Women, Land & Legacy (WLL) is a unique program for women in agriculture that puts the direction of learning in the hands of the women who need more information to make best decisions for their farms and land. The WLL State Team learned early on that women prefer to receive information in a variety of ways, including informal and diverse presentation styles, direct participation, and through open conversations with one another. Most participants feel that focused dialogue with peers and potential advisors in smaller groups is just as important and, at times, as effective as formal presentations.
Though each Women, Land & Legacy chapter is different in what events are provided to women in their areas, a common thread through each is participation through dialogue. In fact, all new WLL teams kick-off their first event with a Listening Session, which is directly aimed to bring women together to converse with each other about their farm experiences, share their specific interests and needs, and create as a group a list of topics that their WLL team will use to provide educational events for years to come.
All WLL chapters throughout Iowa are encouraged to incorporate time for focused conversation during their events, whenever possible. As an example of how this can work, at a recent WLL event on conservation and land leases in Tama County, presenter Sara Burges shared tools for landowners and tenants to use to get more conservation on the land through leases (lots of conversation between landowners and tenants was definitely a theme in Sara’s presentation). After the presentation, participants spent time in small groups discussing the questions, “What roadblocks have you encountered [when having conversations with your tenant and/or landowner about conservation practices] and how did you overcome them?”. From this, new questions and ideas were generated that provided an opportunity for other participants to give feedback based on their own experiences. This process demonstrated that everyone had information to share, and everyone in the room had an opportunity to speak.
We’ve seen first-hand that this process of engagement through conversation is empowering women to voice their ideas and needs, while creating a sense of community through shared experiences. From this, women are feeling more confident to make more informed decisions for their farming operations and land decisions.
Want to be part of the conversation? To see if there is a local Women, Land & Legacy chapter in your county, see our map of active counties. Don’t see your county listed? Contact us to find out how to get a chapter started where you live!