Get the most out of conferences


“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

— Thoreau 

Now that winter has set in and most crops have gone dormant, it’s a great time to reflect and catch your breath on a wild and wet 2018. It goes down as one of the wettest years on record in the region, with many cities setting all-time precipitation records. 

As we all start to contemplate improvements for 2019 (I’d like to see some from Mother Nature!), I urge producers to take a look at the opportunities for gathering information, as well as a chance to curb your “cabin fever” during workshop season. 

Over my year and a half plus at Stark SWCD, I have attended many workshops and conferences. Along the way, I have picked up a few tips to get the best use of your time at conferences. 

Conference attendee tips

First tip: Do your prep work. Usually, there is an agenda available before, so you can plan your track for the day. I also usually have a few thoughts of what I’m looking to get out of each talk and if they don’t cover it during the presentation, I’ll bring it up during questions or talk to the presenter afterward.

Also, beware of classroom changes and possible building changes to make sure you get there on time. 

Second tip: Keep it simple. I try to focus on only two or three topics. Sometimes, too much information can be overwhelming to the point where you don’t retain anything. 

Third tip: Take notes and make them accessible, as this will help recall finer details when needed. 

Whether it be at Conservation Tillage Conference (March 5-6 in Ada, Ohio) or at the vast number of different workshops listed in Farm and Dairy, there are plenty of opportunities to hear about the latest research from industry professionals as well as innovative management techniques from fellow farmers. 

You will find that no one has a perfect operation, and we all continue to live and learn, but if we can share our experiences with each other maybe the same mistakes don’t get made twice! 

I think you will be enthused by what farmers are doing around the region. 

Additionally, conferences and meetings are a great way to get the ball rolling and build momentum for your operation. They can help you get over the initial hurdle of starting something new or at least give a vision of what’s possible.

 Whether it be starting cover crops or getting into diverse mixes, seeing and hearing starts the believing. 

Once you’ve had time to reflect and filter through information, it’s time to start a plan for next growing season because as one of my former professors would say “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” His saying had an additional P, but for my article’s sake, I’ll call it the 6 “P”s. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know every plan can go out the window because of changing conditions and Murphy’s Law, but try to take all past experiences into consideration and have a plan B, C and so on…

Don’t forget your local SWCD/NRCS are also here to assist with the 6 P”s as we look to help establish practices to help improve soil and water quality on the farm, while also increasing production.

It’s my favorite part of the job because of the connections and relationships made while knowing our land is being conserved for future generations.


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