Dakota Farmer

Ag women stay WILD at annual conference

Slideshow: North Dakota Farmer’s Union Women in Leadership Development attendees convene to discuss ag issues.

Sarah McNaughton

November 24, 2021

6 Slides
Attendants of the WILD conference visit and pose for photos with keynote speaker Michelle Miller,

Women from around North Dakota connect at the annual Women in Leadership Development conference, put on by the North Dakota Farmers Union, to discuss the growing seasons and how to support others in the industry.

“Our goal for our program is to encourage women to step up and be leaders in their community, and have women get out there and be empowered,” says Chelsey Jacobson, NDFU member relations specialist, about the WILD conference.

The day’s events included “The Farm Babe,” aka Michelle Miller, as keynote speaker, leadership and communication activities, a panel of women in agriculture, and craft activities for participants.

“Women in small communities are always involved; they always step up,” says Jane Opdahl, another member relations specialist. “We want to come together and encourage these women to gain strength from each other and support each other.”

Encouraging advocates

Miller shares similar sentiments. “On social media, we have the power to connect with people from all walks of life, and there’s no wrong way to advocate for agriculture,” she says.

Her speech focused on encouraging women involved in agriculture to share their lifestyles and advocate for the industry online. “What are you passionate about? You as women are the most trusted voice, are well respected and carry that legacy through multiple generations of the farm,” Miller says. “Appreciate that, and remember that your story is compelling.”

Participants enjoyed time for small-group discussion around their struggles and triumphs on the farm, and a panel of farm wives and mothers working in agriculture shared their stories:

  • Chelsey Erdmann ranches alongside her family and works as an agriculture influencer, sharing her family’s story online.

  • Jaime Sickler is a business owner and operator of a wedding and event venue.

  • Christina Rittenbach is a North Dakota State University Extension agent for family and community wellness, with a focus on mental health improvement.

To find out more about NDFU’s grassroots work, visit ndfu.org

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications, along with minors in animal science and Extension education. She is working on completing her master’s degree in Extension education and youth development, also at NDSU. In her undergraduate program, she discovered a love for the agriculture industry and the people who work in it through her courses and involvement in professional and student organizations.

After graduating college, Sarah worked at KFGO Radio out of Fargo, N.D., as a farm and ranch reporter. She covered agriculture and agribusiness news for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Most recently she was a 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D., teaching, coordinating and facilitating youth programming in various project areas.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, serving on the executive board for North Dakota Agri-Women, and as a member in American Agri-Women, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, enjoys running with her cattle dog Ripley, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Sarah is originally from Grand Forks, N.D., and currently resides in Fargo.

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