American Farmland Trust and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Publish Guide on Virtual Engagement for Women
The pandemic was the impetus, yet online offerings can help address barriers many women encounter when trying to access in person education.
(Washington, D.C.) – American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) published information, tips and tools for effective engagement for online education, including hybrid settings for farm and ranch women on topics related to farm viability, resilience and conservation in “Reaching Women in Agriculture: A Guide to Virtual Engagement”. The guide was originally developed through a partnership with AFT and the University of Vermont extension and has recently been updated, enhanced and published by SARE earlier in 2022.
The guide shares that one of the reasons to create women-focused and women-only events, virtual or otherwise, is to establish a comfortable space for women-identifying individuals to find and access resources, information and networking they typically do not have easy access to in the agricultural services world. The goal is to create a safe space for women to learn from each other and gain confidence, rather than excluding men.
“The guidance in Reaching Women is born out of AFT’s Women for the Land initiative and the Learning Circle model which arose out of early partnerships with the Women Food and Agriculture Network,” said Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, PhD, guide author and AFT Women for the Land Director. “Learning Circles, where women learn from other women in a setting with no visible hierarchy, have proven effective in engaging women landowners and producers in conversations about land management, particularly regarding agricultural best practices for soil health and water quality. The guide provides best practices for conducting this work in a virtual setting.”
Reaching Women incorporates both the characteristics of high-quality programs for women in agriculture and the emerging best practices for adapting farmer education and networking events to virtual platforms. It shares innovative approaches and lessons learned from AFT efforts and the efforts of our partners to engage women in agriculture under the social distancing requirements associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This work will continues be critically important for outreach as we continue to integrate virtual engagement in the work we do even as we move beyond acute impacts associated with the pandemic. Rurality, large geographic expanses, expenses associated with childcare and transportation make virtual options for gathering an ongoing need for engaging women in agriculture.
The guide brings everything together in profiles of work done by partner organizations in the agricultural and natural resources field including Elizabeth Lillard, Women in Conservation Leadership, National Wildlife Federation • Maggie Norton, Practical Farmers of Iowa • Caitlin Joseph and Ashley Brucker (also authors of this guide), Women for the Land Initiative at American Farmland Trust • Cayla Bendel and Kim Cole, Pheasants Forever • Jean Eells, E Resources Group, LLC • Lisa Kivirist, formerly with In Her Boots, a program of the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service • Wren Almitra, Women Food and Agriculture Network and Women, Land and Legacy
To order: Download or order your free print copy of Reaching Women in Agriculture at https://sare.org/reaching-women or by calling (301) 779-1007. Reaching Women in Agriculture is available in quantity for free to educators for use in educational workshops, classes or tours.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.
About SARE: The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is a producer-driven, decentralized competitive grants and education program operating in every state and island protectorate. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the program is run by four regions hosted by land grant institutions. Since 1988, SARE has funded over 8,000 competitively funded projects to advance agricultural innovation that promotes profitability, stewardship of the land, air and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities. For more information, visit www.sare.org.