The Manitoba farm women’s conference has become a deep tradition in Manitoba, with a second generation now sending their daughters.
That’s because it’s stayed true to its role providing networking opportunities and resources rural and farm women need, say conference attendees.
Tracy Chappell, who farms and runs a seed company with her husband at Hamiota, had a young family at home and couldn’t get away for a few years, but was back in 2013 — and glad to be, she said.
“My mom has been coming for probably as many years as there’s been a farm women’s conference,” said Chappell. “It’s a way to connect with other farm women. You meet different women with different farming experiences, and find out the ways they handle things.”
Deloraine-area farmer Brenda Gilson recently retired from teaching, and was a first-timer to the MFWC this year. Gilson said she got so much out of it, she’s put it on her calendar for 2014.
She attended a panel session on social media marketing, and workshops on human resource management and good mental health. She learned a lot from each, Gilson said. She’s also appreciated meeting so many other women who farm in Manitoba.
“We’re all in the same profession but we’re doing a lot of different things,” she said.
Throughout the year attendees also stay in touch through the MFWC’s Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter sites. Addresses are found on the conference website at www.manitobafarmwo mensconference.ca.
Professional home economist Ann Mandziuk, who retired this year from her job as rural leadership specialist with the Department of Agriculture, chaired this year’s conference with its 2013 theme of From Farm to Fork to Facebook.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout of 107, and saw quite a few first-timers, said Mandziuk.
Much has changed since that first conference, she said, noting advances in communications technology, and how computer hardware would have filled a granary back in 1986.
But farm women continue to recognize the importance of connecting with others, and this conference remains an important networking event, Mandziuk said. Organizers hope the ideas and resources gained at the conference continue to help women in their farm, family and community life, she added.
“I always say I hope they’ll take home one thing that they can use,” she said.
Chappell’s mom, Fran Dickenson of Waskada, hasn’t missed many conferences since the first in 1986, and says it’s because she always goes home with something valuable.
“I’m not really savvy with the computer, but I’m learning,” said Dickenson, who is also an active member of the Manitoba Women’s Institute.
“But when I come to these gatherings, there’s always something to take back to give to others. I’ll often say, ‘I found this out at the farm women’s conference,’ or, ‘I got that idea, or that pamphlet from there.’ That’s what I keep coming for.”