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24th Annual Farm Women’s Symposium held in Midland
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The 24th annual Farm Women’s Symposium (FWS) was held during a thawing spell March 11-13, 2015 in Midland, MI at the Holiday Inn.


24th Annual Farm Women’s Symposium held in Midland 

The 24th annual Farm Women’s Symposium (FWS) was held during a thawing spell March 11-13, 2015 in Midland, MI at the Holiday Inn. 135 ladies representing the nation’s agriculture attended this event which is hosted by a different Michigan town since its inception in response to the apple Alar scare back in 1991.

After a local welcome of nostalgic slides by MSU Extension Educators Beverly Przystas (Gladwin Co.) and Lisa Treiber (Midland Co.), keynote speaker Kathy Peterson, PeopleWorks Inc., Storm Lake, Iowa, took the stage.“Working With You is Killing Me” was a demonstration on how to deal with difficult people. Peterson said that being right isn’t as crucial as having the right conversation that will get you the desired results. “Don’t only talk to employees when something is wrong,” she cautioned. A balloon activity showed the extreme result when there are no expectations or criteria given. In her second lecture,”Finding Happiness in the Craziness of Life,” Peterson asked, “Does having money, being married, having children, being involved in farming, make you happy?” She quoted, “We tend to seek happiness, but it’s actually a choice.” She listed things to do to increase happiness.

Jamie Clover-Adams, Director of Michigan Dept. of Ag & Rural Development (MDARD), talked about Michigan’s ag successes—2nd generator of income in the state, increased processing, its MAEAP program—and was appreciative of the ag majors and careers now available to women, comparing how many were steered away from these a generation ago.

Three “Farm Business Panels” discussed their operations: Dave and Mary Moore, from Stone Cottage Gardens, Gladwin; Ned and Jeanette Waibel from Super Bee Apiaries, Bay County; and Joanmarie Weiss, Weiss Centennial Farm’s Frankenmuth Corn Maze.

Wednesday’s agenda concluded with Michigan author Teresa Irish. After the death of her father, Teresa opened his trunk finding 1000 letters he’d sent home to his fiancée and parents during World War II—the catalyst for her compiling the book “A Thousand Letters Home”. The Symposium audience was riveted and often brought to tears with Teresa’s narrative about her father and what he and his fellow soldiers faced on the battlefield. Following her presentation, Teresa’s husband, Lt. Col. Bradley J. Foster, assisted while Teresa signed books.

Thursday’s bus tour stops included the Loons Stadium in Midland, the Ideal Theatre in Clare with a special showing of the movie “Farmland,” the Cops & Donuts Bakery down the block, and the nearby historic Doherty Hotel.

Friday’s agenda began with “Farming and Seed Technology” by Dr. Kelvin Grant, PhD and Attorney at Law, Maize Research Scientist from DuPont Pioneer, who talked about GMOs from the scientific perspective and how to answer criticism. “The bottom line,” he said, “is that without farmers, the population would have no food, no energy to complain.”

A “How To” segment followed, hosted by Chemical Bank’s Karla Smothers and Joanna Kolbiaz, who discussed how to organize financial paperwork, especially upon incapacitation or a death.

The lecture portion ended on a lighter note with comedic entertainer and farm wife Leslie Norris Townsend, Ohio, who gave the audience a hilarious look at marriage, motherhood, and the ideal balancing act that women strive to achieve, often with disastrous results.

Having had an opportunity to renew friendships; to be inspired, educated and entertained, participants left Midland with a renewed energy. Thanks go out to Greenstone FCS in sponsoring a large number of attendees, and to all sponsors and donors. FWS 2016 will be return to Traverse City, where the event started, for its 25th anniversary on March 9-11th. Mark your calendars to attend!  For more information, the FWS website is: www.farmwomenssymposium.com, or search for the Facebook page.