, a local pottery maker and a gal selling caramel apple creations enjoyed attending the conference and interacting with the ladies in attendance.
This year we had three workshops on the 2nd day of conference. Jeff Zimprich, South Dakota State Conservationist filled us in about “What The Buzz About Bees?” is. Mr. Zimprich also talked to us about why pollinators and healthy soils are important to our ranch ecosystem.
Dr. Vecchi, PhD. is a retired FBI Agent and discussed what the “Face of Danger” can look like in everyday life and how vital situation awareness is to our safety. All the ladies learned how to properly use pepper spray and look home a bottle.
The third workshop was presented by board member Ida Marie. She gave us information to get us thinking about “Planning for the Unexpected.” On occasion, life throws us curve balls and when it does we need to know what are considered important documents to have in order and were they are located.
Motivational Humorist, Kay Frances, was our Keynote speaker. Kay shared her ideas about stressing less, living well and kept us laughing about everyday things.
Our last speaker was Leah from FutureCast. FutureCast is a marketing business that studies the habits and strategies of millennials. Leah, a millennial herself, shared great information about the demographics of millennials, how to connect with them and market products to them.
One of the things that makes this conference unique is the time we take time to rejuvenate. The evening activities are one way ladies open up and have fun. For the first time, West River Studio came to do a Wine and Paint Class. The women had a fabulous time painting and sipping Prairie Berry wine.
Every year board member Laurie comes up with a sewing project. This year she had the gals making bags. I’m not sure how rowdy the girls got, but rumor has it they were in the sewing room past 11:00 pm!
Jodene Shaw did a mixed media art class for the second year in a row. Paint, mod podge, paper, ink and quotes all turn into meaningful art under Jodene’s guidance.
This year’s pay it forward project was “Warm Hearts ~ Warm Hands.” Attendees were encouraged to donate cold weather accessories of hats, scarves and gloves. Over 100 individuals (men, women and children) will receive a bag with necessities that will help keep them warm this winter.
The ladies also had the opportunity to relax with a ten minute message.
Board members work hard to gather donations, silent auction items and door prizes. Everyone who attended conference got to take home a plant donated by several NRCS districts across western South Dakota. The money raised by the silent auction goes to scholarships. 2015 was the fist year WIA sponsored two women at the conference. We had several applicants and two young women passionate about ag attend the conference free of charge. At the end of conference we noticed most ladies had to make multiple trips to get their loot out to the car. Thank you to all that donated money, prizes, auction items and bid at the silent auction.
I am a South Dakota Women actively involved in Agriculture. I can make a difference in rural america through education and networking. I will take time to take care of myself by spending time rejuvenating with women passionate about an industry I love.