A family farmer and motivational speaker from eastern Iowa will headline the annual Iowa Specialty Producers Conference, set for Feb. 22-23 in Ankeny.

Jolene Brown, whose family produces row crops near Iowa City, will talk about the opportunities and challenges of maintaining a successful family business during her keynote address “The Top 10 Mistakes that Break up a Family Business.”

Brown is the author of multiple books and articles on family business experiences, advice and practical insight. She will open the conference Feb. 22 at 9 a.m., followed by two full days of breakout sessions and networking opportunities.

More than 30 industry professionals will speak on topics covering fruits and vegetables, wines and grape production, specialty crops, and business and marketing decisions. The speakers include specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and State Climatologist Justin Glisan, who will co-lead a talk Feb. 22 called “Demystifying Weather Forecasts.”

The first day will conclude with an exhibitor happy hour where attendees can engage with exhibitors, followed by the Iowa Wine Awards Social, hosted by the Iowa Wine Growers Association.

The second day kicks off with a second keynote by Jolene Brown, called “Through the Eyes of a Customer.” A special pre-conference workshop opportunity will be offered Feb. 21, with a focus on sweet corn in the morning, and floriculture in the afternoon.

On both days, participants can hear from farmers who are part of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education projects, during the “SARE Farmer Forum” track.

“We are excited to host the fourth annual Iowa Specialty Producers Conference again in Ankeny, said Kendra Meyer, executive secretary for the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association and a program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “We have a great lineup of speakers and look forward to two days packed with education, information and networking. A special highlight this year is our pre-conference workshop that the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association is hosting on Tuesday.”

The conference will be held at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, and is organized by the Iowa Specialty Crop Producers Association and the Iowa Wine Growers Association. Other partners include ISU Extension and Outreach, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“The Iowa Wine Growers Association is thrilled to co-host the 4th annual Iowa Specialty Producers Conference with the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association,” said Christie Jensen, marketing director with the Iowa Wine Growers Association. “We have built a great relationship over the past four years, and we are excited to showcase all of the wonderful speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors this year’s conference will feature.”


Individual registration for the full conference is $220 and single-day registration is $150. Early bird rates are $200 and $130, respectively. Members of the Iowa Wine Growers Association and the Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association (formerly, the Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association) will receive an exclusive discounted rate of 35% off for full and single-day conference registration per member. Membership status will be verified following registration for each attendee.

Register online by Jan. 14 for the best rates and to help with event planning. The conference registration link is Rates will increase after Jan. 14. Register for the pre-conference workshops at

Registration is also open for exhibitors and sponsors at

Each person attending the conference must have an individual registration. If you are registering multiple people be sure you have selected a ticket for each registrant.

Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

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