By Debra Davis
The atmosphere was festive and friendly at the annual Women’s Leadership Conference as friends from around the state greeted each other after sheltering at home for much of the past year.
The conference was in Birmingham April 7-9 and attracted 160 Alabama Farmers Federation members who attended workshops and heard motivational speakers. After postponing last year’s conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic, members welcomed the gathering, abiding by social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
“This year’s conference has been wonderful,” said Federation Women’s Leadership Director Kim Earwood. “It has been such a blessing for everyone to be together and come away with refreshed ideas and new information to take back to their individual counties for promoting agriculture.”
Federation President Jimmy Parnell welcomed conference attendees and praised them for their work to promote agriculture and rural Alabama.
“This is the part of our organization that can get things done,” Parnell said at the opening banquet. “We appreciate everything you do for our organization, for your families and in your community.”
The Federation’s Brian Hardin and Mitt Walker gave legislative updates on state and federal issues at the conference.
Hardin, the Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department (GAP) director, discussed state legislation that affects rural Alabama, including rural broadband. He encouraged members to contact legislators and push for increased connectivity for rural areas.
Walker, the assistant GAP Department director, also serves as the Federation’s national affairs director. He discussed ag labor, climate change and partisanship in Washington.
The conference featured workshops on the Instant Pot by Brooke Burks of The Buttered Home food blog; a calendar gardening session by Sidney Phelps, e-commerce director for Bonnie Plants; and proper clothing fit by Brenda Meadows of The Lingerie Shoppe in Mountain Brook.
Karmen Smith of Fyffe, an author and motivational speaker, shared her journey through infertility and family struggles. Attendees also received a copy of her book, “When You Pray Big, Things Happen.”
The closing banquet featured humorist and author Debbie Childers.
The Alabama Farm-City Awards Program luncheon was held in conjunction with the Women’s Leadership Conference April 8.