Mar 11, 2021
Collaboration, networking for women in ag touted by SC Women’s Agriculture Network

Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension aims to support women in agriculture through the S.C. Women’s Agriculture Network (S.C. WAgN).

Women comprise more than 14 percent of total producers and are taking a more active role in day-to-day agriculture and farm operations. Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture for South Carolina indicates between 2012 and 2017 alone, South Carolina saw a 27.8 percent increase in female producers and a 56.9 percent increase in females as the principal producer on the farm.

In the spring of 2020, Clemson Cooperative Extension Director Thomas Dobbins, and Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center (REC) Director, Kathy Coleman, called on women across Extension to come together and revive S.C. WAgN for a unified approach in women-centric programming.

“Extension has an outstanding cadre of women who can drive programming that would bring much-needed information to an ever-expanding sector of the agricultural and natural resource industry statewide.,” Coleman said in a news release. “Some Extension program teams are already delivering programs focused on women, but it is always good to share ideas and collaborate to enhance Extension’s ability to serve stakeholders.

The S.C. WAgN committee launched a statewide needs assessment survey in 2020 to identify critical resources needed to help guide future programming and delivery. Current programs aligning under the S.C. WAgN umbrella include Ladies Engaged in Agriculture Development (LEAD), S.C. Women Owning Woodlands (WOW), and Annie’s Project. Both S.C. WOW and Annie’s Project are state chapters within national programs.

“In my previous Cooperative Extension job in another state, I started developing a passion for women-specific agriculture programs,” said Charley Maxwell, Extension agribusiness agent and commitee head for S.C. WAgN. “I’ve noticed that men make up the majority of participants in numerous agricultural Extension programs, but when you hold a program specifically advertised for women, it attracts a larger number of women than may be expected.”

LEAD, Annie’s Project and WOW offer events throughout the year and have moved to virtual offerings due to the pandemic. LEAD focuses on general agriculture topics and hosts quarterly seminars for women in agriculture. Annie’s Project is a national program for women that focuses on the business side of farming and will hold a virtual conference in May.

The S.C. Annie’s Project program covers financial management, human resources, marketing and legal issues. Registration is open for the May conference here.

The S.C. WOW program was established to educate women on management decisions for forestland they or their family own. Upcoming S.C. WOW events can be found here, and a new video library of virtual programming covering forest management and other topics is available here.

Women in any nature segment/aspect of the agricultural and natural resources sector in South Carolina are encouraged to connect with and join S.C. WAgN and fill out the needs assessment survey here.

Empowering women in agriculture and providing opportunities to expand knowledge and network with other women in the field is of the utmost importance to the S.C. WAgN team. The S.C. WAgN committee is also looking to expand partnerships across South Carolina in the agricultural sector.

For more information, contact Charley Maxwell at [email protected].

 




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