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Women in Agriculture Conference Sets Out to Break Stereotypes

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When you think of a woman's role out on the ranch or farm, you may not think of them as the business owner, however, recent census data shows that women in agriculture is a growing number.

This week, the Women in Agriculture Conference set out to help women get the skills to compete and survive in the industry, while changing perceptions about women's role in Ag.

"We were always just involved as bookkeepers a lot of times, or a truck driver, where as women now are helping with decision making, and I think that's excellent," conference participant Terri Edeal says.

"[Women in agriculture] are just seen as the women who marry into the business when I'm not married, I'm single and I'm still very much into my family's farm. I help on the farm and I help my dad figure out ways to do things, so I think the misconception is that women aren't really involved as much as they really are," explains participant Lauren Stohlmann.

Although many women are no longer taking a backseat role in their Ag operations, keynote speaker Jolene Brown says it's important that more women stand up for themselves.

"I started today by saying to them: you have to use your spine. They've already used their mind, they will agree to these things that need to be done, they even see the value, but if they don't use their spine and go ahead and stand up and do things - even if nobody else does them - to begin the process, then nothing gets done," Brown says.

In addition to empowerment, the Women in Agriculture Conference provided networking opportunities as well.

"A lot of this conference is about communicating with other people and finding ways to find other people to help you make the changes that you're looking for; so the one thing that I look forward to taking away from this is meeting new people and having new contacts within the industry," participant Kelsi Wertz tells us.

While markets are fairly uncertain, one thing you can count on is that these women are going to make a difference in agriculture.

"It's a little scary not knowing exactly where markets and things are going, but it's also fun and intriguing and it gives you a drive to change things and make things better for the future," says Wertz.

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