One hundred agricultural producers gathered recently to learn, network and have some fun at the 17th annual Women in Agriculture Conference. This year’s theme, “Leaders: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” led participants through an evening and full day of information on how to lead while promoting agriculture.

The conference began with “True Colors” presented by Cheryl Goar, Executive Director of the Arizona Nursery Association and Project CENTRL Board of Directors president.  Forty five “Aggies” attended this interactive workshop that had an artful blending of education and entertainment.  

The keynote speaker this year was our very own Sherry Saylor, vice-chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, Arizona Farm Bureau Ex-Officio, and cotton, wheat and alfalfa farmer in Buckeye.  Sherry’s humor, knowledge and leadership abilities motivated attendees to become leaders of today and forever!

First Vice-president Tim Dunn was on-hand to welcome and commend attendees for their continued support of Agriculture. “Everyone here has the opportunity to reach out to our neighbors, someone at church or co-worker and start a conversation about agriculture,” Dunn said.  “We can create advocates for agriculture, one person at a time.”

“Sticks and Stones can Break my Bones but Words WILL Define Me,” was a thought-provoking session by Lauren Scheller, Arizona Beef Council Director of Consumer Marketing and Public Relations.  A clever presentation, “Getting to Know and Feeling Comfortable with The Leader in You” was presented, by Bryan Chadd, 4-H Extension Agent, UA CALS Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County.

The Awards luncheon held a special tribute to the 4-H Centennial while recognizing outstanding past and present 4-H leaders in Arizona.

After the awards presentations, Hickman’s Family Farms Glenn Hickman gave an encouraging and insightful talk to attendees about keeping your ag advocacy light and entertaining without putting someone on the defensive.

In the afternoon, a panel of leaders told us about their style of leadership and how they managed to balance the right amount of management and leadership skills. Janice Bryson, member of the Arizona Cowbelles and historian, moderated “Don’t Dream in Secret: How Leaders Cast Their Vision.” 

“Now’s the Time to Lead” was expertly done by Stefanie Smallhouse, second-vice president of the Arizona Farm Bureau.  Stefanie tied it all together and challenged attendees to take that extra step to talk about agriculture, promote the truth and reach out into your community.

Editor’s Note: A big thank you to this year’s conference sponsors: Hickman’s Family Farms, our annual sponsor. Other sponsors include: Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, AmeriGas, Arizona Beef Council, Arizona Ford Dealers Association, Arizona Dept. of Agriculture, Arizona Milk Producers, Arizona State Cowbelles, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farm Credit Services SW, Milling Machinery, Inc, Sanderson Ford, UA College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, and Western Refining Wholesale, Inc.