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Inaugural Women in Agribusiness Summit gets rave reviews (9.25.2012)

NEW ORLEANS (9/25/12) – For the nearly 225 women who attended the inaugural Women in Agribusiness Summit here last week at the Hyatt Regency, the content, connections and caliber of speakers and sessions did not disappoint.

Following a gala evening welcome reception for mixing and mingling on Sunday, September 16, the conference opened on Monday with a full-day of content-rich presentations that brought together some of the most talented and recognized women in the ag industry.

Women from all levels across the ag value chain tuned in to hear discussions on transportation and infrastructure, managing volatility in a high-priced commodity market, and how to move forward together as women in agribusiness.

Especially popular were the mid-day breakout sessions – Capturing Career Opportunities in Agribusiness, led by Rhonda Caughlin-Werner, Partner and Agronomy and Seed Recruiting Consultant, Ag1 Source; and Building an Effective and Lasting Network of Women in Agribusiness, led by Mary L. Shelman, Director, Agribusiness Program, Harvard Business School and President, IFAMA.

“This conference was very innovative and inspiring with great networking opportunities,” said Dayre Lashnits, U.S. Commodity Sales Manager from NYSE Euronext, who also said the event was a great place to learn from peers. “It was especially encouraging to hear from CEO-level women who have experienced the same plights in the industry yet have gone on to be extremely successful. I will definitely return to this conference again.”

Speaker Roe Stone, tour outreach manager from Monsanto, moderated a panel on Navigating the Growing Global Agro-Economy and spoke of living during times when technology is used more and more to help find ways to feed the growing population. “We still face many challenges, but agriculture has seen a great deal of change and advancements – in seeds, equipment and agronomics – and we are working diligently [at Monsanto] to secure food security for generations to come.”

With a focus on professional development and mentoring the next generation of women in ag, the conference welcomed more than a dozen college students pursuing ag careers to share in the event. “This was an amazing opportunity – there are very few events where that many women are in one room discussing agriculture and the key roles they play within the industry,” said Megan Davis, a senior at Arkansas State University. “Participating allowed me to gain a different perspective on issues that are affecting agriculture around the world and make important connections for the future.”

Others, like Lina Khouri Bush of The Food Institute, said they liked that the topics covered industry affairs and workplace experiences, and found the town hall discussion format particularly engaging.

“Attending this Women in Agribusiness Summit brought back to me how passionate I am about my career in agriculture,” said Jill Johnson, whose company Cargill was a sponsor of the event and sent 12 women to attend. “It is an awesome and noble goal to feed the world and I enjoyed listening to these top-notch speakers share their ideas on how we can do this. I feel challenged and energized coming out of this event.”

The 2nd annual Women in Agribusiness Summit will be held October 23-24, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minn., and include an expanded program, industry tours and more break-out sessions. Visit www.womeninag.com for updates and follow the discussion on the Women in Agribusiness Group on Linked in. Also see this year’s event profiled on RFD-TV’s This Week in Agribusiness program.


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