Pennsylvania Women’s Ag Network:
Innovative Educational Programs for Women Farmers
Kathy Brasier, Linda Stewart Moist
Penn State University
Women farmers are a growing proportion of producers in the US, but significantly so in the Northeast. Yet, research has demonstrated that the needs of women in agriculture have not been met. Additionally, many women find that current educational programs are limited in what they offer and how welcoming they are to women producers.
An innovative program, the Pennsylvania Women’s Ag Network, supports women in agriculture by providing a positive learning environment, networking, and empowerment. PA-WAgN members are women farmers, agricultural professionals, and educators committed to supporting and providing educational opportunities to women working in agriculture and ag-related businesses. PA-WAgN intentionally links women producers with Penn State Cooperative Extension educators and specialists to improve women’s access to needed information and to enhance extension’s capacity to address diverse audiences. PA-WAgN members receive quarterly newsletters, email updates, online access to technical information and agricultural expertise, and access to educational events and programs. In addition, the program has received funding from multiple sources to conduct research on the needs of women producers in Pennsylvania and on the ability of extension educators to meet those needs.
In this presentation we discuss the formation of PA-WAgN, its educational programming, and the innovations developed through research on women in agriculture. Specific topics include leadership development, business planning, sustainable agricultural production methods, and social support for women farmers. Educational delivery methods are based on findings about women’s unique educational needs, specifically peer teaching and interactive on-farm discussions. Finally, we discuss our strategies for future programming, research, and needs assessment.
|2006 National Extension Women in Agriculture Conference