|By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Jane Deere is an educational program designed for farm and ranch women to learn about wildlife and outdoor recreational skills in a relaxed atmosphere, said Peggy Farrell, assistant director for the international Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program.
BOW is a nonprofit educational program that teaches outdoor skills in a female friendly environment. Jane Deere is an example of its expanding programming.
BOW launched three pilot workshops, through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that invited women who own farm and ranch land or who maybe are just interested in agriculture to come and take hands-on classes, Farrell said.
“The classes included everything from wildlife habitat to fishing on the farm to chain saw safety, learning how to manage your woodlot, shooting sports, identifying wild flowers and landscaping with native plants, what you can do to attract or discourage critters from being on your land,” Farrell said.
The pilot programs took place in Wisconsin, Montana and Texas. The plan is to repeat those programs in different states - sign-up is going on now for a class in Mississippi.
The Jane Deere program came after a new BOW program was introduced in Wisconsin.
“We are always trying to reach new audiences that we think would really benefit from the program,” Farrell said.
“In 2000 we did a program for people who own nonindustrial private forest land here in the state of Wisconsin to help them learn how to better manage their land.”
A lot of private forest is being divided and sold in Wisconsin. The idea of the program was to teach people how to manage the land and make it profitable, to find the tax incentives, so they would be able to keep the land.
“It was suggested to us that that same principle would work for people who own farmland,” Farrell said.
Women are influencing farmland use, agriculture, and habitat enhancement across the country. In the United States there are more than 800,000 female farmers who were the sole operators of their farm in 2002, according to the Census of Agriculture.
Women are a fast growing segment of agricultural landowners including those who inherit land, purchase land for investment, or acquire land to become new farmers and make a connection with nature, said Farrell, who admits she is a farm girl at heart.
“We had really terrific reaction to the Jane Deere program,” Farrell said.
“There is an esprit-de-corps that develops at BOW workshops,” he added. “Women have fun, encourage each other, and learn new ways to appreciate our natural resources.”
For details, visit www.uwsp.edu/cnr/ bow then click on the The Jane Deere Project at the top of the page or contact Peggy Farrell, International Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, UW-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources, Stevens Point, WI 54481, phone 715-346-4681.