The 2003 Midwest Women in Agriculture Conference has been expanded to meet the needs of women in farming and agribusiness.

"Because we had so many positive responses from last year's conference we've extended this one to two days. One day will focus on personal issues, the second will tackle ag management issues," says Kelly Easterday, Purdue Cooperative Extension service educator in Kosciusko County.

The conference, set for March 11-12 at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind., will feature two keynote speakers, educational sessions and networking opportunities for women in agriculture.

"Women operate 9 percent of American farms, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture, and that number is growing," Easterday says. "They're making more decisions regarding the farm. This conference will help them address personal, family and farm issues."

Kendra Smiley, of East Lynn, Ill., will start the day Wednesday, March 12, with "Being the B.E.S.T. You Can Be," a presentation that teaches women to eliminate weaknesses and strengthen assets. Smiley hosts her own show on the New Life Radio Network and was selected as the Illinois Mother of the Year in 2001.

Ron Hanson, a professor of agribusiness at the University of Nebraska, will end the conference with "The Unspoken Words of a Farm Family." His presentation focuses on things he says are often missing from family discussions, such as words of appreciation and acknowledgment of individual contributions. Hanson has been recognized for excellence in teaching and service to farm families.

In addition to the keynote speakers, educational session topics include:
o Global ag markets.
o Financial security in later life.
o Farming without a spouse.
o The rural/urban conflict.
o To rent or not to rent.
o Farm business software.
o Marketing agricultural products.
o Communication and misunderstandings.

"There is a wealth of learning opportunities available to women who attend the conference," says Easterday. "We've tried to include sessions that will appeal to every woman, whether she's running a farm or working in agribusiness. Eighty percent of the women who attended last year's conference said they planned to do something differently as a result of attending the event."

Purdue Extension is sponsoring the conference for the second year. Day one begins with registration at noon and concludes with the "Taste of Indiana" from 6-8 p.m.

Taste of Indiana allows women to sample some of Indiana's agricultural products and network with other women. The second day starts with registration at 8 a.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m.

Individuals can register for one or both days. Early registration rates are $25 for March 11, $50 for March 12 or $60 for both days. After Feb. 18, all rates increase by $10. On-site registration is $100. Participants must make their own hotel reservations. Rooms are available at Swan Lake Resort by calling (800) 582-7539.

Registration brochures are available online at or from Purdue Extension offices throughout Indiana. You may also check out the conference's Web site at: 

Purdue University Extension