Developing a Conservation Education and Outreach Program Targeted at Women Farmland Owners in IA, NE and WI

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $81,766.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Ahna Kruzic
Women, Food & Agriculture Network

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, rye, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, study circle, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Outcomes: 300 women farmland owners in IA, NE and WI will participate in peer-to-peer “learning circles” meetings focused on soil and water conservation, including how to work with tenants on conservation planning. Conservation outreach materials targeted to women farmland owners will be created and disseminated to conservation professionals in IA, NE and WI to encourage and support their outreach work to this population.

    Summaries of Context, Approach, Outputs, and Evaluation Plan: Women own nearly half the farmland in Iowa. Although data are lacking, we believe figures are similar in NE and WI. In surveys, women report strong conservation values, but in practice women’s enrollment in conservation programming is low. Some report they feel intimidated or uninformed in speaking to tenant farmers and agency staff. Conservation outreach materials also are not targeted to this demographic. This project will bring together groups of women farmland owners in 2-4 county areas in IA, NE and WI, a total of 300 over two years, in peer-to-peer meetings facilitated by women conservation professionals. Women will receive information on conservation planning, and a subset of advisors will also react to test outreach materials. In the second year of the project, materials will be developed and distributed to conservationists in IA, NE and WI for use in reaching out to women farmland owners. Evaluation tools will include exit surveys after meetings, and mail and/or phone surveys of farmland owners and conservationists 6 months after targeted outreach materials are provided, to gauge effectiveness of meetings and materials.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Outcomes:
    • A total of 300 women farmland owners in IA, NE and WI will participate in peer-to-peer conservation education meetings over two years, and receive information and support in making conservation management decisions about their farmland, based on accepted best practices in soil and water conservation and available state and federal assistance programs.
    • Based on the feedback of these participants and 10 farmland owner advisors, existing conservation education materials and methods will be evaluated and revised to better serve this audience of women farmland owners. One newsletter, one booklet, one brochure and one PowerPoint presentation will be prepared for use by the Women Caring for the Land project and conservation professionals.

    • The targeted materials and methods will be made available to conservation outreach professionals in IA, NE and WI to assist them in serving women farmland owners, through mailings, conference presentations, and the internet. Conservationists will be given information on why women landowners are an important conservation audience, and the tools to improve their outreach work.
    • Additional women farmland owners in these states will be informed and supported in conservation management decisions, as conservation professionals become more aware of why and how to reach women landowners, and utilize the project’s materials and methods in their ongoing work.
    • Ten percent of these farmland owners will undertake changes in farm management to reflect their increased knowledge of soil and water conservation techniques. If 30 farmland owners (10% of the 300 participants) improve conservation management on farms averaging 330 acres (2007 Census of Agriculture, USDA), nearly 10,000 acres of land will be managed more sustainably in the three project states as a result of direct participation in the project.

    • More acres of farmland will be managed with improved conservation in IA, NE and WI, which will sustain and improve the environmental quality and natural resource base on which agriculture depends. Women own 47 percent of Iowa’s farmland, representing 14.5 million acres of farmland in one state alone. Reaching even a fraction of these landowners with a targeted conservation message that results in action could result in major improvements on the landscape.
    • More women farmland owners will feel empowered to investigate and pursue other sustainable agriculture options according to their interests.

    Products of this project will include:
    • A total of 300 women farmland owners will participate in peer-to-peer discussion groups devoted to conservation education, including working with tenants on conservation leases;
    • 10 percent of the attendees (30 women) will take action to improve conservation on their farmland during the duration of the project;
    • Teams of conservation professionals in the area of each meeting will participate in planning and conducting the learning circles, which will increase their awareness of the importance of reaching out to this audience and effective means of doing so;
    • One newsletter, one booklet, one brochure and one PowerPoint presentation will be created that strategically target women landowners, using input from meeting participants, a subset of 10 women farmland owner advisors, and project team conservation professionals, to be shared widely with conservation agencies in IA, NE and WI through presentations at annual conferences, mailings, and on the internet.

    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.