Lt. Gov. Jari Askins keynotes Women in Ag at Muskogee

See the Market – Seize the Opportunity

image of Jari Askins speaking at podium
(From left) Chris Lester, NRCS district conservationist; Trish Kloeckler, Muskogee CCD secretary; and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins.

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins opened the Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference in Muskogee on Sept. 14 with a keynote address. She emphasized the important roles women have played in state history and how vital the economic health of rural Oklahoma is to the state. She encouraged participants to explore opportunities for agritourism endeavors to augment their agricultural businesses. “Oklahoma is the number one state in the nation for entrepreneurial endeavors,” she said.

image of women at event with Jari Akins
(From left) Jamie Virden, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma 2011; Lt. Gov. Jari Askins; and Trish Kloeckler, Muskogee CCD secretary.

“Planning for Entrepreneurs” was one of the topics featured in concurrent sessions during the daylong conference. Other topics included small farm marketing, mineral rights for landowners, agritourism opportunities, and retirement and estate planning.

State and federal agency leaders were introduced at the luncheon. Those were Mike Thralls, executive director, Oklahoma Conservation Commission; Ron Hilliard, state conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Ryan McMullen, state director, USDA Rural Development; Francie Tolle, state director, USDA Farm Service Agency; and Clay Pope, executive director, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.

image of people at NRCS
(From left) Mike Thralls, OCC executive director; Trish Kloeckler, Muskogee CCD secretary; Jamie Virden, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma 2011; Francie Tolle, FSA state director; and Ron Hilliard, NRCS state conservationist.

Miss Rodeo Oklahoma 2011, Jamie Virden of Pauls Valley presented a closing address in the afternoon. “Rodeo is a family-oriented sport that is a constant reminder of a simpler way of life than the fast pace world we live in today,” she said. “It revolves around hard work, dedication and determination to be successful, and these values can be called upon to teach the youth of America strong morals and ethics,” she said.

Approximately 130 people attended the event whose theme was “See the Market – Seize the Opportunity.” Sponsors were the Muskogee County Conservation District, Okmulgee County Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Farm Credit and the Muskogee and Okmulgee County Cattlemen’s Associations.

The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) ran a clip about the conference on the Oklahoma News Report. To view the clip, go to and click on the ONR broadcast for Sept. 14, 2010.