Wisconsin Women in Conservation: Announces free Zoom workshops for March and April, hosted by Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Kirsten Slaughter

Blanchardville, WI –  Wisconsin Women in Conservation, a new state-wide coalition of landowners and agencies, has announced free on-line “Spring Into Conservation!” workshops on March 3 and April 7 from 12 to 1:30pm. The live Zoom events are geared toward female farmers and landowners in Marathon, Portage, Shawano and surrounding counties who are interested in learning more about land stewardship or in sharing their own expertise, but they are open to all interested women. Registration is now open at www.wiwic.org.

“I am really excited to take part in this project. I think there is so much power in creating networks of women across the state who are able to learn with, and from each other,” said Slaughter, who is a WiWiC Regional Coordinator for the NorthWestern Region of the state.  “I am thrilled to work with our partners to build connections around conservation in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC) is a broad state-wide coalition of organizations dedicated to sustainable agriculture and conservation education, with funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Michael Fields Agricultural Institute as the lead is partnering with the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Renewing the Countryside, E Resources Group, and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Other participating agencies are Pheasants Forever and county land conservation departments.

Slaughter is the Chapter and Education organizer for Wisconsin Farmers Union. In her work she collaborates with WFU county chapters to host educational events on a wide array of topics, helps to build connections between members, and organizes other educational events across the state. Kirsten has been part of the WFU and Pheasants Forever team organizing Women Caring for the Land events across the state for the last two years. These events have brought women farmers, landowners, and others interested in conservation together to connect and learn.

“As both a woman landowner and a conservation educator, I have had the opportunity to attend and help facilitate various workshops in a women-only setting like the ones Wisconsin Women in Conservation are hosting, and have found them very empowering,” said Julie Peterson, a Farm Bill Biologist with Pheasants Forever.  “Shared space for women with a mutual passion for conservation brings out ideas and resources.  It’s that collaborative spirit of women and these kinds of settings enable us to be stronger together.”

The Zoom events will also feature regional soil experts, wildlife biologists, and others who can provide technical assistance and possibly funding to help participants put more conservation practices in place on their land. The group also plans to do in-person field days and farm demonstrations later in the year. One of the goals of the group is to promote networks of women landowners who can help each other transform their properties, and the group will provide Conservation Coaches to those who want them.

“Women are nurturers …of their families, of their land, of the earth. Women are also change makers and transformers for which not much credit is given to them. I am excited about this project because this focuses on women….and what they can do!” said WiWiC Lead Coordinator Dr. Esther Shekinah, a research agronomist at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.  “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….that’s exhilarating!!”

Women landowners are a growing demographic. The 2017 Census recorded 38,509 female producers in Wisconsin, showing that women make up 35 percent of all producers in the state. “That’s a 16 percent increase in the number of female producers from the 2012 census,” shares Shekinah. “Though many of these women would like to support sustainable agricultural practices that would help them leave their land for future generations in a state of oneness with nature and better soil health, their lack of exposure to or knowledge about such agricultural practices impedes their acting on these impulses. This new Wisconsin Women in Conservation initiative aims to address that.”

This unique three-year initiative will collaboratively engage women landowners through workshops, field days, farm tours, mentorships, a newsletter and other learning opportunities. Sign up for workshops or the newsletter at www.wiwic.org, and follow the group on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

For more information on the March and April workshops, contact Kirsten Slaughter at 608-514-2031 or [email protected]