November 1, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

In addition to great workshops and information sessions at the second annual Women in Agriculture Conference, participants will hear from two prominent agriculture speakers.

Former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Cotton Ivy, will address the crowd at lunch on Nov. 9.

Ivy grew up on a small farm, graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree in agricultural education, and served in the United States Air Force. In addition to his political tenure, the retired commissioner has used his gift of humor as a teacher, coach, and salesman. Ivy has been semi retired from UT since 1995, but still serves on the UT Board of Trustees, Tenn. State Board of Regents, Tenn. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Tenn. Farm Bureau Federation.

Journalist Sonja Hillgren will be the keynote speaker for a Nov. 10 morning session. Hillgren has served as editor for the multi-faceted Farm Journal since 1995, the flagship publication of a multimedia company of magazines, newsletters, television, radio, conferences for farmers, as well as a partner in an e-commerce venture known as

"Sonja has spent her career articulating the importance of Agriculture to the public and always recognizes the potential of the American farm woman," said Bonnie Tanner, conference co-chair and assistant director of Extension for family and consumer sciences for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "She always has highlighted the the unsung contributions of women in agriculture."

Hillgren has written about Agriculture since 1978, first for United Press International and then Knight-Ridder Newspapers, before joining Farm Journal. In 1996, she served as president of the 4,500-member National Press Club in Washington, D.C., introducing nationally and internationally-known speakers at luncheons broadcast on C-SPAN and National Public Radio.

Hillgren grew up in South Dakota, then received her undergraduate journalism degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, before going on to be a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She has won numerous journalism awards and currently serves on the board of directors of Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development and of Philabundance, a Philadelphia regional non-profit organization for distributing food to low-income individuals.

One of Hillgren's most esteemed accomplishments was winning the 1998 Oscar in Agriculture for distinguished service.

Organizers of the second annual Women in Agriculture Conference have put together a program that will speak to any agricultural woman in the Commonwealth. Dozens of topics from tourism to tobacco will be addressed. Several members of Kentucky's House of Representatives and Senate will combine their opinions to discuss how women in agriculture are involved in the political process. For questions about the conference or to find out if you can still register, call (859) 257-3887.


Bonnie Tanner 859-257-3887