Virginia Cooperative Extension is hosting the 2009 Women in Agriculture Conference on Wednesday, May 20, to provide a unique educational opportunity to women involved in Virginia agriculture and agribusiness. This year's theme is "Fresh Ideas for Virginia Agriculture from Farm to Fork."

The conference will take place at the Plecker Workforce Center at the Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Virginia Cooperative Extension has always been about strengthening agriculture in the commonwealth,” said Eric Bendfeldt, conference coordinator and community viability area specialist for Extension’s Northwest District. “We do this by educating and empowering women in agriculture and agribusiness, showing them what resources we have available in Virginia so that they can be well-informed agricultural producers.”

Diana Endicott, owner of Rainbow Farms in Bronson, Kan., will deliver this year’s keynote address. Endicott raises beef cattle, vegetables, grain, and hay on a 400-acre certified-organic farm and coordinates Good Natured Family Farms, a group of natural meat and vegetable producers in the Kansas City area. Endicott was a nominee for the newly created position of White House Farmer. Other speakers include Regina Beidler of Beidler Farm, a member of the Organic Valley Family of Farms in Randolph Center, Vt., and Kay Hollabaugh, a retail market manager for Hollabaugh Brothers Inc., Fruit Farms and Market in Biglerville, Pa.

To preregister for the conference, contact Extension’s Northwest District Office at (540) 432-6029 by Friday, May 15. The $30 registration fee includes lunch. Walk-ins who did not preregister will be charged $50 at the door. Space is limited to the first 200 registrants.

Directions to Plecker Workforce Center: From I-81, take exit 235. Turn west at the top of the exit ramp onto Rte. 256. In a short distance, Rte. 256 ends at Rt. 11. Turn left at the stoplight onto Rt. 11 South. Blue Ridge Community College is a half-mile on the left. You may park at the Plecker Workforce Center using the south entrance beside the Criminal Justice Training Academy.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is sponsoring the event with a variety of key partners and agencies, including Colonial Farm Credit and the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture Innovation and Rural Sustainability.

For more information, contact Cyndi Marston or Eric Bendfeldt at (540) 432-6029.

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