Attend a new to you conference or retreat for growth this year

At a recent conference, Katie Pinke rediscovered the importance of networking and connection in growing as a person and professional.

A woman stands on a stage with a mostly wooden backdrop. She is wearing jeans and a hot pink shirt.
Katie Pinke felt felt empowered and uplifted after attending Ladyboss Midwest, a conference for women where she also spoke.
Contributed / Laura Caroon
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I spent last weekend at Flow, a women’s conference hosted by Ladyboss Midwest.

Full disclosure: The term “lady boss” has never been something I identify with or understand the draw or connection. I quickly learned my lack of understanding kept me from connecting and learning from a community of women who have so much to give.

Simply put, I felt empowered and uplifted after attending the retreat. In 36 hours, I filled my time with professional and personal development and came home with new ideas to better myself and the teams I work alongside in my profession, small business and volunteer roles.

At the Ladyboss retreat, the women encouraged one another, dug into tough topics from subject matter experts, which spurred conversations, and enjoyed downtime to mingle.

One group of women I visited with on Friday evening attended as colleagues in a rural public health department, away from the grind of their demanding work. The struggles they faced the past two years were evident in their eyes when they talked about the pandemic, yet they sparkled and shined together, laughing and enjoying one another, far from the demands of their professional calling.


Katie Pinke

There are countless national, regional and local conferences, camps and retreats scheduled to gather in person again this year. Whether you’re a woman or man, I encourage you to attend an event that offers networking and development but might be outside the norm for you in 2022.

Pre-pandemic, I likely would have said no to attending the Ladyboss retreat. I would not have carved out time in my schedule, coordinated kids’ calendars and communicated with my husband to work it into his schedule to allow this time for myself.

In 2022, I’m more open to going where I feel called, spurring growth in new places and allowing space for myself. I recognize as a mom, wife and professional I am growing, which is positive for my personal and career development.

Call it continuing education, even if your line of work doesn’t require it. For me, continuing education meant showing up 36 hours before I was scheduled to speak at a retreat simply to have time to listen, reflect and connect.

I attended Ladyboss with the intention of seeing a few familiar people I hadn’t hugged in years. I also had a strong desire to meet and connect with new faces, longing to find connections post-pandemic outside of my usual circles.

I appreciated that the retreat agenda and program had nothing to do with my line of work in agriculture and was held four hours from my rural home. Growth comes in new thinking and listening.

Last year, I wrote a column about ag organizations and how my opinion had changed in regard to questioning the value of membership . I felt a shift at the Ladyboss retreat in my thinking that yes, we need like-minded organizations in our sectors of business and livelihoods, but we also need to connect outside of our lanes of expertise.

We’re born to connect with others.


The agriculture industry offers a host of acronym-heavy organizations specific to crop and livestock sectors, along with policy-driven organizations. I believe it's vital we attend and participate in those specific agriculture organizations that we connect with and drive our livelihoods. But stepping outside of my comfort of agriculture at Ladyboss reminded me, I need growth outside of my usual space too.

Make it a goal this year to strengthen your ties to your community or connect with a new circle of people. Attend your favorite conference in person. Or maybe it’s time to attend a new conference or retreat. Either way, make it a priority to connect and learn alongside a community.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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