Women landowners and operators have traditionally been an underserved audience among conservation groups, including government agencies, as they provide resources and assistance to the agricultural community. The Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) has developed the women learning circles methodology to provide gender-specific messaging which has proven successful in addressing this shortcoming and helping women keep their farm and better sustain their operations.
This methodology was introduced to Indiana in 2013 by the WFAN, American Farmland Trust and other partners. The success with which it was received inspired a committed group of women resource professionals to form a state steering committee to keep the momentum going. Women4theLand; Indiana Women’s Conservation Learning Circles (W4L) is supported by the Indiana Conservation Partnership and is committed to better serving women landowners and operators to manage and improve their land. To do this, Women4theLand seeks to train professional conservationists and key farmers in communication skills and provide the framework (the learning circle methodology) for continued outreach to women land owners/operators to support them in farm operations that use conservation practices for a sustainable farm enterprise.
Working under the program name Women4theLand: Indiana Women’s Conservation Learning Circles, we train learning circle facilitators, support the planning and implementation of local learning circles, and also provide a framework for maintaining a consistent and successful state-wide program.
As a partnership that delivers programming to Indiana women landowners, farmers and natural resource professionals, our goals are to empower and positively impact Indiana’s land, food and quality of life through sustainable agriculture, wise conservation action and strong farm enterprises.
The Steering Committee
The Women4theLand Steering Committee works together to provide oversight and guidance to the entire effort. We are fortunate to have many exceptional women working in the agriculture and natural resource community in Indiana. Members of the steering committee include:
American Farmland Trust: Jennifer Filipiak
Farmer and Female Landowner: Sara Creech*
Hoosier Heartland RC&D, Marion County SWCD and Female Landowner: Paula Baldwin**
Indiana Assoc. of Soil and Water Conservation Districts: Jennifer Boyle Warner, Amy Work
Indiana Department of Environmental Management: Martha Clark-Mettler, Mary Lou Renshaw
Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Amanda Wuesterfeld
Indiana Farm Bureau: Isabella Chisom
Indiana State Department of Agriculture: Laura Fribley, Geneva Tyler
Purdue Extension: Angela Tilton, Liz Jackson
Tippecanoe Co. SWCD: Angela Garcia-Miller
USDA, Farm Service Agency: Julia Wickard, Susan Hovermale
USDA, NRCS: Brianne Lowe**, Rebecca Fletcher, Jane Hardisty, Susan Meadows, Jill Reinhart, Kris Vance**
W4L State Coordinator: Heather Bacher
* Executive Secretary
** Subcommittee Chair