Regenerative Land and Livestock Management for Women

Final report for EDS21-28

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2021: $49,972.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipients: National Center for Appropriate Technology; Tennessee Tech University
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Linda Coffey
National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
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Project Information


This project, Regenerative Land and Livestock Management for Women, nicknamed "Women, Livestock, and the Land" aimed to empower and equip women farmers who are beginning grass-based livestock enterprises to expand their knowledge and practice skills in goal setting, soil health, regenerative grazing, animal handling, health, and direct marketing. These skills are fundamental to both the success of a grass-based livestock business and the long-term health of the land.

To do this, we  incorporated educational techniques that are regularly and successfully used by NCAT:

  • Created an engaging mix of classroom teaching, discussion, and hands-on training
  • Provided ample time for networking within the group so that a cohort was formed and participants felt safe and supported
  • Provided mechanisms for communication and support before and after the in-person training, including a private Facebook page and emails

We also incorporated successful strategies used by other organizations. For example, the Rural Women's Project (SARE ONClS-006) stated, ‘‘we have found that women enjoy learning most from their peers.’’  Similarly, SARE’s ONC16-020 details the use of learning circles, participant farm tours, and ongoing networks to build a cohort of women. Soil Sisters (ONC20-072) built a toolkit for women farmers anywhere who are interested in establishing a peer-based network, and we provided that toolkit to enable participants to build their own local networks. Finally, we used Annie's Project ( methodology and principles throughout this project, as these proven techniques are also strategies NCAT uses routinely. These include the core values of:

  • Safe harbor—where all questions or situations are welcome
  • Connection and networking among farm women and speakers
  • Discovery as skills practice
  • Shared experiences as participants contribute their own subject matter expertise (Shultz et al., 2017)

During this project, we gathered a cohort of 80 women farmers and held meetings by Zoom from March until June, 2022, offering eight different topic sessions on Wednesdays and an additional nine on Monday evenings.  During these sessions, we met each other and had interactive classes covering species considerations, processing and marketing, and ruminant nutrition (taught by cohort members and/or NCAT staff) on Mondays.   On Wednesdays, we presented about goals, grazing management, profitability, processing and marketing.  Linda Coffey led those classes.  In May, there were three guest speakers: Dr. Ann Wells, DVM, a project mentor, taught Holistic Animal Health.  Charlotte Smith, 3 Cow Marketing, taught a class, and Sally Schoen, SCORE volunteer, presented about business planning and how SCORE can help small business owners, including farmers.   All classes were recorded and were available to watch after the session.

The entire course curriculum was housed on Teachable and included contact information for the class, a welcome letter, Zoom links for Monday sessions, and modules to lead a student through the course.  Each unit included resources to support the class, a checklist with suggested homework assignments to build learning and increase the depth of knowledge, and action steps with materials provided.  Recorded classes were posted there so that cohorts could watch later.  

In June, the cohorts enjoyed meeting each other in person and getting hands-on training in either Cookeville, TN (hosted by our partner, Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Dennis Fennewald and the team of female teachers he enlisted) or Fayetteville, AR (hosted by NCAT with help from local women farmers and agency staff).  Farm Credit and SCORE helped provide more business advice and reviewed business plans.  Each group had two days together blending classroom and farm time and lots of discussion and networking time.  

Three Zoom meetings were held after the in-person events, and each participant had the opportunity for 20 sessions by Zoom (1 to 11/2 hours each) and two full days of in-person training, in addition to the hours of class materials they were provided.  The Women, Livestock, and the Land private Facebook group has 62 members who post and comment and learn from each other.  Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the cohort recommends we repeat the project for a new cohort and offer reunions for the 2022 cohort.  This project has been impactful and enjoyable.

Through this project, participants learned how to care for their soil, pastures, and animals so that all are healthy and productive. Participants networked with each other and with female mentors who discussed practical tips for the physical management of their farms. They learned about direct marketing and goal setting to help them meet the market demand for grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, and to sustain a profitable farm into the future. Cohort members were inspired by each other and by experienced women farmers who assisted during the in-person training and during Zoom meetings.  Empowering women farmers in this way can help protect natural resources, provide healthy food for communities, and keep farmland in production for future generations.

Project Objectives:

The objectives of this project are:

  1. Survey women farmers to ask about their needs for resources and support.
  2. Provide at least 20 hours of instruction on regenerative grazing, whole farm planning, and livestock management topics to 60 women in Arkansas and Tennessee.
  3. Develop and disseminate educational resources, including at least two podcasts, four videos, and two resource lists, on regenerative grazing and livestock management topics.
  4. Promote and support the development of eight new women farmer networks.
  5. Provide ongoing support, networking, and technical assistance to participants.
  6. Evaluate this project to inform future work.


