Rural Women In America host 12th annual conference

Hundreds of women from the tri-state area convened in Bowman last weekend for the annual Rural Women conference, an event geared towards inspiring and celebrating rural women.

Katie Dilse
Katie Dilse speaks to the crowd at the Rural Women In America conference.

Posted October 10, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

Hundreds of women from the tri-state area convened in Bowman last weekend for the annual Rural Women conference, an event geared towards inspiring and celebrating rural women.

Rural Women in America, in its 12th year, hosted its conference at the Four Seasons Pavilion in Bowman Oct. 4. The theme for the event was “Growing Rural Women” and featured a new event to this year’s conference.

This year’s event saw 430 registered women in attendance, with one attendee coming from Bismarck. Attendance was up compared to last year, due to winter storm Atlas occurring during the 2013 conference.

Since the theme was about growing, the board thought it would be a good idea to include the younger females of the area and, on Friday night, held a new “Girls Night Out” event.

“We just wanted a night for the girls since our theme was ‘Growing Rural Women’ this year,” said Shelby Hewson, a Rural Women in America board member. “That’s why we wanted to incorporate the younger gals, too.” The event was free for girls 13 to 18 years old.

Sarah Hart, who also spoke at the main conference Saturday, talked about being “the you, you are meant to be,” and Detective Travis Leintz discussed Internet safety in a time when it has become most crucial.

Sierra Lee was the big door prize winner of the night and took home an iPad Mini.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off at 9 a.m., with registration, and then an opening by the 2014 Miss Rodeo North Dakota, Codi Miller. Throughout the day, there were two speakers and three learning sessions, with a bit of entertainment over the lunch hour.

There were merchandise vendors and snacks in between the different sessions.

Speaking first on Saturday was Hart, an accomplished singer and speaker. Hart’s speech was uniquely titled: “The Grateful Juggler: Finding Peace and Joy in the Chaos.” Her contribution to the conference covered topics related to overcoming struggles and how women can emerge from chaos and “juggle” the chaos of life.

She told a story of her family facing countless amounts of adversity, heeded by the loss of a nostalgic childhood item of hers that was mistakenly thrown in the garbage. Though it was just an item, it symbolized much more for Hart.

She wanted to show the crowd how she overcame those struggles and desired to be an example of how things could again become peaceful.

Two of the learning sessions discussed different topics regarding food.

The first, “Buttercream Basics: The Foundation for a Fabulous Cake,” was put on by Tommi Glines, a Buffalo, S.D., resident and graduate of the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Glines spoke about a special type of buttercream frosting and even handed out samples for the attendees to taste.

The other food-based learning session was by Patty Gilbert, a physician’s assistant at Southwest Healthcare in Bowman, who talked about the differences of eating organic food, correctly reading labels and how a person should be aware of what they’re buying and consuming.

The last session was from Maria Bosak, who utilized a type of chalk paint to display her message of  “a repurposed life.” A “little paint brush and a whole lot of sweat” changed her life.

For lunch entertainment, the Rural Women in America invited Slope County resident Brady Rustan.

Rustan is a fourth-grade student in New England who has been playing music for three years. He played six songs and switched between the piano and the guitar.

The nine-year-old impressed the crowd, enough to receive a standing ovation at the conclusion of his performance.

Prior to Rustan’s performance, Bailey Peterson, a 10-year old student at Bowman County Public School, offered a blessing.

Capping off the day was a speech from Scranton resident Katie Dilse, no stranger to the conference.

Dilse, a motivational speaker, spoke to the group about taking risks. Her speech was appropriately titled, “Auto Steer Unplugged: Live a Little White-Knuckled.”

Food was provided by Kruger’s Kitchen with a cupcake dessert by Two Sisters Bakery.

A photo contest was also part of the event, with Denise Zolnoski winning.

Carol Giannonatti and Wanda Pollen each took home an iPad Mini when their name was drawn at the end of the event.

Overall, it was a good day for the rural women of North Dakota.

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