Uniting women in agriculture has been one of Jenny Stelmach’s passions since she got in the industry as a college graduate, and now she will have the opportunity to share her passion at the upcoming Women in Agriculture Conference in October.
From October 10 – 12, the organization will gather in the Owensboro Convention Center and have several opportunities to expose the attendants to the many different agricultural opportunities in Owensboro.
Stelmach originally joined the Daviess County chapter of the organization and ultimately went on to serve for over 20 years as the chair of the chapter. She felt it was important at the time, and even moreso now, to find women of like mind in her industry.
When she started in the industry, she said there were a few women in the field, but all had the same passion as her for agriculture. “I went to my first women in ag conference looking to meet some women of like mind and that were in careers in ag, and so I did that and met lots of great women and I stayed involved with them and on the board up until November of last year,” she said.
She said that with since being a member, she has gotten to work alongside and build longstanding relationships with several women throughout the Commonwealth, all bonding on their passion of agriculture. “It has been great to work with any of the women that have come into the group looking for the same thing that I was, and looking to find that common passion, someone to network with and talk to be able to confide in and establish relationships,” Stelmach said. “Someone that’s going through the same kind of struggles or has the same type of questions that they would.”
Now, the representation has grown and there are several women in all different positions across the industry. But that doesn’t make the organization any less important now to her. As time has passed, she notes that she sees more younger women joining and taking part in the programs they offer. The conference has been going on since 1990 and each conference rotates throughout the Commonwealth. The conference has only been held in Owensboro once in 2001. “It’s been great to see the recognition and publicity for what [the local industry] is doing. So we wanted to feature the different things that have happened in Owensboro and the agricultural field since the conference was last held here,” she said.
Stelmach considers the agricultural landscape in Owensboro diverse, and since this will be the first time in 20 years that participants will be able to see the city, she wants to spotlight as many places as possible. By the time the conference is over, guests will have gone to Cecil Farm’s White Chateau, Hayden Farms and Reid’s Orchard. However, that will not be all that they have seen during their time in Owensboro. The committee who planned the conference wanted to ensure that guests saw a variety of local business and organizations in town during their stay. These include touring the Wendell Foster campus and attending a Pure Barre class. With this agenda planned, she hopes the guests appreciate the history of Owensboro’s agriculture, and also the many directions that Owensboro is expanding. “I want them to see that Owensboro has a great agricultural heritage and I also believe that it is a very diverse city,” Stelmach said. “There’s a lot of things going on in Owensboro in the agriculture field as well as economic development.”
In addition to the conference, they are offering childcare for participants. The decision to include childcare was a new addition to the organization in an effort to not deter women from not being able to participate. They are also accepting registrations for more people to attend the conference. To register, head to their website www.kywomeninag.com/annual-conference. OL