Further details:


  1. Survey women farmers to ask about their needs for resources and support

Surveys were administered in several ways, including an electronic poll released to the NCAT email list and through partners’ networks, and through polls using the same questions during Zoom trainings on livestock topics.  Applicants to the program listed topics needed and throughout this project, the team was responsive to stated needs.  For example, our Monday evening meetings were designed as "Office Hours", unstructured time for questions and networking.  The cohort asked that we use the time to explore livestock species, and so we offered sessions on bees, rabbits, poultry, pastured hogs, sheep and goats, processing and marketing, and ruminant nutrition (part 1 and part 2).  NCAT remained responsive throughout the program and aimed to provide the resources and training needed by the participants.  The women in the cohort helped each other, too, and used the private Facebook group to ask and answer questions.


    2. Provide at least 20 hours of instruction on regenerative grazing, whole farm planning, and livestock management topics to 60 women in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Experienced women livestock producers, including NCAT staff, led the trainings and provided both online instruction and a two-day, in-person workshop in each state (Arkansas and Tennessee) that offered demonstration and practice time for skills related to caring for soil, pastures, and animals. Online instruction using Zoom allowed us to collect information, build trust, customize upcoming trainings, and create anticipation for the hands-on training coming later. Building trust is essential to learning (Bell and McAllister, 2012) and is especially needed before asking participants to attempt new skills in the hands-on portion of the training. We provided over 20 hours of online instruction to 80 women and two full days (8-5) of in-person instruction to 48 women from the Southern region, including cohort members from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.  For the in-person trainings, 48 cohort members and 30 teachers participated.  Most came to dinner the evening before the training, giving us 20 contact hours in-person.  We supplemented this extensive training with books provided to the cohort members, a binder holding the agenda, cohort contacts, and ATTRA publications, and NRCS grazing sticks.  We also distributed handouts from the speakers and organizations, including NRCS, Cooperative Extension, and SCORE.

We  also delivered the six-module SARE funded course, Taking Your Farm to the Next Level, offering coaching as requested by individuals to increase the business skills of the participants, leading to better financial decisions and helping farm survival.

We presented all students a baseline understanding of grazing management by providing and encouraging completion of ATTRA’s Managed Grazing Tutorial, found at   This course features eight modules that are narrated presentations and include quizzes to check for understanding. Completing this tutorial increased their confidence prior to the in-person workshop. Not many completed the entire course, but the in-person training provided hands-on practice to cement the learning and reinforce the vital concepts covered in the Managed Grazing Tutorial.

Many other materials were provided and housed on the Teachable platform to offer a convenient way to access curated materials on the topics of goal setting, grazing management, economic and financial management, marketing, and processing.  

The two-day in-person workshops were exciting and impactful opportunities for hands-on learning, interactive discussion, customized experiences through breakouts, and networking between experienced and novice livestock producers. The programs were different at each location but offered similar material and emphasized women as teachers, hands-on practice, farm tours and plenty of time for questions and for coaching.


Graduate support was provided through additional online meetings  following the in-person trainings and through interaction and coaching via the  Facebook page and ATTRA technical assistance. Communication is ongoing as cohort members have each other's contacts as well as those of NCAT staff and mentor farmers. Project lead frequently emails the group to point to useful resources and programs, and cohort members continue to use the private Facebook group to ask and answer questions and to show each other resources and events.


    3. Develop and disseminate educational resources, including at least two podcasts, four videos, and two resource lists, on regenerative grazing and livestock management topics.

We produced at least two podcasts, four videos, and two resource lists to provide education for the participants. NCAT is very experienced at creating farmer-friendly resources, and we have many ways to provide them to our audience. We have used the ATTRA website (, NCAT/ATTRA YouTube channel, Voices from the Field podcast, and social media, including Facebook pages for NCAT Southeast, NCAT Gulf States, and NCAT Southwest regional offices (AR, MS, and TX). More videos have been submitted from cohort members and it is hoped that we can make a playlist showcasing the cohort farms.  Another video is in final edits and will be posted on this report soon.


    4. Promote and support the development of at least eight new women farmer networks.

We know that social support is important to success and that local support is especially helpful.  Throughout this course, women were encouraged to connect with each other.  We also provided the SARE-funded Soil Sisters Toolkit ( see to the cohort.  We asked in the final survey about the ways the cohort has connected with the other members.  Nearly all have connected with NCAT staff, with other cohort members by phone or email, and through the private Facebook group.  They especially enjoyed meeting in person.  Of the 30 who responded to the final survey, 3 reported starting local networks in their area, while 25 reported networking with other women.  We believe that each step toward more connection is valuable and that the seeds have been planted for more women farmer networks in the future.

