While we honor our conservation educators who work with women landowners all year long, the fall season as we reap the harvest is a special reminder of gratitude for all the hard work you do stewarding our Wisconsin landscape. Come celebrate and dig deeper into your conservation career with tools and resources at our next WiWiC Conservation Educator Network Fall Meet-Up on Wednesday, October 19 at 10 am. The Wisconsin Women in Conservation Educator Network aims to grow our state’s conservation movement by facilitating this inclusive network of conservation educators to collaboratively support each other in our conservation outreach and work.
All conservation educators working with women landowners in Wisconsin are warmly invited to attend, whatever your background or whether you are a professional on staff at an agency, non-profit or other organization or are a volunteer. Men and women who work in conservation education are welcome to attend this virtual (Zoom) WiWiC event.
“We are excited to continue to grow our WiWiC Conservation Educator Network with these twice a year, spring and fall, statewide virtual meet-ups to bring together an enthusiastic group of Wisconsinites passionate about stewarding our land and providing ways to connect people to environmental awareness,” shares Esther Shekinah, the project lead for WiWiC, based at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI). “The goal of this WiWiC network is to regularly connect educators who work with women farmers and landowners, share best practices, challenges and resources, develop cooperative strategies for effective programming and find ways to effectively work together.”
This October 19 meet-up will continue to provide both resources specifically for conservation educators as well as opportunity for networking and career development. During the “Educator Resource Share” section, Dr. Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, Director of the Women for the Land program at American Farmland Trust, will share research insights on the growing movement of women landowners nationwide championing conservation as well as sharing her story of why working with women in conservation is so important to her.
“I chose a career in conservation because I was compelled to. My body of work, from my personal passions of growing/cooking/eating food to my professional interests of understanding what makes a sustainable and resilient food system has forced my hand,” shares Roesch-McNally. “I am hooked on conservation work in the agriculture world and couldn’t imagine doing something else.”
Because these welcoming meet-ups regularly include a large group of women new on their conservation career path, either having just started at their jobs or been in the industry for under five years, we’re excited to also include a special “Educator Career Share” portion on the agenda where seasoned conservation professionals offer personal reflections and advice on building a career as a woman working in conservation.
"I can remember being a small child and fascinated by animals, and how sad I was to learn that whooping cranes were almost all gone and that ivory-billed woodpeckers and passenger pigeons were all gone,” reflects Rebecca Christoffel, WiWiC Team member and co-Director of Turtles for Tomorrow, a small non-profit dedicated to the conservation and management of rare herpetofauna in Wisconsin, particularly turtles. “I started sharing my sense of wonder about animals and my concern for them with anyone who would listen as soon as I was old enough to read and learn about wildlife and have been doing so ever since then."
Christoffel will share her inspiring story of how to build a successful conservation career that thrives in diversity as she did everything from work in academia to founding a non-profit to currently serving as the onsite evaluator and social science researcher for the WiWiC project.
“I found the first WiWiC Conservation Educator Network meet-up a really good use of my time to attend as it gave me the opportunity to connect with others so positively engaged with conservation education,” adds Marie Raboin with the Land Conservation Department in Dane County. "I left the gathering inspired to do something for the farmer-wives and women farmers of the Producer Led Watershed group that I help organize to more directly involve and support these women.”
Register here for the October 19 event. If you cannot attend on October 19 but would still like to be a part of this network and be informed of future events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, organization/position and contact information. This October 19 meet-up is one of two regular annual such gatherings via Zoom, with the next one happening in March, 2023.
Please do save the date for an IN PERSON, WiWiC Educator Network conference at Sentry World in Stevens Point on Friday, April 28, 2023. The goal of this one-day conference is in the same spirit of the WiWiC model of building networks and connections. We expect 100 educators to attend this inaugural event.