January 16, 2003 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Cultivating Dreams and Harvesting Profits is the theme of the 2003 Women in Agriculture Conference scheduled for February 27 and 28 in Lexington.

Participants will have the opportunity to hear two powerful and diverse speakers in addition to concurrent sessions about marketing, the Farm Bill, Risky Business and topics Beyond the Farm Gate, and popular round-table commodity discussions.

Kentucky entrepreneur and owner of Fabulous-Furs, Donna Salyers, is the featured speaker for the closing lunch. After a mini fashion show, Salyers will reveal "Five Fabulous Tips for Entrepreneurs…What I Wish I Had Known."

Beginning with a faux fur sewing kit and working in her basement, Salyers built Fabulous-Furs into a $7 million, multi-channel business. Since she lacked a business background and investors, Salyers first targeted the sewing market before moving on to selling ready-to-wear apparel to high-profile customers in the entertainment industry.

While constantly reinventing her Covington, Ky. based mail-order business, she has created a catalog, Internet business and two showrooms which have been the subject of stories in The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine and US Weekly Magazine.

"We're very lucky to have Donna Salyers speak at the conference," said Kim Henken, conference planning committee member and Extension associate for environmental/natural resource issues at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "She is a perfect example of what someone can do when they have a vision and desire to succeed in a business venture."

Also confirmed to speak at the conference is Jean-Marie Peltier, counselor to the administrator on agricultural policy for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C.
Peltier was appointed to serve as the central contact for EPA's cooperation with the USDA in matters of joint policy, including pesticide issues.

Peltier has spent her career as an advocate for agricultural interests on the California Citrus Council, California Pear Advisory Board and the California Pear Growers Association. She also served on the Codex Alimimentarius Commission, which is run by two United Nations agencies and has been referred to as the World Trade Organization of food.

"Jean-Marie knows how important the balance is between agricultural and environmental issues," Henken said. "She knows how to bring agricultural issues to the environmental table and I think conference participants will enjoy hearing her speak."

Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet those who have declared their intent to run for the office of Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture. Current Commissioner Billy Ray Smith will be on hand to greet the panel and Terry Gilbert, native Kentuckian and chair of the women's committee of the American Farm Bureau, will serve as moderator.

"I think it's important for the women at the conference to be informed about the candidates," Gilbert said. "They need to know where the candidates stand on important agricultural issues so they can cast informed votes."

Each candidate will be allowed to give an opening statement, followed by Gilbert asking each of them to answer the same two or three questions. If time permits, conference attendees will be allowed to ask questions.

The 2003 Kentucky Women in Agriculture Conference will be at the Lexington Embassy Suites Hotel on Newtown Pike. Registration is limited to the first 300 respondents and is due with a $60 fee by February 7. Make checks payable to The University of Kentucky. Send your registration form and check to Kim Henken, Family and Consumer Sciences, 233 Scovell Hall, Lexington, KY 40546-0064. Be sure to mention you are with the conference when making reservations at the Embassy Suites by January 26 to ensure the group rate.


Kim Henken  859-257-5482