    5. Provide ongoing support, networking, and technical assistance to participants.

NCAT hosted a private Facebook group for the participants of this project to facilitate communication and networking beyond the range of this project. NCAT specialists provided many links to information and events via email to the cohort members throughout this project, and provided contacts for NCAT staff and for the cohort members to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and connection.  NCAT technical staff are available to participants through the ATTRA helpline, 800-346-9140, and through email and Facebook pages for the Southeast and Gulf States offices. NCAT technical staff are women livestock farmers, themselves, and bring a practical and empathetic manner to the work. Participants find staff approachable and knowledgeable.

Cohort members continue to use the private Facebook group to ask and answer questions and to show each other resources and events. 

    6. Evaluate this project to inform future work.

Evaluation happened throughout this project, as we know that understanding participant needs and knowing what is working is key in offering excellent, impactful trainings. NCAT strives to be responsive and adaptable and is continuously working to improve our services to our clients. NCAT incorporated surveys after each of the trainings, online and in-person, and conducted a follow-up survey six months after the in-person trainings. Fuller details are given in the Evaluation section of this report.

NCAT’s project team used their extensive experience developing and conducting other successful training programs and their own experience as farmers to create and deliver this program.  Participants enjoyed and benefited from this program and the impact will be felt for many years.  The final survey garnered 30 responses and the participants rated the project 4.87 out of 5, with 100% stating that they would recommend this project to others.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Dennis Fennewald


Educational approach:

This project used ATTRA resources and other publications, videos, podcasts, and blogs that are housed on Teachable for 24/7 access.  In addition to these resources, we offered classes by Zoom to small cohorts where interactive peer-to-peer learning was the primary way information was shared.  NCAT staff taught many sessions but cohort members also participated by sharing their knowledge and expertise during Monday evening Zoom sessions and by communicating with their cohort on the private Facebook group and by texts, calls, emails, and visits to each other's farms.  

Each module of the Teachable course includes a checklist of Action Steps, and each step is linked with the resource needed to complete that step, making it convenient for participants.  All classes were designed to facilitate connection among the group by using breakout groups and chats.  

The cohorts were provided the Zoom meetings and Teachable course in March and met weekly on Mondays and on alternate Wednesdays through March and April.  In May the two cohorts were combined and had three Wednesday sessions.  In June, each cohort participated in a 2-day in-person training where we provided a mix of classroom teaching, hands-on experience, and farm tours, as well as small-group discussion time and a farm panel interview.  

At the in-person trainings, cohort members were given additional resources so that they could delve more deeply into some topics after the training.  This project used individual and group learning approaches and was designed to work with different learning styles and to accommodate schedules of busy students.  Students had freedom to explore written, audio, and video lessons at their own pace and convenience, to discuss with a group and get help processing information, and to practice hands-on learning and in-person group lessons.  We offered small group breakouts to increase comfort and remained available to help on an individual basis.  Peer-to-peer learning was emphasized throughout the project and cohort members were encouraged to share their expertise and experience.

Comments from cohort members before the in-person training:

The NCAT & WLL staff are doing a great job in the dissemination of information.  The presentations are well done and the Teachable website is very organized.  I appreciate the resource links as well as the checklists with weblinks included.  Looking forward to meeting fellow Cohorts in person.  Thank you all for this educational opportunity.  The information provided will ensure the successful creation and management of my future farm business.

I appreciate how people of all learning styles can benefit from the course you've set up. I am looking forward to this opportunity to further my education.

I really looked forward to the classes but then our farm life got really busy and my teenagers are in the middle of Track season so I’m going constantly.

I have loved the time I have had with the cohort!

I'm not attending the meetings but i am finding the emails with information helpful!

I'm so sorry I'm lagging behind. I promise to attend the remainder. FT job and managing a farm kills my schedule some days.

Having to watch at other times than the live times due to work schedule.

So far, all have been very helpful. I have learned a lot. Ladies in the class are really great and seems doing well with their farm operation. I don't feel I have contributed too much, but I will keep trying to share good information that I know.   Time to prepare for the training is a challenge; things are keep coming up but I do the best to follow thru the lessons. It's great opportunity and hope the lesson will be accessible for awhile even after the training ends. I found it helps for me to come back to read/view video and each time i learn something new and be able to make adjustment about what I (or we) didn't do right on farm. I ENJOY the group discussion; thinking if don't have FB group maybe Microsoft (MS) Teams or MS Community would be an option that will allow all join can chat to each other.  Thank you very much for everything you do.  MUCH APPRECIATED!!! 

