Wisconsin Women Come Together for Conservation - Paycheck

Wisconsin Women Come Together for Conservation

Wisconsin Women in Conservation is a new initiative giving women farmers stronger voices in Wisconsin. The program promotes land, water and wildlife stewardship by women landowners using a combination of educational methods including workshops, field days and mentoring.

   “Through ‘Wisconsin Women in Conservation’, we look forward to building those women-to-women connections to help women support one another and grow together,” said Esther Shekinah, research scientist with Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and project director for the new initiative. “And we hope the community we build will last long beyond the scope of this project and spread the love for the land and its stewardship.”

   Several organizations that continue to promote sustainability and conservation are heading up this three-year initiative. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is the lead partner; others include Wisconsin Farmers Union, Renewing the Countryside, E Resources Group and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). The Natural Resources Conservation Service is assisting with funding and support.

   Women are nurturers by nature, and they use that fundamental quality to care for their families, their land and the earth, Shekinah said. They are also change-makers and transformers but don’t always receive much credit for those qualities, she added.

   “I am excited about this project because this focuses on women and what they can do,” she said. “By bringing conservation to the doorsteps of women of today, imagine the changes we can bring about in conserving the natural resources for our future generations.”

   Although all women are welcome to participate, regional coordinators will focus on eighteen counties around the state to foster networking and help connect with NRCS staff and programs. Women can also add their names to a list to receive mentoring from conservation coaches, who are experienced women landowners.

   Kriss Marion, an experienced woman landowner, member of Wisconsin Farmers Union and media contact for Wisconsin Women in Conservation, is using this grassroots approach to female conservation education and empowerment to build aspiration through storytelling. She said this initiative builds on the strengths of people’s relationships, which is crucial for farmers receiving conservation payments of any kind.

   “This amplifies the voices of women who are doing conservation,” Marion said. “In my experience, conservation is a contagious thing – you get an appetite for it after seeing it.”

   Free workshops are starting in March and April via Zoom but Shekinah and Marion are hopeful for in-person events later this year and throughout the three-year project. Attending the workshops is the first step to getting involved, Shekinah said.

   “Share your dreams of conserving your land for posterity with other landowners like you,” she said. “Women thrive in such an atmosphere and help each other grow to a place of comfort where they can either make decisions for their land or put in place a plan toward that end.”

   For more information or to sign up for events, visit https://www.wiwic.org/events.

Mary Hookham

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