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As I look over my calendar for the next couple months, I find myself in a familiar place, with lots of indoor conferences and symposiums to attend.

The winter season is a good time to catch up on farm meetings and educational programs, and I have a full slate.

On Saturday, I attended the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association’s annual symposium held at the Ohio Agricultural Technical Institute.

Dr. Francis Fluharty, an animal sciences professor for Ohio State University, talked about the growing demand for sheep worldwide and in the United States.

The program included three breakout sessions on sheep nutrition and production, and a dozen or more people were recognized for their achievements within the Ohio sheep industry.

Grains conference

On Thursday, I’ll be attending the Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium in Wilmington, Ohio. Now in its third year, the program draws together commodity leaders from Ohio Soybean Association, and the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. Market conditions are discussed, as well as predictions for the year ahead. Yield winners also are recognized and there’s a decent trade show highlighting new seed technology, fertilizers and anything else that appeals to grain farming.

On Jan. 16, I’m heading for Sandusky, Ohio, to cover part of the Ohio Produce Growers & Marketers Association annual “congress,” — a gathering of produce growers from across the state and some nearby states. I hope to hear more about the federal food safety plan and the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement.

In early March, I’ll most likely be en route to Ada, Ohio, for the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference. This huge gathering of farmers highlights what’s new in seeds and tillage, and sets the bar for the upcoming growing season. Nearly 1,000 people attended last year’s event, from Ohio and surrounding Midwest states. Roughly 60 people gave presentations, including some of the top ag economists and climatologists in the country.

Conference season

There’s also a good chance I’ll be attending some dairy conferences and possibly a few of the organic and small farm conferences over the next several weeks. I half-jokingly call this time of year conference season because there are so many to attend.

When the weather is lousy (and when the crops are finally harvested), it makes sense to spend time indoors learning about the newest and latest in agriculture.

There are a lot of great conferences held in our circulation region and it can be very rewarding to interact with other people in your industry, especially at a time when there’s not much happening outdoors.

And, many of these events offer good coffee and donuts, along with a decent meal at lunchtime!

Spring fever

But, I’ll be first to admit that after about the middle of February, I’m aching to get out of conferences and meetings and into the fields. I can only take so many speeches and handouts, and coffee and donuts, until I need some fresh air. Spring has always been my favorite season and if these meetings were held in spring, I don’t think I could sit still.

It’s been a mild fall, but we’re nearly to the middle of December and the reality is, there’s a lot more bad weather to come before it turns nice. If you get the chance, consider passing some of the time indoors at one of the many great programs that are held each winter. You’ll stay warm, get a good snack and learn a few things as well.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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