After the in-person training:

What else did you like?

“I kept thinking after every speaker that it was my favorites session, but every single one was just so good. I loved the balance of indoor, outdoor, and diverse experts.”

“It is hard to narrow this down. I loved everything about this workshop. The networking, the wealth of topics, pertinent topics covered. Various farm tours with different practices. On farm experience. The food was very good.”

“The fellowship and wonderful women.”

“Love the field day at farms. Demo to learn about the soil, grass and livestock. Classroom discussions are super, get to learn something new. Overall, Linda and NCAT team have done excellent job to prepare us”

“I liked the combination of hands on learning with animals and networking/learning from guest speakers. Q&A provided so much insight.”

What would you change?

“I wish it were longer or a "refresher" offered for next year. Other than that, add participants location and major area of interest to name tag.”

“Add some beginner friendly things: hoof trimming, put on halter, using a drench gun, vaccine schedule.”

“Farm visits in the morning, classwork in afternoons.”

“Make it a little longer. A little more time to visit with other participants.”

“One more day to add more hands on and socializing. Breaking folks up into groups based on experience. Visit more farms and option to choose one that better fits goals.”

Overall impression of workshop

“The quality of speakers--the knowledge, excellence, passion, and organization-- and the "hands-on" activities and demonstrations. Surpasses any of the other classes I have taken.”

“Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I have gained resources, knowledge, and friends.”

“Amazing! The knowledge between cohorts and presenters is invaluable.”

“I loved the workshop. I am going away with a new outlook of what I want to do and planning. The speakers and farm visits, I feel really made an impact on me.”

The final evaluation had 30 responses and is available by contacting  Comments are overwhelmingly positive and the overall rating is 4.87 out of 5.


Educational & Outreach Activities

150 Consultations
12 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
22 On-farm demonstrations
27 Online trainings
3 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Tours
25 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: NCAT built an online course on Teachable that holds 5 sessions and all the resources and action steps to support the classes. This platform also holds the course schedule and plan for the May classes, taught by guest speakers, and for the July and August classes following up after the in-person training.

Participation Summary:

3,300 Farmers participated
42 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

This project began with a 3-part webinar series, and 199 people registered for the series and could choose to attend as many of the sessions as they wanted.  These were held November 4, 11, and 18, 2021, and were the means of recruiting some of our target audience and of surveying their needs.  Each webinar had a special resource page to accompany it, pointing to further information.  Later, we posted a blog (January 23, 2022), which has been accesssed 339 times as of March 20, 2023.  The blog features links to the ATTRA YouTube page for each of the videos, as well as a link to the resource pages.  As of March 20, 2023, the videos have been viewed a total of 1285 times.  Here is the link to the blog:

The webinars were taught by a team of NCAT Agriculture Specialists and were very well-received.  During and following the series, NCAT recruited participants for the Women, Livestock, and the Land course.  We received 120 applications for the cohorts and our target is 30 women for each cohort, one called "AR Cohort" and one called "TN Cohort", based on the location for the in-person trainings to be held in June.  The women who were not placed in either of those cohorts remain in a group called the "Overflow Cohort", and they receive emails from the PI about events that may be of interest and resources that may be helpful.  Any information not specific to the course is shared with all 120 applicants.

An online course has been built and is hosted on the Teachable platform.  This includes resource materials, class rosters and schedules, Zoom links for the cohorts and for the More on Monday Meetings, and homework assignments to support the class materials.  The course began in March and was  held by Zoom through May.  In June we hosted in-person trainings in Cookeville, TN and in Fayetteville, AR.  There were three follow-up Zoom sessions for the groups in July, August, and December.

Each cohort met on alternating Wednesdays.  Topics covered on Wednesdays were: Introductions, Goals and Whole Farm Planning, Managed Grazing, Improving Profitability, Processing and Marketing, Holistic Animal Health, Email Marketing, Working with SCORE and Building Your Business Plan.  Both cohorts were invited to join the Monday meetings, and cohort members shared their knowledge and experiences with the others.  Bees, rabbits, pastured poultry, pastured hogs, a two-part series about ruminant nutrition, sheep and goats, and processing and marketing were discussed in Monday sessions. Cohort members who attended the Soil Health Academy reported on that course and enjoyed staying together at BDA Farm for that event.  

Two podcasts were done by interviewing mentors for this class.  Dr. Ann Wells, DVM spoke about Holistic Animal Health (616 listens so far) and Dr. Tina Cone, DVM spoke about her experience as a regenerative grazer (587 listens as of March 20, 2033).  

