NORFOLK, NE – A signature event sponsored each year by Northeast Community College has marked a milestone.
Back in 2009, Corinne Morris, associate dean of agriculture, suggested to Bonnie Schultz, agriculture technology instructor, that the Ag Division develop a new initiative targeted toward farm wives and other women in agriculture. Schultz’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm, “We should host our own women in ag conference,” she said.
Ten years later, the AG-ceptional Women’s Conference is a strong as ever with approximately 400 women attending the 2018 edition of the event recently.
Morris, who is now dean of agriculture, math and science at Northeast, said the committee and volunteers spend countless hours throughout the year planning and implementing all aspects of the conference.
“This includes creating two video tributes which comprised this year of not only the AG-ceptional Woman of the Year presentation to Shana Beattie, of Sumner, but a “Where are They Now?” video of the past recipients of the award. The videos are professionally produced with Drew Dolezal, of Media Production Group, serving as the lead photographer and video editor. Morris works closely with Dolezal to produce the story line for the videos. Farm Credit Services of America has sponsored the production of the video for the AG-ceptional woman of the year for the past several years.
Keynote presentations at this year’s conference were given by Damian Mason, businessman, agriculturalist, writer, and consultant on the challenges and opportunities in the ag industry, and by Pat McGill, author, trainer and adjunct professor of education, who gave a presentation on the passion, purpose, and personality to living and working in rural America.
Morris said, “Damion created quite a buzz with his humorous, but informative and thought provoking views on agricultural issues. Pat had been a favorite speaker from the second conference, so we invited her back and she gave the closing keynote address. She was still on cloud nine for the great day she had at the conference. It was remarkable how engaged the audience was at the end of the day.”
One person who has worked behind the scenes since the first brainstorming session of the conference was recognized for her work during this year’s event. Kathy Neidig, of Battle Creek, was presented with the Ag-ceptional Women’s Conference Award of Merit.
Neidig has been instrumental in ensuring that people and businesses support the event. In 2010, she was hired as the administrative assistant for the conference and for the next seven-years, coordinated every single detail in planning the event.
In 2017, she left the position to pursue another career opportunity, but has stayed on as a committee member where she is still instrumental in making the conference a success.
Neidig said the AG-ceptional Women’s Conference serves as a valuable resource to women.
“Every day I witness women influencing the agriculture industry. This conference celebrates their achievements and helps them to continue making a positive impact in an industry that I am proud to be a part of.”
Away from the conference, Neidig and her family are heavily involved in the ag industry. She and her husband, Van, and their three sons raise Red Angus and Red Simmental cattle as co-owners/operators in Lakeside Livestock Equipment Company and Rock Bottom Industries.
She is also a member of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, American Simmental Association, Red Angus Association of America, the state breed associations, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Nebraska Cattlemen’s and the Norfolk FFA Alumni Association. She also has over 20 years as a 4-H leader and continues to be involved as a superintendent in addition to her behind the scenes work to ensure the success of the Madison County and Nebraska State Fairs.
“Kathy is a marvel,” Morris said. “She works harder than anyone I know, and is able to problem solve her way through any challenge. She has worked behind the scenes on the AG-ceptional Women’s conference and made each year better than the last. In fact, she has made a difference in so many lives with so many different types of activities, influencing the success of people of all ages in agriculture, business, politics and the community at large.”
Members of the AG-ceptional Women’s Conference Committee include Liz Doerr, Creighton; Roxanne Dusel, Norfolk; Traci Ebel, Wisner; Kimberly Fehringer, Norfolk; Karen Grant, Meadow Grove; Stephanie Hecht, Tilden; Peggy Hintz, Pierce; Mary Pat Hoag, Norfolk; Coletta Motacek, Battle Creek; Jan Miller, Belden; Corinne Morris, Carroll; Deb Neidig, Madison; Kathy Neidig, Battle Creek; Anna Pichinke, Clarkson; Joan Ruskamp, Dodge; Susan Risinger Green, Norfolk; Tara Smydra, Norfolk; and Carol Sullivan, Norfolk.
Morris said it takes the entire college community to stage the conference each year.
“People in every division of the College touch this conference, and we couldn’t do it without them,” Morris said. “Overall, it couldn’t have gone any better. The speakers, the exhibits, the food, the energy and enthusiasm were all just awesome!”
PHOTO ID: Corinne Morris (left), and Kathy Neidig.