Tama Co. Women, Land & Legacy Celebrates 10th year, 30th Event

Women, Land & Legacy has been a growing program since 2004, made possible only by the commitment and great outreach efforts from our local teams across Iowa. Tama County’s WLL team has been one of the longest-running groups now celebrating 10 years of local programming for women in Tama and surrounding counties. Their 30th event, on beekeeping, will be held this Thursday, April 6th. WLL Coordinator Wren Almitra recently interviewed Melody Bro, a member of the Tama team and previous WLL Coordinator. Selections from the interview are below. Read the entire interview on the WLL website.

WLL works through local teams. Can you introduce your Tama Co. team and mention any highlights about how it has shifted over the years?

Women, Land & Legacy vineyard tour

Our newer non-agency members include Melissa Frundle, Karla Novotny and Kellie Carolan. Glenda Devick, Rebecca Dostal and Margaret and Julia Babinat have been with us since the beginning! Anna Boecker and Gail Upah represent USDA-FSA, Larry Jones represents USDA-NRCS, and the Tama Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioners and I represent the District. ISU Extension and Outreach has played a vital role on our Local Team throughout our project life also. Its Youth Coordinator, Jenny Hulme, has joined us recently in the absence of a current director, so we hope Extension will have two representatives on our Local Team once someone is hired to fill that vacancy! I have to note that SWCD Commissioner Jan Wobeter has been instrumental with hands-on help for every event, and Anna and I bat ideas around all the time.

Have you had struggled at all with team membership and leadership?

We’ve been lucky that I’ve been allowed time to facilitate our local project as part of my job duties, and Anna graciously facilitated for a year when I wasn’t employed in the USDA Service Center. We’ve also experienced very little turnover in agency personnel, which is something several local projects have struggled with. Only four of our non-agency members have left us over the years—Camilla Dostal, Pat Oettchen, Frances Bacon and Georgette Edel. I think this Local Team consistency has been key to our local project’s continuity.

What, in your experience, makes a strong, long lasting team?

We gather each January to review the prior year’s events and the list of Learning Session topic requests. Then we work together to prioritize topics and divvy up responsibilities for each session. Please note that I’m not “in charge,” but rather simply a point of contact so we remain organized. I think it’s also really helped that our agency members have farm backgrounds.

Your team is celebrating its 10th year, making you one of the longest running WLL chapters still active today. What has kept you going?

Plain and simple–the incredible people on our local team are what makes it all click.

You’re also celebrating your 30th Learning Session event on April 6th. What have been some of your favorites/highlights from your sessions?

Wow, that’s a tough question. I’ve learned new things at each one. I don’t think I can pick one favorite, but I really love our outdoor summer events. Also, Farmhand 101 in 2007 was reportedly a new concept in Learning Sessions with attendees rotating through concurrent sessions.

What would you say are some of the key things women are getting from your events?

First of all, everyone’s take-away is different, depending upon their individual circumstances and needs going into a session. It’s interesting visiting with attendees and seeing how people come away with different highlights from attending the same session. But no matter the event’s topic, I think networking and the large group, small group and individual conversations have tremendous impact on attendees.

I feel event time for conversation is what sets Women, Land & Legacy apart from other organizations. Also, it’s not just scientific data–attendees request female presenters, so we do our best to provide them for our sessions.

How many women do you estimate you’ve reached through 10 years and 30 events?

Of the 247 individuals we’ve served, 174 have been women from in and around Tama County or absentee inheritors of local land.

What advice would you offer to a prospective county thinking about joining WLL, who hasn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon?

Whether you realize it or not, you need this…in your local area!

Learn more about Women, Land & Legacy at their website!