Conservation educators together make up the heartbeat of land stewardship in Wisconsin, but often without the connection and networking support to grow stronger together. The Wisconsin Women in Conservation Educator Network aims to grow our state’s conservation movement by facilitating this inclusive network of educators - both professional and volunteer - to collaboratively support each other in our conservation outreach and work.
The next gathering will be on Tuesday, March 8 at 10 am. 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 kicked off this new WiWiC Conservation Educator Network last October with 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 March 8 meet-up will provide both resources specifically for conservation educators as well as opportunity for networking and career development.
During the “Educator Resource Share” section, Diane Mayerfeld with UW-Madison Extension will be sharing USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) resources and grant and professional funding opportunities with USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).
Mayerfield will also report on findings and next steps from the UW-Madison New Landowner Success project, a new statewide research project focused on better understanding and supporting new landowners.
The Educator Network kick-off last October also included a large group of women new on their conservation career path, having been in the industry for under five years. Educator Network Meet Ups will now 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.
Julie Peterson, Farm Bill Biologist with Pheasants Forever who will be offering her career insights during the March 8 Meet-Up. “I am so inspired by the many young women jumping into conservation careers and look forward to offering thoughts on what I wish I knew when I got started.”
“I’ve been working as a conservation educator my whole career and while I find it extremely rewarding, I’ve learned along the way strategies on how to both better communicate with landowners and navigate the many layers of state agencies and programs,” reflects Peterson.
“I found the first WiWiC Conservation Educator Network meet-up in October 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 March 8 event. If you cannot attend on March 8 but would still like to be a part of this network and be informed of future events, please email email@example.com with your name, organization/position and contact information. This March 8 meet-up is one of two annual such gatherings via Zoom, with the second happening in fall, 2022.
About Wisconsin Women in Conservation
WiWiC is a state-wide collaborative effort led by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in partnership with Wisconsin Farmers Union, Renewing the Countryside and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). A three-year multi-faceted project funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), WiWiC brings together Wisconsin women landowners to connect and learn about conservation practices, resources, and funding opportunities.