On April 9th Women, Land & Legacy State Team member Wendi Denham was awarded the USDA Equal Employment Opportunity/Civil Rights Individual Achievement Award during the Diversity Day presentation (you can read about the 2017 group award given to the Emmet/Palo Alto WLL team here).
According to State FSA Executive Director Amanda De Jong USDA agencies look for employees that have conducted activities, such as cultural awareness, outreach to the underserved and civil rights participation. “Ms. Denham’s engagement and outreach both within Mahaska County and also across the State has helped the Farm Service Agency continue to get our message and services out producers who need them most”, says De Jong. “Ms. Denham was recognized for her outreach efforts for both local and state wide levels, including representing FSA on the WLL State Team since 2014. There’s been a 48% increase in chapters since her involvement.”
“UDSA has something for almost every landowner and producer”, says Denham. “Outreach efforts are imperative, as they ensure producers are aware of USDA program opportunities that are available to assist them with beginning or enhancing their farming operations. Working with people and teaching others are my passions. Outreach affords me the chance to work with people of diverse backgrounds and team them about the programs USDA has to offer.”
Denham recently worked with NRCS to develop an outreach and communication plan for field offices to implement SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), an organization providing free business mentoring services to prospective and established small business owners. In August of 2017 Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue signed a MOU with SCORE at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines. The initiative offers mentoring through one-on-one business coaching to beginning farmers at no cost to producers.
Finally, as Mahaska County FSA CED (County Executive Director) Denham was instrumental in getting a local chapter of Women, Land & Legacy established in Mahaska and Marion counties. Working with a team of USDA agency and non-agency women, the team has put on three events since kicking off in 2017 on topics covering estate planning and women in agriculture stories. Denham has also been an invaluable contact for other FSA offices interested in getting a local WLL chapter started in their counties. Stay tuned to Mahaska/Marion WLL news here.
Women, Land & Legacy is a unique Iowa-based USDA program coordinated through the Women, Food & Agriculture Network. It’s locally led at the county level and empowers women to be agents of positive change on their landscapes and in their communities. USDA agencies are critical parts of the local efforts, as are numerous other partners throughout Iowa.
To learn more about Women, Land & Legacy, visit http://www.womenlandandlegacy.org. To learn more about WFAN programs, visit http://www.wfan.org. To learn more about Iowa NRCS’s Federal Women’s Program, click here.