I decided to bite on a news release about the annual Women in Agriculture Conference coming up on March 15.
For one thing, it will be held in 28 different locations around the Northwest with the keynote speaker, Heather Darby of the seven-generation Darby Farm, webcasting from Vermont.
Yakima, Prosser and Goldendale are among the conference sites, each with their own activity facilitator.
This year marks the 10th for the conference and the third that organizers from Washington State University will hold at different locations as a way to make it easier for women who have a hard time traveling given the demands of their farms and families.
Last year, 500 women attended in 19 locations, said Margaret Viebrock, a WSU Extension agent in Waterville.
I couldn’t help asking Viebrock what a conference for female farmers would have that a conference for male farmers wouldn’t. I mean, is it really surprising in 2014 that businesses, even farms, are run by women?
This conference has sessions and discussions about work-life balance and more time dedicated to interaction with other growers.
“Women learn differently than men,” Viebrock said. “Women like to network, they like to share, they like to help each other out.”
They also release more details, such as how many cows they have, how many acres they tend, etc., she said.
I haven’t interviewed enough women farmers to draw any sweeping conclusions, but Viebrock may be right about that one. Men sometimes like to keep information to themselves when I ask such questions. Even when they do want to help, they simply aren’t as talkative as women ... usually.
“It is a different breed,” said Viebrock, who owns a cattle and wheat ranch with her husband and daughter. “Not that there’s anything wrong with the other side. We don’t want to be sexist, but women do learn differently.”