By: Dr. Antomia (Mia) Farrell
2020 was a year of uncertainty for us all, but the Women’s Forest Congress was birthed! Through the Women’s Forest Congress, I feel like I have inherited newfound sisters from the forest community. Almost a year ago, I received an email asking about my experience facilitating. I instantly replied and shared my expertise. That email led to me attending the first meeting, and that first meeting has turned into a relationship that has evolved in less than a year. I could feel the positive energy and desire for success around the Women’s Forest Congress. I knew nothing about the forest community, but I was willing to learn. I knew the opportunity was bigger than I. As I prepared for the first event, I’ll admit, I lost a little sleep because there were so many unknowns for me. The learning curve was steep, and I will say the steering committee guided me in the right direction. The steering committee is full of passionate women that are on fire for the forest community. As I met with the steering committee weekly, I began to feel like I was a part of the forest community. I do have a background in agriculture but no strong background in forestry. On the day of the event, I told myself, “No one knows the script better than you do, and you will bring the energy needed.” I said a quick prayer before the event, and I can say over the course of the two days, I had so much fun facilitating. Introducing world-renowned women from the forest community was a humbling experience.
Fast forward to 2021, Liz and Amy reached out to me asking if I would be interested in facilitating International Women’s Day in March. Without hesitation, I said yes without asking any questions. I always know whatever they are asking is going to be top-notch. So my yes, led to another successful Women’s Forest Congress Event. International Women’s Day was by far an event for the books. Having the opportunity to facilitate with over 621 registrants with all US states represented, 4 Canadian provinces, and 26 countries from around the world was astonishing! How many people can say that? Not many! I appreciate the Women’s Forest Congress for giving me the space to be authentic and vulnerable while telling my story. The women I have met through the Women’s Forest Congress have been amazing, and I appreciate the relationship that we have developed! I am because women before me believed in ME. I look forward to participating in the upcoming June 8 event and beyond. This is only the beginning of this incredible movement!
Dr. Antomia (Mia) Farrell
Assistant Dean for Diversity
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
National Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS)