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Agri-Women connect during annual conference

Photos by Sarah McNaughton Amanda Radke speaking at The Harvest of Knowledge conference
INSPIRE AND CONNECT: Amanda Radke served as the event’s keynote speaker, encouraging women to stand together in difficult times and in support of the agriculture industry.
North Dakota and Minnesota Agri-Women groups convene at the 39th Harvest of Knowledge.

Farm and ranch wives, mothers, supporters, marketing managers and farmers convened Oct. 29 in Grand Forks, N.D., for the 38th Harvest of Knowledge conference.

Harvest of Knowledge is put on collaboratively by North Dakota and Minnesota Agri-Women organizations, as a way to connect the two state’s memberships in fellowship and learning.

“We have to be able to get together and share inspiration and ideas with each other,” says Alisha Nord-Donnelly, North Dakota Agri-Women president. “As women in ag, it can be overwhelming, it can be frustrating, it can get you down if you’re unable to socialize with others who get it.”

The event’s agenda includes an agriculture fair and networking opportunities, presentations from North Dakota State University Extension Agents, a horticulture activity, the importance of knowing elected representatives, and discussion from North Dakota and Minnesota Agriwomen presidents.

The event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions. “It is wonderful to get back together, especially for those who have been on the planning committee for many, many years,” Nord-Donnelly says. “I know it was hard and heartbreaking for them not to be able to connect last year, so we’re making up for it getting everyone back together in 2021.”

Women attending The Harvest of Knowledge conferenceBACK TOGETHER: The Harvest of Knowledge conference was canceled in 2020 due to pandemic concerns, and the North Dakota and Minnesota groups said there were excited to join together again in 2021.

The women serving on the planning committee come from both North Dakota and Minnesota, and include Nord-Donnelly, Donna Ulseth, Michal Sands, Eleanor Peterson, Karen Landman, Cindy Pinta, Myrna Evenson, Judy Keely, Cindy Pulskamp, Evelyn Kilichowski, Marsha VanLaere, Jenna Kyllo and Deb Whalen.

Top ag-vocate shares more

The conference featured Amanda Radke, BEEF magazine columnist, a South Dakota rancher and an ag advocate, as the keynote speaker. Radke’s talk included the importance of connecting with women in agriculture, and how vital community is during difficult times.

“Over and over through the pandemic, we saw people struggling — physically struggling with this virus, economic and emotional tolls added onto existing stress,” Radke said during her speech. “And one of the most important things we saw help was that community, and this community of women here today gives me hope.”

She called on women and all of agriculture to look out for each other. “The last 18 months have been tough on us all — a presidential election which may have family members not speaking, missed traditions, jobs or careers that may be lost, loved ones affected by this pandemic,” she said. “On your way home today, pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and just see how they’re doing.

“Many of us in ag just tough it out and pull up our bootstraps, but we are one big family and need to rally around each other during these uncertain times.”

Nord-Donnelly continued the topics in Radke’s speech by saying, “We have to have this outlet to come together and talk with other women in agriculture about the good times and the struggles we experience.”

Where to join

Both North Dakota and Minnesota Agri-Women organizations are active in their state’s agriculture industries, participating in Ag in the Classroom, Ag Day Baby, and agriculture education at local fairs and events. Minnesota Agri-Women is an affiliate of American Agri-Women, and participates in lobbying nationally in Washington, D.C., on behalf of farmers and ranchers everywhere.

Any women with interest or ties to the agriculture industry are encouraged to join their state organization. For North Dakota women, contact Nord-Donnelly at 701-367-5609, and for Minnesota membership, contact Eleanor Peterson at [email protected].

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