Women in agriculture challenged to inspire

East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference
Ohio FFA State Officers Mary Buehler and Maggie Hovermale explore careers in agriculture during a breakout session at the East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference at the R.G. Drage Career Technical Center, Massillon, Ohio, March 24. (Katy Mumaw photo)

MASSILLON, Ohio — Nineteen Ohio counties have more than 500 women operators, ten of which are located in eastern Ohio, according to the USDA Census data.

To support these women and others involved in the agricultural industry the Ohio State University Extension hosted the East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference, March 24, at R.G. Drage Career Technical Center. Approximately 75 women attended.

Attendees put into action one of Marlene Eick’s keynote messages, there is always more to learn.

Eick and her husband B.J. own Herdmark Media in Wooster, Ohio, a digital story telling company.


Through personal anecdotes, she shared three messages: There is always more to learn; accept who you are, but expect more from yourself; and enjoy the process of “getting there.”

She asked the audience, including FFA members to seasoned agriculturalists, to help the industry by being a mentor.

“As women in agriculture, what are you doing to encourage and inspire others?” Eick asked.

She encouraged the audience to identify who has inspired them, and to let the person know their impact on their lives and then pay it forward.

Marlene Eick, co-owner of Herdmark Media, motivates the audience during her keynote at the Women in Agriculture Conference. (Katy Mumaw photo)

Eick, a graduate of Ohio State, manages clients for Herdmark Media, helping farms and agricultural businesses connect with customers.

“Many times in agriculture we want to share the science. While it is important, it isn’t what engages and connects with emotions,” Eick said.

Nearly 20 breakout sessions occurred throughout the day, some focusing on personality traits and advocacy and others diving into the science of agriculture, food and natural resources.

Renewable energy

Eric Romich, OSU Extension field specialist in energy development, discussed renewable energy with one breakout group.

Ohio is consistently within the top 10 states in the U.S. for energy consumption, he said, and explained different options for onfarm renewable energy sources.

He encouraged the audience to first thinking about energy efficiency projects and then, once farm is efficient, to switch gears to renewable energy sources.

You might not need as much energy as you think once you’ve focused on efficiency, he said.

He discussed farms in Ohio he has worked with to install such systems, breaking down costs, grants and realistic ideas of one’s return on investment.

For more information on renewable energy systems visit www.energizeohio.osu.edu.


Sandy Smith, OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Carroll County, discussed the veterinary feed directive and how it could impact the small-scale producers and 4-H and FFA livestock projects.

Smith also noted two areas many may not realize are also impacted by VFD; honeybees and fish.

Drugs considered with in VFD regulations are those which are used for both animals and humans. These drugs now need a veterinarian’s prescription to purchase and use.

A VFD can be valid for up to six months, but livestock owners need to keep the paper work for two years.

Honeybees’ inclusion in the directive surprised the audience. Since they are afood-producing insect, at times they need medicine as well, said Smith.

Not many vets specialize in bees. Extension has developed a new site, www.go.osu.edu/VFDforhoneybees. This site lists the medications impacted by VFD and veterinarians qualified to care for bees, she said.

Farm transitions

Ask your children what they want, advised David Marrison, OSU Extension educator in Ashtabula County, as he began to share best practices around successful farm transitions.

“Before you are ready to transition, I challenge you to the 365-day challenge. Teach the next generation one thing every day about the farm or farm management and the next generation should ask you one question. At the end of the year, you will have shared almost 1,000 things and you still won’t have covered everything.”

Marrison discussed the challenges of communication and gave five tips to overcome; hold family business meetings, don’t give mixed messages, set up an advisory board, help each other and express why you appreciate each other.

“How would your communication and planning change if you knew how much longer you or a loved one had to live?” Marrison said.

Additional resources for successful farm transitions are available at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-47


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