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Couldn’t bear to let it go

Women landowners in Emmet County

November 6, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

By Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

This is the second in an Estherville News series profiling women landowners. If you or someone you know would like to be photographed and featured in this series, please contact the newspaper office.

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Her great-great grandparents answered a newspaper ad in 1861, "Settlers needed in Emmet County." The area is located four miles east of Estherville on Hwy 9 and 2.5 miles south on 430th Avenue to 200th Street.

Ryan Lake was eventually dredged using oxen, and is now a lakebed with half timber and half upland. But when Kathy Graves' grandparents lived there, it was a lake.

Kathy had been out of farming for years, but after her father died in 2008, the choice she faced was whether or not to sell it.

Fact Box

It's a wonderful way to stay current on the farm practices that are best for this land.

Kathy Graves

on ISU Extension's Women Land & Legacy Class.

"I couldn't bear to let it go," Kathy said.

After that, the challenge was envisioning and living out the farm's future. The farmhouse is no longer there, and what can be preserved are the best farm practices, Kathy said.

"I don't think I could have done it without the Extension," Kathy said.

The Iowa State University Extension offers Women, Land & Legacy classes for women to learn about sustainability, conservation practices and more.

Kathy said, "It's a wonderful way to stay current on the farm practices that are best for this land."

Britney Rosburg of the Emmet County Extension office shared resources and projects relating to women farmers.

The mission of Annie's Project is to empower farm women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information. Annie's Project is a six-week course that meets for three hours each week. Sessions provide management education in five risk areas: financial, production, market, legal, and human resource. Annie's Project began in southwest Illinois in March 2003. The program has grown to more than 5,000 farm women participants in 20 states.

This course is designed for women of all ages and experience levels who want to know more about the key agronomic decisions for corn and soybean production. The sessions take a seasonal approach and cover decision-making for pre-planting, the growing phase, and harvest.

This course was recently held in March-April 2017 in Graettinger, Iowa.

Managing for Today and Tomorrow-

Creating a transition plan to make sure a farm continues as a productive, agricultural business can be challenging. Farm women have a key role in successful farm transitions. Managing for Today and Tomorrow, a new Annie's Project course for women, is divided into the following planning areas:

n Succession Planning -Transferring knowledge, skills, labor, management, control and ownership between generations.

n Business Planning - Developing goals, strategies and actions that form a road map to business growth.

n Estate Planning - Managing an individual's asset base in one's lifetime, at death or after death.

n Retirement Planning - Designing an enjoyable and productive time in life.

This program is a five week course that brings in local speakers and Iowa State Field Specialists to teach various topics related to transition and succession planning. Managing Today and Tomorrow creates a safe haven environment for women involved in agriculture to ask questions and learn from each other as well as the local professionals.

All of the programs offer brief presentations and extended discussion with women in ag professions. Courses are hands-on , not just lectures. There are opportunities to learn about resources and network with other women.

Women Land and Legacy-

Women, Land & Legacy (WLL) is a USDA education and outreach program that has impacted thousands of Iowa women in agriculture. Working locally in counties throughout the state WLL empowers female landowners and farmers to be agents of positive change in their communities through active participation, educational sessions and networking opportunities.

WLL provides participants opportunities to inform agencies what their needs are and bridges partnerships between government, non-profit organizations, faith based and community groups. These partners provide local, relevant information, speakers, and resources to local women so they can make the best farming and conservation choices for their land. All of the local work is facilitated through a core group, called the "local team", which is made up of members of these partner groups as well as women landowners and farmers. Women, Land & Legacy is a bottom-up, locally led program.

Palo Alto/Emmet County Women Land and Legacy was established with a listening session in January 2017. At the listening session, a needs assessment was completed to identify what topics of interest women in agriculture were interested in learning more about. Four events has been held this past year and topics covered include: marketing grain and establishing a marketing plan, farm bookkeeping and tax planning, a tour of conservation practices and upcoming is a social sign painting on Nov. 7.



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