Blogs were written during this course, one about "WLL and Other Ways to Make Friends" (171 users) and one about "Find Your Community at Pasture Walks" (105 users).  These were designed to promote networks.  

Resource lists were created to support the initial webinar series (3) and to provide the WLL class resources for forage ID and for lambing and kidding resources.  Those two were created at the request of cohort members and have been used for other farmers as well.

Checklists to offer homework activites were created and available to the class on Teachable.

There were two 2-day in-person trainings that were each packed full of presentations, consultation time, farm visits, demonstrations, and hands-on activities.

In addition to the women who received one-on-one consultations during the in-person trainings, we answered an estimated 2 emails per week, as well as answering questions during the many presentations given through this course.  As for farmers reached, we added the numbers for live attendance at the initial webinar, video views and podcast listens and blog reads to this date to estimate that number, and assumed that our cohort had accessed at least one of those materials.  For the agriculture professionals, we counted the teachers who presented at the in-person workshops and during online presentations.

Agriculture professionals who spoke either online or in person were counted; this project drew on a phenomenal team of farmer and other agriculture professionals who shared their expertise with this class.  

Several videos are in progress as of this writing.  The Beginning Livestock series is available online, we will post the talks of Dr. Ann Wells, Charlotte Smith, and Sally Schoen, and there is a video about women in agriculture that will be posted on YouTube later.  

Learning Outcomes

176 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • knowledge of soil health

  • grazing management knowledge

  • livestock health

  • business planning

  • programs, including NRCS, FACT, SCORE

  • working with lenders

  • working with processors

  • a wealth of resources

  • pros and cons of various livestock species

  • awareness of NCAT and the ATTRA program

  • inspiration from other women farmers and role models and mentors

Project Outcomes

150 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
10 New working collaborations

Dear SARE:

First of all, this model worked very well and the participants are overwhelmingly positive, both the cohort members and the women who served as teachers and mentors.  We believe there is a need for more projects like this one to support women farmers.   

Over and over, the project lead was asked, "Will you do this again?" We would like to!  However, over the course of the project we realized that our labor budget was not sufficient for this much interaction.  We leveraged the ATTRA project to carry it out.  Therefore, if we are able to do this project again, we will scale back a bit on Zoom meetings and on emails from the project lead, and simplify the Teachable course to reduce overwhelm and keep more of the cohort engaged.  The private Facebook group has been a popular and helpful tool, and we could add in the next round of cohort.  

The overwhelm (not just from the course, but from life) caused attrition from the group.  However, many wrote to tell me that they were unable to attend class "but I'm enjoying the email information.  Thank you." Therefore, I believe the class benefited the whole group.

Several had problems keeping track of their Teachable course, and suggested there is an easier way to post materials.  

The pre-course survey and webinar series to recruit students was not necessary.  We had 120 applicants for the course, and very few of them participated in the webinars in November prior to the course announcement.  The instruction we designed for this course was what we (NCAT) felt was necessary and helpful to reach the goals, and our surveys didn't turn up any unforeseen needs.

We were afraid a 2-day training would be too much.  But many of the participants stated that they would rather it be 3 shorter days rather than the intense 2 days we provided.  And many asked if we could do reunions each year or in some other way continue in-person training.  We still think 2 days is a reasonable investment to ask participants.  

There are additional needs beyond the topics we addressed in this project.  Women expressed the need to learn skills such as tractor driving and maintainance, more business planning help, and more hands-on practice than we had time to provide.

We had anticipated sharing the Teachable course with the public after this course.  However, because of the interactive classes, the videos we recorded during class are not going to be usable for the public; there are privacy issues.  Having worked hard to provide a safe space for learning, we cannot post the recordings now.  We do plan to post the guest lectures from Dr. Ann Wells, Charlotte Smith, and Sally Schoen because we can edit off the questions and provide the teaching.  I am happy to share the Teachable link for internal SARE review.  Contact me at if you would like to see the course.

We provided three books to each person who came to the in-person training.  All were appreciated but the one that most reported reading and enjoying is "Start Your Farm", by Forrest Pritchard and Ellen Polishuk.  Other titles included "The New American Farmer" and "Whole Farm Planning".  Giving resources that last beyond the course and can be shared with others is a good way to support new farmers.

In a time when online information is readily available, having a cohort to work with helped us all focus our learning and approach in a systematic and logical way while providing plenty of freedom outside of the structure.  Thank you, SARE, for allowing us this opportunity.


Linda Coffey, NCAT


Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.