The 65th Annual Rural Life Conference is set for Friday, March 15, at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s (UAPB) Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Complex, 1204 L.A. “Prexy” Davis Drive. A previous press release stated the conference would be held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center; however, the location has been changed due to scheduling conflicts.
The conference begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. and the opening session at 8:30 a.m. The program concludes at 4 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and door prizes will be awarded.
Conference attendees will be able to attend a wide variety of workshops on trending topics in agriculture and family and consumer sciences. This year’s workshop topics include aquaponics, which is the combined growing of fish and plants, as well as forestry and beekeeping. A session titled “Plan. Produce. Profit.” will educate specialty crop producers on how to operate under the Arkansas Food Freedom Act.
One timely workshop will provide an update on the Farm Bill. Another highlights the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Producers will also be able to learn about the USDA Farm Service Agency’s conservation and loan programs.
Other topics include beef cattle production, small pond management, growing produce with high tunnels, agricultural risk management, the use of drones in agriculture, mushroom and herb production, and the use of the biochar soil additive to increase production.
Several workshops aim to strengthen local individuals, families and communities. Some of these include crafting local food systems that benefit all, emerging trends in rural development, stretching food dollars, maximizing tax returns, creating efficient business structures, and ensuring mental wellness. During a will-writing clinic, personnel from five different law firms will be providing help writing wills and offering legal and technical support.
One workshop highlights a local initiative that helps grandparents and their grandchildren bond through gardening. An open forum for high school students will also be featured.
This year’s conference theme is “Legacy Opportunities for Community Service and Outreach – Connecting, Collaboration and Commitment.” In addition to workshops, the conference will feature guest speakers, a poster session highlighting research projects and exhibits by governmental and community agencies.
Those who are not able to attend the conference in-person can take part in some of the planned activities virtually. The workshop sessions will be available via the Zoom video-conferencing platform.
The conference is free to producers, students, veterans, homemakers and retirees. For registration rates for professionals and agency personnel, contact Karen Lee at (870) 575-7225 or [email protected].
Early registration is strongly recommended for accurate breakfast and lunch counts. To preregister, contact Casandra Byrd at (870) 575-8123 or [email protected]. The registration form for the virtual conference is also accessible online. Email [email protected] to have the link to the form sent to you.