From farm to fellowship to forefont: Women seek to gain ground in farm industry

| September 15, 2011

Crowd during panel discussion.From doctors to lawyers, business executives and even TV sports anchors, women are becoming leaders in just about every industry in the United States. But, when it comes to the farming industry, women still struggle to work their way to the forefront.

That has begun to change, at least in the Bluegrass, with the help of the Kentucky Farm Women Field Day, which will host its fifth annual event beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Louisville Zoo. Women from all across Kentucky who are associated with agriculture will come together for this educational day filled with networking opportunities, discussion panels on agriculture and a free Kentucky Proud meal.

“The idea started in 2007 after returning from a John Deere meeting where the major topic was women as decision makers on the farm,” said Jean-Marie Lawson, vice president of marketing at Hartland Equipment. “This event is seen as a great way to help farm women come together for networking opportunities and offer learning stations as they take on roles as decision makers.”

Hartland Equipment is the chief sponsor of the field day. The Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Farm Credit Services and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, among several others, have also contributed sponsorships to help bring this event free of charge to the women who attend.

Hartland Equipment will buy tickets to the Louisville Zoo for the first 300 women who register. With the zoo opening at 10 a.m., all guests of the field day are also invited to visit the zoo for a few hours before the field day begins.

Jean-Marie Lawson speaking at the 4th Annual KFWFD at the Zoo.

Jean-Marie Lawson speaking at the 4th Annual KFWFD at the Zoo.

“We’re proud to be having the field day at the zoo for the third year,” Lawson said. “I’m a huge fan of the Louisville Zoo. And this year we will have two camels coming up to the Oasis Tent to visit before dinner. For the ladies that would like to bring their children with them, the Louisville Zoo team and Jefferson County 4-H will have educational activities for the children to enjoy while the ladies participate in the field day.”

This year’s Kentucky Farm Women Field Day will focus on the buy local/buy fresh food movement.

Women will also have the chance to drive John Deere equipment in the Oasis Tent area and explore various stations that will educate them on animal health and nutrition, food preparation and farm safety, how to become involved in Kentucky agriculture organizations and how to have their voice heard in the political arena.

Speakers at the learning stations will include Louisville Metro Council Members Vicki Aubrey Welch and Marianne Butler, media veteran Kirby Adams and Mac Stone of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“This will be my first Farm Women Field Day, and I’m excited to hear about local food sources, cooking, canning and especially understanding my John Deere tractor better,” said Cissy Musselman, vice-chair of Risk Management Services Corporation and founder of Women 4 Women, Inc. “At the end of the day, this is the kind of event that will build toward improving the overall health and economic stability of our families, neighborhoods, communities and the Commonwealth – not to mention the impact on our environment. It’s a vision that promises great rewards.”

Whitney Carman of the KY Beef Council.

Whitney Carman of the KY Beef Council.

Following the tour of stations, women will dine on a free Kentucky Proud meal featuring pork chops from Marksbury Farm Foods, salad and side dishes from Grasshoppers Distribution, cheese from Kenny’s Country Cheese, and cupcakes from Stellar Sweets.

During dinner, two panel discussions will highlight Kentucky Women Agriculture Leaders and the Louisville Farm to Table Program. Among the Kentucky Women Agriculture Leaders on the panel are Ginny Gruelke, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Council, Karen Woodrich, State Conservationist of the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Sharon Furches, President of the Kentucky Women in Agriculture, Inc., and Corinne Fetter, Director of Expositions at the Kentucky State Fair Board.

The Louisville Farm to Table Program panel will include Sarah Fritschner, Coordinator of the Louisville Farm to Table Program, Todd Clark of Clark Farms and John-Mark Hack, partner of Marksbury Farm Foods. The panels will teach women about the steps of the Farm to Table Program and how they can become better leaders in agriculture.

“The more the women know, the more they can take an active role in the leadership of their operation,” Lawson said. “And as you look across Kentucky agriculture, many women are becoming leaders in many Kentucky agriculture organizations.”

For more information, visit

Schedule of Events

  • Registration at the Oasis Tent entrance: 2 to 3:15 p.m.
  • Early bird door prize: 2:30 p.m.
  • Exhibits open in the Oasis Tent & Ride and Drive John Deere: 2 p.m.
  • Welcome from John Walczak, Executive Director, Louisville Zoo, in the Oasis Tent: 3:30 p.m.
  • Rotate through Learning Stations: 4 to 7 p.m.

Learning Stations

  • *Governmental Relations: How to have your voice matter – Louisville Metro Council Members Vicki Aubrey Welch & Marianne Butler and Joe Cain, Director, National Affairs & Political Education, Kentucky Farm Bureau
  • Women’s Health – Kirby Adams, Former Anchor/Reporter, WHAS
  • Kentucky Proud – Mac Stone, Director of Agriculture Marketing & Promotion
  • Cooking Demonstrations – Alison Smith, Director of Marketing, Kentucky Beef Council
  • Animal Health & Nutrition Tips – Carly Guinn, Nutrition & Merchandizing Specialist, Hartland Equipment’s Southern States Louisville Store
  • Interactive Exhibits
  • Free Kentucky Proud Meal & Program – Kentucky Women Agriculture Leaders & Louisville Farm to Table Program: 7:15 p.m.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at

Photos courtesy of Hartland Equipment

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

Comments (2)

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  1. Jeanine Raymond says:

    I enjoyed reading the article @ the “KY Farm Women Field Day.” I am very thankful of those who have taken their time to plan this event each year. In Jefferson County, there are few known farms. My husband and I are an aquaculture farm, yes, fish ! It has taken us many years to raise our livestock to maturity(12 years), exactly. We are board members of Jefferson County Farm Bureau, not insurance only, like many people think. We are a Farm Federation, of farmers,” a voluntary organization of member families, joining together to solve common problems.” “Farm Bureau is the Voice of Agriculture, contributing to the strength of Agriculture, and to uphold the ideals on which this great nation was founded.”
    Farmers are naturally the protectors of the family, food and the environment, taking great pride in providing the best quality foods for families, all around the world. We are proud to be a part of an organization with great values,leaders and educational opportunities for us to be able to keep producing quality foods for our families, the community families and the world’s families. Please pray for the farm families in our state, not to be over regulated. If this happens, less and less farms, farmers and farming…less and less food produced. Ask yourself…where would our food come from ?
    There are many organizations in our state, trying to keep farming possible and alive…Please support; KY Farm Bureau, KY Farm Bureau Women, KY Farm Bureau Young Farmers, KY Women in Agriculture,KY Aquaculture Association, UK College of Agriculture, KY State University,WK University etc.
    I would like to find out how many farmers are in Jefferson County, to let them know about support and education available to them and how you can be helped to raise you’re products and get them sold into the community, to feed the people. Be a part of the “FOOD CHAIN,” contact me @ for information.

  2. Maury Cox says:

    Great article. Looking forward to the event.