They came from all walks of life: nurses, doctors, teachers, students, retirees and real estate brokers. But they all had one thing in common – a love of the land and wildlife.
Twenty four women from across Texas attended the 2014 Women of the Land event at Falcon Point Ranch in Seadrift, Texas. They came to learn more about how to manage their land, but they left with much more.
Staff from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other agencies volunteered their time to teach at the weekend event. The Texas Wildlife Association hosts the event each year that engages women landowners on a variety of conservation issues.
“The Women of the Land program is important because of the number of women landowners and land managers is increasing, and they are looking for information on how to better manage wildlife habitat, whether for their enjoyment or their livelihood,” said Helen Holdsworth with the Texas Wildlife Association. “This program also offers the opportunity to network with women with the same interests and learn from each other.”
Some of the major topics include: analyzing and evaluating habitat, diversifying income, studying different species of wildlife, managing ecosystems and taking advantage of available technical and financial assistance.
“I am fortunate to have inherited property in eastern Texas from my mother who inherited it from her mother and grandmother,” said Lynita Kelldorf, who has attended four Women of the Land trainings. “Nothing had been done in many years on my land, and I wanted to remedy that. Women of the Land has increased my knowledge base many times over, and every time I go to one of these wonderful events I learn something new.”
The event also touched on the work of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold. He wrote in his book, “Game Management,” about how wildlife can be restored using the same tools – the axe, plow cow, fire and gun – that could destroy them. These tools can be used as ways to manage land that benefit wildlife, such as managing brush, implementing a prescribed grazing system, managing wildlife populations and using prescribed burning.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to landowners for implementing a variety of conservation practices, including many of the techniques discussed during presentations by instructors.
Attendees were offered an opportunity to bird watch on Sunday morning, hoping to see the endangered whooping cranes that make this part of the Texas coast a very important ecosystem. Participants learned about ongoing habitat restoration efforts that are being implemented on the ranch with the help of conservation partners such as NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the ranch itself.
“The best part is being with other women who enjoy what to do, being outside learning and loving the land and its creatures big and small,” Kelldorf said. “It is so hard to put in words all that I get from a weekend with Women of the Land.”
The jam-packed weekend provided a wealth of information that helped these women develop a deeper appreciation for their land, as well as new ideas to take home and implement so they can pass along their land to the next generation in better condition than they acquired it.