The important role women have in agriculture — the state’s largest industry — was highlighted at the annual Women’s Leadership Conference sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation April 6-7 in Birmingham.
Nearly 250 members attended the meeting, including Lolita Smith of Sumter County, who said it was her second time to attend the annual event.
“I’ve enjoyed all the conference, and it’s nice to attend something completely catered to ladies,” she said. “We learn a lot about agriculture, which we all have a passion for, and it helps make me a better spokesperson for our industry.”
The conference began with massage therapy demonstrations, shopping and aluminum pop tab collections from county Women’s Leadership Committees. Blount County topped all counties by turning in 165 pounds of tabs that help raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses in Alabama. Collectively, the group hauled in 737 pounds for the charities.
The opening banquet included a welcome and words of gratitude from Federation President Jimmy Parnell.
“I know if we want something done in this organization, this is the group to ask,” Parnell said.
Farm wife and humorist Susie Oberdahlhoff of Missouri entertained members at the banquet with funny stories about farm life and finding happiness through life’s challenges.
Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey said the annual conference helps emphasize the important role women play in agriculture and in the state’s largest farm organization.
“Our conference is designed to motivate and educate our members about the influence they have on their families, their farms and the future of agriculture,” Ramsey said.
The second day of the conference began with breakfast, which included a side order of politics with state and national legislative updates. Morning workshops had programs on sun safety and Alabama Ag In The Classroom activities. Additionally, Betty Sims, a cookbook author and culinary school director, along with Patricia Barnes, founder of Sister Schubert’s Rolls, shared their philanthropic endeavors and recipes for a successful life.
A luncheon that day merged with the Alabama Farm-City Awards program, where many conference attendees were honored for their roles in county programs. The convention ended that evening with a performance by the Samford University A Cappella Choir.
For photos of the conference, visit the Federation’s Flickr page.