By Tom Carpenter
Pheasants Forever and the Wisconsin Farmers Union partner on conservation workshops around the state
Conservation is sometimes thought of as a man’s world. But as the man said, that “just ain’t always the case.”
And case-in-point are Women Caring for the Land workshops being held around Wisconsin this summer.
“Pheasants Forever is co-hosting the events,” says Julie Peterson, a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill biologist based in Appleton, Wisconsin. “We have four farm bill biologists in our state that also happen to be women. These are great showcase events to further conservation and highlight women’s involvement. It’s a platform for bringing together producers who have a tie to the land with resources for managing it better.”
“The Women Caring for the Land idea came out of Iowa,” says Peterson. “But the concept – bringing women together and giving them a forum for sharing their stories and learning different and new conservation techniques, really opens up the discussion in an otherwise male-dominated industry.”
“It’s a great model. At each workshop we share stories and knowledge in the morning,” she describes. “Then in the afternoon we learn specific land management and conservation practices from the host producer as we take a tour.” That’s an important concept in perfect sync with Pheasants Forever’s mission of achieving a harmony between agricultural production and wildlife habitat conservation.
“It’s women getting to tell our stories of, and connections to, the land. In our own way. Really open up.” Then, she laughs, “in the afternoons, we do allow men to come and attend the hands-on sessions, if they wish!”
Each event is held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and includes a morning learning circle and potluck lunch followed by an afternoon tour of the host farm and production practices that keep the land in mind. Three more events remain this summer:
On August 2, at Autumn Moon Farm, 854 Fritz Road, Belleville, attendees will see how Becky Olson and her husband applied her environmental non-profit experience to transform from dairy to direct grain sales to brewers and bakers. A trout fishing easement helped bridge their inter-generational farm transition while protecting the watershed.
On August 9, at Glacial Lake Cranberries, 2480 County Road D, Wisconsin Rapids, women will see how conservation is at the heart of this 6,000-acre family-run operation, which is headed up by Mary Brazeau Brown. Cranberries have been produced on the property since 1873.
On August 15, at Blue Ox Organics, N11253 State Hwy 25, Wheeler, Lauren Langworthy will show how her love of the land is at work on the small, diversified farm she runs with her husband. Rotational grazing is helping to rebuild the soil at Blue Ox Organics, where the unglaciated Driftless Area and the Northwoods meet.
The Women Caring for the Land series was developed by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network. Besides the Wisconsin Farmers Union and Pheasants forever, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is an additional sponsor.
Anyone interested in attending a Wisconsin Women Caring for the Land workshop can RSVP to Deb Jakubek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-590-2130. For more information about the program, visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com
Questions can also be directed to Julie Peterson at JPeterson@pheasantsforever.org. She would be an excellent additional resource for insights into putting together a similar program in your own state.
Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager at Pheasants Forever.
Photo Credits: Tally Hamilton, Pheasants Forever.