Women Attending WCL Meetings Are Taking Conservation Action!

Women, Food and Agriculture Network has hosted 61 Women Caring for the Land meetings on the topic of soil health between 2013 and 2015, in seven Midwest states (NE, MN, IA, WI, MO, IL and IN). A USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant funded 40 of these meetings, the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality funded 12 in Iowa, and a USDA SARE Professional Development grant funded 9 in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Female non-operator farmland owners spent six hours together at each meeting, beginning with a learning circle discussion on the basics of soil health and soil testing, facilitated by female resource professionals. The group then took a guided field tour. At the end of the day, women were asked to fill out an evaluation form to measure their increase in confidence and knowledge as a result of the program, and provide some basic demographic data. A few highlights are listed below; for the full report, click this link.

Total of 762 women landowner attendees, 735 forms returned.

Total of 194,632 acres owned by 635 participants (100 participants didn’t own land directly).

Average of 307 acres among women landowner participants across all 7 states.

Measure of expectations met (1-5 point scale)        4.6

Satisfaction with content (1-5 point scale)            4.6

Between 92 and 98 percent of the repondents were "very likely" to take an action as a result of the meeting, including talking to their tenant farmers about conservation, talking with other women about soil health, and contacting resource professionals for more information.

An average of 86% reported an increase in confidence.

One participants in a meeting in Niobrara, NE, said: “[I liked] The VERY clear explanations of the properties of soil, and hearing and talking with other women about their experience.”