Nebraska Women in Agriculture Celebrating 35 Years

Cornhusker Economics March 25, 2020
Nebraska Women in Agriculture Celebrating 35 Years

By Jessica Groskopf

A crowd of almost 300 gathered together February 20 and 21 in Kearney, Nebraska for the Nebraska Women in Agriculture conference, with the theme — Celebrating 35 Years!

The conference is one of the longest-running women's conferences of its kind in the country. The goal of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference is for women to build relationships with each other while gaining valuable knowledge about managing risk on their farms and ranches. The event featured 5 general session speakers and 35 workshop sessions.

Photo of Jane Green speaking from a podium
Nebraska Women in Agriculture Co-Founder, Jane Green, welcomes participants.

The keynote speaker this year was Michele Payn, author and founder of Cause Matters Corp. Michele discussed mental health in her talk “Resiliency for Agriculture: Surviving the Darkest Storms.” She noted that farmers die by suicide at nearly twice the rate of the general United States population. She provided tools to reduce stress, proactively manage mental health, find the meaning beyond work, and find help.

Amanda Radke, author and BEEF Magazine blogger, discussed being a part of a multi-generational operation. She highlighted the challenges and rewards of working with both “millennials” and “boomers” while raising the next generation.

The capstone speaker was Jo Bek of Curtis, Nebraska. Jo shared her story as a Nebraska Woman in Agriculture through her talk “Grit and Glue.” Jo inspired attendees to take a minute to laugh when faced with adversity. Jo discussed the role of accepting challenges with faith and humor.

Conference attendees also heard from Lauren Eberspacher, Anita Keys, and 34 other workshop speakers.

Photo of three women studying handouts
Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference participants practice their crop scouting skills, during one of the 35 workshops offered at the event.

People attending the conference represented a wide variety of agricultural backgrounds .and demographics. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents identified as female, resided in Nebraska and identified as white.

On average, participants had attended the conference 5.4 times, owned 734 acres of land, and leased 926 acres of land. Figure 1 shows the roles, and ages of those who attended.

stacked bar graph
Figure 1: Age, Roles, and Race of 2020 Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference attendees

Participants noted that they enjoyed the opportunity to network and spend time with friends and colleagues, all the while discussing issues important to their farms and ranches. To help participants during these challenging economic times, the conference continues to focus on risk management topics and tools to help attendees make profitable business decisions. Sessions covered risks in production, marketing, financial, human and legal areas. Training opportunities ranged from crop and livestock insurance to recording keeping and using financial documents to succeed.

One of the goals of the conference is to heighten participants’ skills and knowledge. Over 480 workshop session evaluations were submitted during the 2020 conference. Survey respondents were asked how the workshop had affected them by selecting a series of statements to complete the sentence “This workshop __________”. The response options and percentage of survey respondents for each option are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Impact of workshop session statement results. 1
...increased my knowledge about the topic. 86%
...encouraged me to find out more about this topic. 56%
...improved my skills/ability. 47%
...empowered me to develop a plan to address this topic. 41%
...increased my confidence in my ability to influence key decision makers. 31%
...increased my confidence in my ability to make a decision myself. 32%
...validated my/our current practices. 30%
...encouraged me to change my/our current practices. 27%
1Based on workshop session results available at the time of publication. (March 19, 2020 n=481)

The future success of the conference depends on continued funding from supporters. This year’s conference was funded by the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Farm Credit Services of America, Nebraska Corn, Reinke Manufacturing, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, Heartland Farm Partners, American National Insurance Company, and Nebraska Farm Bureau.

There were various other agricultural businesses, organizations, and government entities who participated as booth exhibitors.

For more information on this conference and the Women in Agriculture, program see our webpage, or follow us on Twitter, @newomeninag and like us on Facebook,

The 2021 Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference is scheduled for February 18-19, 2021 at the Kearney Holiday Inn Convention Center.


Jessica Groskopf
Associate Extension Educator
Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 308-632-1247