Women landowners focus of Sept. 30-Oct. 1 stewardship conference in Fredericksburg

Megan Treadwell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range specialist, explains how prescribed fire can be used to manage land during a past Bennett Trust Land Stewardship Women’s Conference. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

FREDERICKSBURG – With a greater number of women making the decisions as landowners and operators, the Bennett Trust Land Stewardship Women’s Conference targets this under-served segment of property owners, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program’s coordinator.

“Tips for the Trade” is the theme of the conference set for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at The Inn on Barons Creek, 308 S. Washington St., Fredericksburg. Cost is $100 and includes meals, break refreshments and tour transportation.

“Women are increasingly the decision-makers on many ranch operations,” said Larry Redmon, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension program leader and associate head, Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, College Station. “One financial institution branch manager specializing in ranch loans recently said 90% of the decision-makers they deal with are women.”

Redmon said in many cases, believing they were protecting their wife, daughter, sister, etc., men who managed financial and other resources in the past failed to include the women in the decision-making process.

“Then, when he is suddenly no longer in the picture and the woman inherits the property, she is not prepared to handle the daily management decisions,” he said.

And often, Redmon said, they don’t feel comfortable asking all their questions in an audience full of men who might already know the answers. This meeting allows them to network with other women working in the same situation they are.

“These women have told us they feel more at ease in an audience of only other women,” he said. “I can testify it is a totally different dynamic.”

Women attending the Bennett Trust Land Stewardship Women’s Conference in the past learned about using heavy equipment to clear land. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

This program, in its fifth year and winner of the Texas A&M Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for Diversity, aims to provide women the tools they need to manage their piece of Texas, he said.

More than 300 women from the Hill Country and as far away as Oklahoma and Louisiana have attended in the past, including numerous repeat attendees, Redmon said. Survey respondents have indicated they manage anywhere from as few as five to 10 acres up to 5,000 to 10,000 acres.

One respondent in a survey said, “When I inherited the land, it might as well have been in China … I had no idea what to do with the property.”

After attending the conference, she said, “It’s been such an eye-opener as far as considering what you can do with land in Texas. It’s been wonderful to learn about ecology and ecosystems and saving the type of nature we have. Now I have options I can choose from.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Susan Ballabina, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife deputy vice chancellor, College Station, will address conservation of natural resources.

Other speakers will discuss quail, 1-D-1 wildlife exemptions, agriculture laws, financial considerations, AgriLife Extension’s Path to the Plate program, Brush Busters and prescribed fire, and how to “find your place” on the land. 

On Oct. 1, conference attendees will travel to outdoor sessions on plant identification, skeet shooting and archery in the morning. Following lunch, the group will tour a ranch in the Fredericksburg/Kerrville area.

For more information, go to https://agrilife.org/bennetttrust/, or contact Redmon at l-redmon@tamu.edu or Linda Francis, l-francis@tamu.edu.

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