Making Connections: Women in agriculture gather in Worland for annual symposium
Women gathered in Worland Nov. 9-10 for the 30th Annual Wyoming Women in Agriculture (WWIA) Symposium. WWIA is a nonprofit organization providing information on current topics important to women in the agriculture industry.
WWIA recognizes and supports women in agriculture by providing a support network and up-to-date industry information. Through annual symposiums, which feature educational workshops and information sessions, women in agriculture can acquire the tools necessary to improve their industry management capacity.
This year’s symposium included Keynote Speaker Brandi Buzzard, various breakout sessions, suicide prevention training and local agricultural tours.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered closing remarks to end the two-day event and recognized the women in attendance with a Congressional Record certificate.
This year’s keynote speaker at the event was Brandi Buzzard Frobose, author of “Chronicles of a Cowgirl.” Buzzard is a cowgirl, rancher and agriculture blogger from southeast Kansas. She is also a wife, mother and the co-owner of High Bar Cattle Company.
Buzzard is no stranger to agriculture, as she attended Kansas State University and has been writing and promoting the ag industry while tackling agricultural issues since 2009. She has appeared on television, podcasts and radio, advocating for the ag industry and consumer awareness and has years of experience in public relations and crisis communications.
“I created my blog, Buzzard’s Beat and have written hundreds of posts defending agriculture,” Buzzard stated. “For more than a decade, I have been writing and speaking out about the rural lifestyle and being an active voice addressing critical issues in agriculture which affect our everyday life.”
“We need to be advocates for the ag industry, as many individuals don’t even know where their food comes from,” Buzzard explained. “Today, food marketing campaigns are based on fear, and we need to change this through building trust and being authentic with individuals we interact with.”
“Trust. It’s a small word, but it has a strong meaning,” she added. “It’s critical for us to defend our industry while gaining and retaining trust.”
She continued, “To preserve our land and livelihood we need to get out of our comfort zone and stand up for agriculture by using trust as our driving force.”
Buzzard ended her keynote speech with a presentation on social media tips and tricks. She helped the audience identify their niche and target audience, create authentic content and build a network by utilizing social media platforms.
Over the two-day symposium, attendees had the opportunity to attend various breakout sessions.
While food preservation has existed for centuries, WWAI Secretary Traci Faxon coached the group through elements of canning with a hands-on training session on canning jalapeño peppers.
The attendees also had the opportunity to learn first aid in the field or attend an ag financing session.
Wyoming Business Council (WBC) Regional Director Kristen Fong and Owner of the Double Rafter Ranch Dana Kerns presented on Wyoming agritourism. Kerns spoke to break-out attendees on how the Double Rafter Ranch incorporated cattle drives to generate supplemental income, but the addition ended up promoting Wyoming agritourism.
“The Kerns family are generational ranchers, and we are blessed to graze our cattle in the Big Horn Mountains. But, we have also been blessed to share it with the world for over 30 years,” Kerns stated.
Fong discussed WBC’s approach to economic development and how they are available to assist in breaking down barriers for local business owners and to help craft solutions.
“Agribusiness and recreational income have more than doubled from 2012, according to the 2017 National Census Report and Wyoming is ranked sixth nationwide,” Fong stated.
In 2022, the Wyoming Department of Health recorded an 18 percent drop in suicides from 2021, according to recently released figures. Mental health professionals are relating this decrease in suicides to Wyoming’s efforts of having open conversations around mental health.
Attendees at the WWAI Symposium had the opportunity to learn more about suicide prevention and how to identify an individual in need.
Individuals trained to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer (QPR) someone to help are QPR certified.
“We can have helpful conversations, which are unbelievably powerful in letting people know it’s okay to go get help,” stated Chad Reznicek, behavioral health specialist with the Colorado AgrAbility Project.
Reznick educated the women in attendance on the QPR mission – to save lives and reduce suicidal behaviors by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training.
QPR believes in quality education to empower others, regardless of their background, to make a positive difference in the life of someone they know.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.